Category Archives: business social media page

BIG Things Small Businesses Overlook on Social Media

FacebookTwitterGoogle+Share

business manager managing company social media profileFacebook. Twitter. Instagram. Linkedin. Pinterest.

Social media sites are full of failed business profiles that are abandoned, full of negativity, or just full of junk. It’s impossible to know the reason behind every single botched social media attempt, but there are a lot of businesses out there—primarily small companies—who jump in to social media without thinking about these important parts of social media.

Answering messages

Most companies start a social media presence with a clear sales goal. There are ways to achieve this on social media with testimonials, images of products or services delivered, creative posts. However, many companies overlook the most direct approach: answering messages from potential customers.

Remember, customers (and potential customers) reach out to businesses with questions through whatever means is convenient for them—even if it’s not always the company’s preferred method. Select an employee or manager (carefully) who is trained to handle customer service inquiries. Connect an e-mail to company social media profiles so the employee receives notifications of new messages. If there is not a suitable employee or a manager that has time, contact a marketing company that can manage the social media profile (including responding to messages after contacting the business).

Respond to them as soon as possible. If that’s not possible, and the social media network has the capability, leave an auto-respond message that indicates when a response is coming (such as during business hours). Make it a top priority to respond promptly (within a few hours) BEFORE the customer moves on to the competition.

Negative comments and reviews

As much as company managers look forward to the sunshine of social media, there is a down side to marketing on social media. Social media is a two-way conversation; negative comments and reviews, unfortunately, are part of the process. Dealing with unhappy customers is also a key reason to choose the employee who responds on social media carefully (or why to put social media messages in the hands of marketing pros).

When a customer does post a negative comment or review, the general rule is to respond. The response should include a sincere sorry (even if it’s just for what they’re going through) and an offer—if possible—to resolve the issue. Don’t be afraid to ask the customer to private message if more information is needed. There are a few exceptions to the ‘always respond’ rule, such as if the comment or review is an act of revenge (i.e. from a former employee, angry friend or family member). On Facebook, the option to review a business can be turned off if the negativity becomes overwhelming. This shouldn’t be the first choice, however, as there is value in maintaining a social media profile with positive testimonials.

Amount of time it takes

Successful companies on social media make it look easy; from an outside standpoint, managing multiple social media profiles—and getting results from them—can appear simple. The truth is not so simple. The first step is choosing the right social media sites with the company’s target audience. From there, a solid social media presence requires quality images, videos, hash tags (when appropriate), responses…all posted at the right time (when followers are online) on a regular basis. A successful social media presence requires a plan that follows the company’s sales cycle (here’s how to craft a complete online marketing plan). In short, a successful social media presence requires time.

If the answer is in-house, a company manager should take care to choose the right employee who can maintain a regular posting schedule. If there is no one on staff who has the time or expertise, outsource the effort to an experienced marketing company.

10 Offline & Online Tips to Build Your Social Media Following

counter with numbers that business owners set as goal to grow social media followingIt’s one of the frustrations we hear from businesses new to social media: “Where do I get started? How do I get people to follow my page?”  Interestingly, we hear the same from social media veterans with the goal of trying to grow their social media following.  Here’s our answer to their common social media marketing question (only longer and more in-depth).

Have a plan.

Don’t just tackle social media without a plan.  We’ve given you step-by-step directions on how to draft an online marketing plan in our recent post; for social media, make sure you have a set plan that follows your sales cycle (i.e. what events or products you sell at different times of the year) without bashing your followers over the head with “buy, buy, buy!”  posts.  Instead, ask yourself, what’s going on in my followers lives?  What do they want to know?  What do they want to see in their feed?  From there, draft a customer-centric plan that follows your sales cycle and gives your followers what they want.

Make sure you’re on the right social media site(s).

Don’t think you have to be on every social media site to get results.  Target your efforts at social media sites where your customers are based on their demographics (or what they tell you!).

Make your social media marketing a team effort

If you are a real estate firm, ask your employees to follow your page and share information with their friends. That doesn’t mean they need to share everything, but, as powerful advocates, they can share posts they feel are relevant and expose your business posts to a new audience.

If you (and your managers and employees) don’t have time for social media (you know what we’re talking about you only post every once in awhile or when you have time), consider outsourcing your efforts to experts that keep up with the latest practices and information.  To get best results, schedule regular contacts with your marketing firm so they have insight about your business and customers.

Give your followers a reason to follow you.

The proverbial social media love is not given, it is earned.  Give your followers a reason to want you in their feed with the inside scoop (pictures of workers, problems, and finished products), information, and entertainment (if appropriate).  On occasion, you can add a social media contest to the mix, but make sure you give your followers a reason to share the contest—and your new followers a reason to keep caring about your profiles even after the winner is announced. (More social media contest tips here.)

In addition to posting relevant information, make sure your two-way social media conversations are not one-sided; respond promptly (within 1-2 hours) to all messages, reviews, and comments so your customers know you care about them.  Don’t leave them hanging.  If you do get a negative comment (one of the risks of social media), use these tips to respond to an angry customer.  For comments that require customer service, invite them to send you a private message so you can resolve their issue.

Invite people at the counter, in sales meetings and when you provide customer service.

We know, in the digital world we live in, it seems counter-intuitive that spreading the word via mouth is still one of the best ways to draw people to your social media sites. It’s also one of the easiest. A simple, “Don’t forget to check our Facebook page for discounts” when you check out a customer or ending a client meeting with “We’d really appreciate it if you’d check out our social media sites for more information” is a personal invitation. In today’s world, many of your customers and clients can find the site right there—and continue the connection that you initiated in person.

Integrate your social media and blog into your marketing materials.

Producing a brochure? Add your Twitter profile address. Sending out a direct mail piece? Don’t forget to add a QR code they can scan with their smart phone that takes them straight to your Facebook page.

Use hashtags.

This tip comes with a caveat: make sure that you use hashtags appropriately and on the social media sites where they should be used.  Don’t use too many; usually, 3 to 5 hashtags can be used on Twitter and Instagram to get results.  Too many hashtags can actually sabotage your results and—if used on a social media site where hashtags usually aren’t—make you look like you don’t know what you’re doing.

Here’s how to use them right: scout out other users and see how they use hashtags successfully.  Research hashtags before you use them instead of just blindly jumping on the bandwagon.  Don’t try to use a hashtag to promote your product if the hashtag is related to a tragic event.  This tactic can backfire and cause your business to be seen as insensitive.  Feeling like you’re over your head? Hire experts who know the ins and outs of hashtags on social media.

Connect your social media pages to your website.

If a customer is on the verge about buying your product, the “tipping point” that influences their buying decision may be a discount or promotion. But how will they know about it? Add links to your social media sites to your website. Today’s consumers not only research your website, but your social media sites as well—and you need to make it easy for them.

Add the social media addresses to your email signature.

This is one of the simplest—and most overlooked—way to spread the word about your social media sites. You send emails to your customers with quotes, product information and customer service inquiries. Why wouldn’t you want to continue to connect with them after they’ve read your email?

Don’t give up.

Social media is not a sprint, it’s a marathon.  Set your expectations accordingly.  No matter the results (or lack thereof), don’t abandon your social media efforts.  To the contrary, use the two R’s of social media marketing to grow your follower base: relevancy and regular posts (so they don’t forget about you).  Then, test out different ways to connect with them—and you’ll see your followers start to grow.