Category Archives: Twitter

Why Facebook Isn’t Always Right for Your Company

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happy businessman jumping into social media for companyWhen business owners see—or start to hear about—the benefits of social media for business, their first inclination is to jump on board.  It makes sense, especially with all the goals that can be achieved with a solid social media presence.

There is one down side to just jumping in to social media: the step of choosing what social media site is right for the business is completely overlooked.  Instead, most people tend to sign up for the biggest site so they can cast a big net, or the social media site they have a personal profile on.

That’s when you need to just slow down.

Don’t get us wrong: we’re not saying that Facebook is the wrong site for every business (we’re not!).  We’ve achieved great things for many businesses on Facebook.  What we are saying is that when you’re considering signing your business up for social media, your first step should be deciding what site or sites is right for you—and how many sites you can manage well.

Choosing the right social media site(s)

social media sites behind smart phoneMatching your business to the right social media site (or sites) is a match made in heaven, because it allows you to reach the people who like—and want to buy—your products.  They’re your target audience—and should be your social media focus.

That’s the problem with jumping on the biggest site, or the site you have a personal profile on.  If your target audience isn’t on that social media site (more info on social media sites and key demographics in this infographic), you’re not going to engage with the people you want—and want you.

Are you a hair salon or bridal shop? Consider Pinterest, where images and a mostly-female demographic fit with your product. Sports team? Consider Twitter where fans are waiting for your 140-character updates.

Worse for your business is when you jump on that site, or all the major social media sites, and then discover you don’t have time.  An abandoned Facebook page, Twitter profile, or any other business page isn’t going to get you results—and it looks bad to anyone who happens upon your abandoned site.

What makes a solid social media presence

Plan

A good social media plan for your business revolves around two key factors: target audience and business calendar. Knowing your target audience facilitates 1) choosing social media sites; 2) selecting the right tone for your audience; 3) determining what content you create and post to social media that fits your audience.

A good social media marketing plan follows the 80/20 or 70/30 rule. Twenty percent of your posts should be promotional and 80% entertaining (if appropriate), relevant and valuable to your audience.

Scheduling tool

To execute a stellar and efficient social media plan, sign up for a good scheduling tool, such as Hootsuite or Buffer. Don’t schedule your social media posts too far in advance so you can stay on top of trending topics.  When necessary, be flexible when needed.

Hash tags

On certain social media sites, such as Twitter and Instagram, hash tags are not optional —at least not for anyone (or business) who wants to gain traction on social media. Posts with relevant hash tags can expose your post to potential followers interested in your industry or topic. Hash tags are also invaluable when starting a conversation, running a photo contest, promoting an event, or executing a coordinated social media campaign. Create original hash tags without any “online baggage” (i.e. used before with negative connotations, taken from a competitor) and promote them through an integrated marketing campaign that includes online and offline marketing efforts.

Quality images

Social media posts with images have been proven time and again to receive significantly more engagement than posts without. Use this social media image cheat sheet to create images optimal for your social media network, and be very selective about the images you create or choose. Don’t just pull random images off the internet; this can lead to serious legal repercussions (more about image copyright info by Hootsuite here).

If you decide Pinterest or Instagram is right for your business, don’t just worry about size; worry about the quality of your images. These social media networks are visual networks, and you won’t get results unless you have high-quality images and attention-grabbing text.

Regular posts/Time

Your social media plan isn’t going to gain momentum if you’re present for a period and gone for awhile.  Inconsistent social media posts are going to get you nowhere if you take the feast and famine approach.  Put simply, great social media execution requires regular time—and not just when you have the time.

The definition of “regular” depends on the social media site you are on. Whatever site—and the frequency of your posts—you find works for your company, choose quality posts over quantity. Twenty ‘junk’ tweets or posts won’t get you results (except for bogus followers) if your tweets aren’t valuable and relevant. If you don’t have time to produce and find quality posts, outsource your efforts for optimal social media results on the right site for your business.

12 Fresh Social Media Post Ideas

social media postsHappy Social Media Day! In honor of this fun holiday, we’re answering one of the most common questions we hear, “What should I put on my social media page?” We’ve given some guidance on the subject before, by recommending you use two R’s to guide your social media work (and no the two R’s are not rant and rave) and a few ideas for social media posts. Today, we’re getting “down and gritty,” and more specific, with 10 fresh ideas for social media posts:

  1. Tie your subject for your post into a “holiday.” Who doesn’t love National Donut Day, Social Media Day or National Hug Your Cat Day?
  2. Post pictures of the people behind your business, at work. Give your customers a peak behind the scenes, and tie faces to your business. Make sure your photos match the tone of your business, and choose who you profile strategically.
  3. Make your audience feel like they are getting the “inside scoop.” Tell your audience something they might not know about your product, business or a generic industry stat.
  4. Share community involvement. If you’re a local business, show that you are part of the community around you by showing your involvement in local activities like festivals, trick-or-treat, etc.
  5. Make your product a contest. Ask your customers if they know the answer to a multiple choice question or an open-ended question. Try to make it fun and industry-specific.
  6. Video. The video could be of a service you do, or something you do for the community, or of your company dog having fun. Try to ask yourself what your audience can get out of the video. How does this fit in to my marketing plan?
  7. Give your business a “Where’s Waldo?” social media effect. If your workers are on the go, put up a random photo and ask your audience to guess where they are, or just to show you can go anywhere to help your customers.
  8. Show you have a history. Yes, Throwback Thursday is one of the oldest phenomena in social media. But it’s also a neat way to show how you started out, and how far you’ve come. An old photo also matches your business to a face, even if it’s the face of a founder.
  9. ‘Fill-in-the-blank’ or ‘caption this’ photos. It doesn’t matter what kind of photo it is—silly, mysterious or serious—give your audience input into the photos you post.
  10. Photos, photos and more photos. Statistics have repeatedly shown that social media posts with visual content get more engagement. If you’re posting on Pinterest and Instagram, photos are NOT optional. They are a must to get engagement. Don’t be afraid to share photos from other pages as well, as long as they are relevant to your business.
  11. Mix it up. Don’t let your social media page get stale! Use a variety of different kinds of posts and media to get your audience’s attention and keep it.
  12. Outsource if needed. We’ve said it before, and we stand by it: there is no shame or blame in outsourcing. If you want to get results from your social media page, you need relevant and regular posts on your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest profile or page. Contact experts that know the social media platforms and can give you the regular and relevant posts that relate to your business. You’ll need to give input, as we outlined in our post about outsourcing your marketing do’s and don’ts, but the end result is worth the effort.

Do’s and Don’ts of Twitter

social media marketing TwitterYou wouldn’t jump into a pool without learning to swim, would you? Use the same strategy with Twitter for your business: don’t jump into this unique social media site without learning the do’s and don’ts of Twitter. Twitter can give a business a huge competitive edge, but if you don’t learn to “swim” on Twitter, all you’re going to do is sink—publicly and embarrassingly without reaching the goal you set out to achieve.

Do have a goal for your Twitter account. Is your goal to establish your business on Twitter as a subject matter expert? Are you using Twitter to interact with your customers?

Don’t leave your Twitter profile picture as the annoying egg. You’re missing out on a huge opportunity to establish your brand by not changing your Twitter profile and header photo. Create a bio unique to your business that tells your followers who you are and what to expect—all in 160 characters.

Do use hashtags. Find a #hashtag topic that fits your tweets to extend the reach of your tweets. You can find these hashtags by clicking on the hashtag in other tweets and seeing a list of tweets with that hashtag, or by typing in a #hashtag in the search box.

Don’t over use hashtags. There is a limit to the amount of hashtags that are effective. Plus, you look like a Twitter dork using a million hashtags.

Do tweet often, and tweet valuable content. How often you tweet is up to you. You can tweet as much as you like, but don’t tweet junk. You won’t achieve your social media goals with worthless (to your followers) tweets.

Don’t tweet ONLY about you. The 80/20 rule is a general guide to use when setting your tweeting schedule. Schedule 20% promotional tweets and 80% tweets that bring value to your customers.

Do remember that Twitter is its own animal with its own set of rules and followers. Linking your Facebook account to your Twitter account is a huge social media faux paux. Your followers can tell what you’ve done, and you won’t achieve the goal you joined Twitter for in the first place. Each social media platform has its own atmosphere, so customize your message for each platform.

Don’t send an automated message every time someone follows you. We’re begging you: please don’t send us an automated DM (direct message). Everyone can tell it’s automated, and it makes you look fake.

Do share content from other Twitter accounts and interact with other Twitter accounts. Twitter is about sharing, so SHARE and respond. Retweet tweets with valuable content (articles) that answer your customers’ questions, bring humor to your audience (if appropriate) and sheds light on industry trends and news. If you see a tweet with a @yourTwitterhandle in your notifications, it means someone is talking to you. Respond appropriately.

Don’t mix personal and business accounts. If you are a CEO of your company, this is complicated. But if the Twitter account is for your business, stick to business and industry information, along with photos of you and your employees on the job. Don’t flood your business account with a stream of tweets reflecting your personal views.

Do respond to negative reviews. This do comes with a don’t: don’t ignore negative reviews and comments. Instead, respond to your angry customer diplomatically by using these simple steps. Remember, everyone’s watching how you respond. This is your chance to show your excellent customer service skills.

Don’t abandon your Twitter account because you don’t have time. Social media may have a dark side, but is also a valuable communication tool full of opportunity. Twitter shows your business is available to your customers, knowledgeable about your products, services and industry and concerned about your customers, community and vendors. If you don’t have time to take advantage of social media, contact the marketing experts to manage your Twitter account, and produce content that you can share on social media.

Social Media 102: Twitter Basics for Business

twitter social media“Twitter doesn’t make any sense!” “It’s just a random group of words!” “I can’t make any sense of the twits!” We’ve heard it all from skeptics, including the most common, “Is anyone even on Twitter?” The answer is yes, with more than 300 million Twitter users log on every month to converse about everything from news to marketing to well, everything. To be sure, Twitter has evolved to a social media platform in its own right with its own identity—and advantages for businesses looking to engage with other twits, tweeps and all the other nicknames given to people who enjoy the 140-character conversations. Other advantages of using Twitter include:

  • Give your business a voice. Use Twitter as a chance to communicate and build relationships with your audience (make sure you know who that is) with a voice unique to your business. If appropriate, don’t be afraid to use humor and fun to engage with your audience.
  • Real-time engagement. Unlike other social media platforms, your tweets are seen by all your followers in real-time. There are no algorithms that impacts who sees your posts—and who doesn’t.
  • Establish your business as a subject matter expert. Twitter gives your brand the opportunity to show that you have expertise in your industry and to build trust with potential customers.
  • Provide quality customer service. Remember, Twitter is real-time. That means you can get positive and negative feedback from your customers. Don’t delete the negative comments; use the interaction as a chance to show that you listen to your customers, can provide quality customer service and are responsive to all feedback. With the negative also comes the positive feedback; monitor and record these comments to use as future testimonials. Oh, and don’t forget to say thank you to your loyal customers for taking the time to engage.

Because of Twitter’s uniqueness, it’s not unusual to feel intimidated and lost in the ocean of information. Ready for a Twitter breakthrough? Use this list of the must-know terms of Twitter, and some guidelines as you learn this micro-blogging site.

Twitter tweetTweets. A tweet is 140 characters (max!) of thoughts: silly thoughts, fun words, valuable information, teasers. Your tweets are about your business, your industry, your community and your passions. You can also attach a photo to your tweet, so know optimal sizes for your Twitter images. Tweets with links have been shown to get more favorites and retweets (see below) than tweets without. One note: it doesn’t matter the size of your link, as all links over 22 characters are counted as 22 characters. If you want to create a link that is smaller, use a link shortner which can be found with a simple search on Google, Yahoo or Bing.

Feed. A feed is a real-time list of tweets from accounts you have chosen to follow.

Hashtags. What was once known only as the pound sign has now become the source of useful and snarky additions to tweets. Hashtags are usually at the end of a tweet, though they can be in any part of your tweet. Hashtags can be used as a label that tells you the category or theme of a tweet. Businesses have also had great success in using hashtags as part of an event, such as a business conference or community outreach event and as part of fun campaigns to increase engagement with their customers and create a sense of community. Hashtags can also work in reverse, and are a great way to find tweets on a common subject, or all the tweets about a recent event.

Retweets. Retweets are your way to share other users’ tweets. Twitter recently added a feature that allows you to retweet and add a short comment, but you can retweet without. Remember that a retweet is an association with your brand, so make sure you click on links and know what you’re sharing before you hit the retweet symbol. You’re tweets are a reflection of your brand; be careful to stay on topic and when tweeting about sensitive issues. Treat your retweets the same way you would your dinner party conversation.

Favorites. A favorite shows that you like the user’s tweet. To find out how many retweets and favorites a tweet has, just look under the tweet. The star indicates number of favorites, and the rectangle is the symbol for retweets.

Direct messages. Direct messages are private messages sent between two users on Twitter. DM’s, as they are commonly referred to, are found under messages in the upper left corner.

Followers. Followers are the accounts that want to see what you have to say. These accounts see your tweets in their feed, and are most likely to engage with you.

Following. Following are the accounts that you want to see tweets from. These accounts show up in your feed, and can be sorted in lists if you want to organize them.

Twitter chats. Twitter chats are a group of users that converse about a certain topic. You can follow a twitter chat by typing in the hashtag associated with the twitter chat in the search box.

Don’t feel like you have time for this unique social media platform and mastering the art of the tweet? Trust your business Twitter account to experts who can build and grow your presence with your guidance. Use these do’s and don’ts of outsourcing, and be prepared to create a plan that takes advantage of all the opportunities that come with Twitter.

Why You Shouldn’t Abandon (and maybe even care about!) Social Media

social media marketingFacebook, Twitter and other social media networks are littered with abandoned orphans; business profiles and pages started with well-meaning intentions and enthusiasm, and left to rot when the enthusiasm ran out. We’re not pointing any fingers here; often these social media pages are left behind because the owner doesn’t have time, the employee that started the page left or the author didn’t feel like they were doing anything because no there were no likes. It happens.

The most unfortunate part of the situation is that the business is not reaping any of the benefits of a solid social media presence. While we’ve written about the dark side of social media, there are some definite benefits of a solid social media presence for businesses—small, medium and large—on the social media network(s) that fit their brand. For example, a bridal shop would benefit from a solid social media presence on Pinterest, which has a predominately large percentage of female users. Remember, don’t just join any social media network, find the social media network where your customers are and that fits your industry. Avoid joining a social media network just because “everyone is on there.” You won’t do service to your brand, and won’t be reaching your key audience interested in purchasing your product (remember, you are doing this to sell products).

When choosing what social media network to join, factor in the amount of time and commitment you have for the network or networks. Many a business has signed up for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and the works because they want to be everywhere and everything, without a thought about the amount of time it takes to properly maintain each social media network—yes, each network, because every social media network has its own audience and way of doing things. If you’re not playing by the “rules” on each social media network, you’re not going to get the results you signed up for.

So what are you signing up for when you hit the “I agree” buttons on the social media networks? Besides a marketing tool that requires time and commitment, you also get these benefits of a solid social media presence:

  1. Free connection to your customers (and potential customers). This is your potential customers’ chance to learn about you and you to learn about them. Note this is a two-way street! While you may be on social media networks for sales conversions, this is your chance to listen to what your customers want and give them relevant resources to help solve their problems (and no the answer to their life problems is not always your product or service!). This is also your chance to show potential customers that you listen to your audience, who you are as a business and that you can provide excellent and prompt customer service.
  2. Ability to provide excellent and prompt customer service (with an emphasis on prompt!). If your customer has a problem, this is your chance to help—and help quickly. Studies show that customers expect a response within two hours, and that number is dropping. Respond promptly, because studies also repeatedly show that customers come back to businesses who have delivered quality customer service in the past—even if their product or service costs more than competitors.
  3. Unsolicited testimonials. Customers can leave reviews or comments about your products on your social media sites. Obviously, these reviews can go both ways, but you can also turn those negative comments into a positive. Start by not deleting negative comments or reviews. Instead, choose the opportunity to show your business can provide excellent customer service. If the reviewer is particularly angry, use these tips to defuse the situation.
  4. Chance to sell your products, and your company. We’ve seen businesses where the customers messaged to set up appointments. They were sold based on what they had seen on social media and in the community and ready to buy. We’ve seen other customers comment on pictures on social media and tag their friends because they really like the product. The crux of getting to the point of sales is to create a social media site that is not all about the business. While this seems like an oxymoron, this is your chance to show how customer-centric is by providing excellent and prompt customer service and resources that meet your customers’ needs.

The takeaway: notice the catch. Your business can reap benefits from a solid social media presence, not just a social media orphan page with irregular and outdated posts. A solid social media presence has:

  • Regular posts (the definition of regular is dependent upon the social media network)
  • Relevant resources for your customers
  • A customer-centric presence, not a business-centric approach (remember, social media is not about your business!)
  • Prompt replies to customers questions and comments (excellent customer service)

If you want to cash in on the benefits and opportunities that come with social media but don’t have the time, outsource your business social media page or profile to experts that can manage your social media network(s). We’ve said it before: there’s no shame or blame in outsourcing. There are some do’s and don’ts that come with outsourcing, but the goal is the same: to create a social media site for your customers. Remember, don’t measure your success on the number of followers, but on the number of engaged followers. These are the customers who are your advocates in the community and on social media. They are leaving positive reviews and engaging with your business—giving your business the results that you joined social media for in the first place.

5 (More) Online Marketing Mistakes You’re Making

company execMistakes breed inspiration, and inspiration breeds blog posts that help us all improve. We’re building on our last post 5 Online Marketing Mistakes You’re Making with five more common mistakes that we see business owners and marketers make every day marketing on the web and social media. Are you making these common online marketing mistakes?

  1. Not remembering the #1 rule of marketing. Though it’s the rule of successful marketing, many business owners and marketers forget that we’re reaching out to people—real, breathing people. That’s why it’s so important to use another guideline when producing marketing pieces: the two R’s of Social Media Marketing. What do your customers want? Who are you talking to?
  2. Ignoring hashtags on Twitter and Instagram. Hashtags are a valuable way to reach “outside the box”—and, no, we’re not talking about thinking creatively. Adding hashtags to your tweets and Instagram posts exposes your tweets and posts to another audience—to users who are following the hashtag or looking for information on that topic. If you’re tweet or post is useful, this is a sure-fire way to gain followers.
  3. Thinking your social media sites will grow on their own. If you want to gain followers, fans—whatever the social media user base is referred to on your social media site—you need to tell people. Use these ways to spread the word about your site, and don’t forget to give people a reason to want to follow your site.
  4. Making “knee jerk” decisions. This happens to business owners in so many different ways: by responding to an angry customer without thinking (find out how to respond professionally here), selecting an SEO firm without doing research, by tweeting or posting without thinking about the ramifications of what you’re saying. Proper social media posts, choosing the SEO firm that gets results, even responding to customers via your website or social media, takes careful thought (and sometimes training). If you don’t have time, don’t risk it. Look into outsourcing, training or to other business owners for information.
  5. By responding to your customers once a week. It’s not enough! The average American’s time online is growing, giving them more opportunities to reach out to your company with questions through your website and social media. Ignoring their questions, or waiting too long, is a definite way to lose your customers’ interest, and their business. Respond to inquiries (read how to set up an efficient customer service system here) within a few hours of the question, even if it’s just with a “Thank you for your question. Can you please give us more information so we can answer your question completely?”

Effective online marketing takes time and effort, so don’t cut corners. Do your research and keep up with SEO and social media marketing trends, or hire experts who can. You’ll find the rewards from a well-thought out online presence to be worth the time and funds, plus you’ll save the embarassment of common online marketing mistakes.

The Dark Side of Social Media Marketing

social media_croppedWe know this blog post seems contradictory for a firm that believes in social media marketing, and even offers social media marketing services. We can even hear the question, “Wait, there’s a downside to social media???” The fact is: business social media marketing is a world of untapped potential with endless possibilities. We’ve seen customers make purchasing decisions on Facebook and Twitter, and we’ve seen potential customers become loyal customers because of social media. That being said, businesses have to remember that marketing opportunity comes the potential for negatives. The more you know about the negatives of social media marketing, and common mistakes other businesses make, the more prepared you can be to avoid them:

  1. Losing business because of slow response times. Customers expect prompt responses when they ask questions on social media. What is a prompt response? Think minutes or, at worst, a few hours—not days or weeks.
  2. Brand image problems associated with an angry online customer. This does happen, and sometimes it happens in spite of all your best efforts. The most important part is to respond, and respond professionally and quickly. Try to take your discussions with the angry customer into messages where you can gather details and offer customer service. Just make sure you respond promptly—an unanswered angry customer is an angry customer who posts disparaging comments and reviews all over your social media pages until they get an answer.
  3. Losing customers because of sporadic social media posts. This negative is especially true for your younger customers who rely on online engagement with companies. If they don’t see you (or hear from you), they are not going to turn to you for information and questions when it’s time to buy.
  4. Unfavorable business reviews. Don’t delete the unfavorable reviews, or angry customer comments. Customers see this as hiding from the truth and manipulation. Rather, respond to their reviews with a professional reply, and ask them to message you with details about their unfavorable encounter. Ask them questions, offer them a discount (but make it a meaningful offer so you don’t insult them) and promise them better assistance in the future. Remember, in today’s day and age, any encounter with a customer can go viral—both the good and the bad.
  5. Backlash from inappropriate business social media posts. As a rule of thumb, don’t post or tweet about politics or religion. Stick to what you know—your products, services and industry—without selling too much. Before you post anything, think “how will this be viewed by my customers?” If your post can be taken in any negative way, err on the side of caution. Don’t post or tweet it.

The good news is that 90% of these problems can be avoided with education and research or outsourcing to an affordable social media marketing agency. Good social media marketing agencies offer affordable social media marketing packages, so you can select what’s right for your business. Hiring a social media marketing agency also means hiring social media experts who can answer all your social media marketing questions, and make recommendations based on what they’ve seen work for other businesses. Really, social media marketing is simple: to harness the positives, avoid the negatives by contacting the experts that can help you tap into that marketing potential.

Why would I want my business to be on social media?

social media_croppedYou can almost hear the exasperation in the voice of a business owner asking the question, can’t you? Exasperation or not, this question is excellent because creating a solid social media presence for your business takes work and time. Yes that’s right—work and time—because a good social media page needs relatable and relevant content on a regular basis to get results. It’s also valuable to stay up-to-date on the latest social media trends, which is another piece of the social media puzzle that takes time.

So why should your business be on social media??? Why? Good question, and we have equally good and solid reasons for your business to take the leap to social media:

  • 60% of customers make a purchasing decision without picking up the phone. One of our clients recently said to us, “It used to be that people would call, and I would have a chance to educate and sell to them. Now it’s not that way.” It’s true: people pick up a computer to decide what product is right for them or what company provides the best service. They make the decision when they want to (or are available to do so) on a mobile device easily at their finger tips. In the case of social media, people are on these networks daily anyways, so why not research the best companies while checking out the latest viral videos?
  • Customers expect customer service within minutes of their inquiry. We’ve all heard the frustration from a customer who has been put on hold way too long by a company. This is your chance to provide excellent online customer service promptly (learn how to handle a disgruntled customer in our recent blog post), leaving a lasting impression with your customer that will guide their next interaction and sale with your company.
  • Social media is your 24/7 connection to your customer. Consumers are retired, work first, second or third shift, are driven by their kids’ schedules…they’re busy. A recent study found that consumers expect your brand to be on social media, even if they don’t follow your page or profile. That means they expect you to be there, so they can reach out to you when they are available. We’ve seen potential customers schedule appointments with our clients while at work through social media, ask for information about a product through blog comments, and ask questions about services through social media posts. If you’re not on social media to answer their inquiries, they’ll reach out to your competitor for answers.
  • If you provide excellent products and service, your customers will let other customers know. We’re not going to lie to you. Not all customer reviews are good ones, but the good reviews are fodder for more good reviews—and for potential customers to find out what others think of you. Don’t cheat by asking your family and friends to leave reviews. Instead ask your satisfied customers to leave reviews on your social media sites. If you do get a customer with a bad review, make sure you respond promptly, sympathetically and with an apology if necessary.

Love what you hear about social media, but still don’t have the time? There’s no shame or blame in outsourcing your social media efforts to experts who can maintain your social media sites using your voice and the latest social media marketing information. The simple truth is that building a functional and beautiful website just isn’t enough anymore. It’s time to up the ante on your online marketing efforts. It’s time for your business to be on social media.

Why Marketing Doesn’t Work Without Customer Service (and what to do about it!)

company execIt’s our job to help companies grow their business. That’s our core objective and we take it very personally—your goals are our goals.  However, the longer we do this, the more we realize that online marketing—giving our companies a solid online presence, functional and impressive website, and top rankings on all the major search engines—does no good if the company doesn’t have customer service to back it up.

The most common client objective is to grow their business.  We deliver with higher search rankings, a solid social media presence and quality content on their website (to see why read our content marketing post). Our partnership with them and online marketing efforts produce customer leads through comments, online forms, emails and calls.

But what good are those leads if no one follows up? Most company owners do not set out to build a company with poor customer service, but customer inquiries often fall through the cracks. The result: a company providing poor customer service. So how can your company improve your customer service?

  • Don’t make email inquiries your last priority. We live in a digital world, with smart phones, tablets and computers becoming more common—and being used more and more to make purchasing decisions.
  • Set a standard operating procedure for handling customer inquiries. Don’t just handle customer inquiries without a strategy. Set a plan in place for handling phone calls, email inquiries and social media messages—and stick to it.
  • Make sure everyone answering the phones and emails are trained on SOPs and how to respond. A poorly trained employee is a liability when answering the phones. Don’t just throw your employees into the fire. Train and educate them. Inform them of SOPs and make sure they know proper protocols for answering the phones, handling customer questions and dealing with angry customers.
  • Designate someone responsible for answering and following through on each inquiry. This doesn’t mean you triple one employee’s workload. Choose an employee to answer phones, another to answer emails and a third to check your social media sites for messages. Be flexible. An employee completely overwhelmed by emails or phone calls is not in a good position to deliver exceptional customer service. Though you’ve designated employees, let them know to jump in if the phone is ringing off the hook or the inbox is full.
  • Offer customer service online, but don’t feel like you need to answer customer questions 24/7. Today’s consumers expect businesses to answer them within an hour, thanks to the instantaneous of the internet. However, you don’t need to provide that service all day and night. Put your business hours on your online form, and make it clear that inquiries are answered during that time.
  • Remember, every customer counts. It only takes one person’s bad experience to ruin a business’ reputation, and news travels fast on social media. One wrong response, or dropped inquiry can spread across the internet like wildfire. Though it may be tempting to just let that inquiry go because of a complex answer or a large workload, answer each inquiry as soon and completely as possible.

Study after study has proven that testimonials, and in our modern day, online reviews (like on Facebook), play a role in customers’ decision whether to purchase a company’s service or product. If you are not delivering good customer service, unfavorable reviews pile up on your social media sites and word spreads about your subpar customer service. The result: you can’t reach your goals no matter how much marketing tools you employ. We can create the marketing tools on your behalf, but you need to back it up with exceptional customer service. The good news: by using our customer service tips, you can achieve your goals and customers’ goals—two targets that should be in sync, or at least overlap.

5 Ways Not to Cut Corners In Social Media Marketing

social media_croppedThere always seems to be something more to do as a business owner, from day-to-day operations to trying to find the next big feature or service that gives your business the edge. Trying to find time to post to Facebook or tweeting can seem like a burden when your to-do list is long, but resist the urge to cut corners on your social media marketing. Your customers sense when you do, and you won’t achieve the results that you joined Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest to achieve.

  • Don’t cross post. Linking your Facebook page to Twitter, or your Pinterest account to Facebook may seem like a brilliant way to save time, however resist the temptation. Each social media site has its own atmosphere and set of rules, and social media players who play by those rules (your customers) do not look kindly on an obvious, automated cross post. In short, you are not giving your customers the good impression that you joined social media to achieve.
  • Using pictures without written consent is not recommended. With the advent of smart phones, it’s easy to snap a picture and share it on your social media site. Great time saver, right? Not so fast. If the subject of the picture is a customer, or someone in your store, follow a marketing best practice: get the subject’s written consent to use the photo.  This does not apply to pictures taken at public events.
  • Be prepared to be sued if you copy and paste photos from a Google search. We clearly remember the shocked expression of a local business owner when we told him that photos and graphics online are not for public use. This is a common misconception, and one that can get your business into legal hot water. Don’t assume the images that come up when you do a search are okay to use. Use your own photos or graphics, or be budget for stock photos from a photography site.
  • Don’t take a half-hearted approach to social media marketing. If we had a nickle for every time we heard a business owner say, “I meant to post regularly, but…” we’d own all of Wisconsin. Regular posts are important, because consistent customer interactions is the key to social media marketing results.
  • Schedule posts in moderation. Pre-scheduled posts seem like a great idea, don’t they? Just schedule all your posts for the month, then schedule the next. Your customers can see through the ruse. Schedule posts when you are on vacation, or for a short time period, but regularly check and live post your social media sites. You need to be able to respond to your customers, especially the occasional angry customer.

Don’t feel like you have to do all your social media marketing. There’s no shame or blame in outsourcing your social media marketing efforts. To the contrary, putting your business social media marketing in an expert’s hands can get you the results you desire: more customers, deeper customer interactions and an excellent online presence. Check out our do’s and don’ts of outsourcing so you know what to expect from hiring a social media marketing agency, then contact a firm that achieves results. Yes, it’s another thing to add to your to do list, but the long-term results, regular posts and shorter to do list are well worth it.