I was recently doing some work for a client of mine, which involved liaising with the Social Media Managers of a couple of other companies and I thought to myself, ‘now there’s a job title that didn’t exist a few year’s back’!
The opportunities for businesses to communicate with customers and potential customers, has completely changed in recent years. Known by terms such social networking and social marketing this goes way beyond advertising. It has become more of a two-way process to communicate with your customers and it can be very effective although it can also be extremely time-consuming!
As a small business, do you have a social media strategy? Just to clarify, this goes beyond having a ‘contact us’ page on your website. In its simplest terms, this is about having Facebook and Twitter presence of behalf of your business and sharing your activities with your customers through which they can comment and communicate. Now I am personally no social media expert, but I can appreciate the powerful role that it has to play.
When online, we spend 1 out of every 6 minutes using social media sites such as Twitter, MySpace, Google+, Linked In, etc. Also, love it or hate it Facebook is another valuable place to be talking about your business. It has an enormous user community, which is bigger than the population of Europe, with over 900 million users, and many businesses now have a Facebook page and/or profile.
Similarly, businesses can have a Twitter profile, where friends and customers can follow them. These ‘tools’ have the potential to reach a lot of people, but it’s not as easy as setting up a page or a profile and then leaving it to do its thing. It does take some work and it can take a lot of work. You have to try and keep people interested, so that they interact with you.
The easiest way is to simply share what you do such as releasing little updates about your activities and posting photos of new things. To be effective, it needs to be light and visual, and importantly, it needs to be regular. It is not very interesting to just send out advertising, pricing or special offer information. You can do a bit of this, but it has to be mixed with softer stuff.
It would also be a great idea to keep a little time in your day to respond to comments or questions that your customers may have made as it can be a great way to get new ideas and build relationships. If you can achieve a good level of interaction, then you have the potential to reach a much broader group of people.
For instance, Facebook has recently made changes that mean that if a customer of yours ‘likes’ something you have posted it is visible to all of their friends too. As a small business you may have very little time to focus on social media, although If gaining more customers is one of your priorities, then as a minimum you should probably be looking at using Facebook and/or Twitter. Perhaps you have a nephew or niece who could look after it for you? I may be telling you nothing new here, but at the very least, I hope that it makes you take a moment to reflect and ask yourself if you are putting the right amount of time and effort into social media marketing.