Everyone is jumping on the social media bandwagon these days, and if you own a small business, you probably want to join in. After all, having a presence on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram builds brand awareness and customer engagement and generates leads — or at least that’s idea.
Unfortunately, many small businesses enter the social media arena without a clear strategy in mind. They build a presence, but they do so without knowing what they are trying to accomplish or why. They have a poorly developed vision for what a social media presence can do for them, and so their campaigns fall short of their intended mark.
The good news is that this doesn’t have to happen to you. Follow these simple tips to develop a social media strategy that works for your firm.
Planning Your Social Media Campaign
The first and most important part of any social media campaign is planning — figuring out what you are trying to accomplish and setting clear goals. According to Cameron Uganec of Hootesuite, that means choosing one or two objectives and using those to focus your campaign and map out your plans. “This will help you align your campaign with business objectives, communicate clearly with everyone involved, and show clear results at the end,” he said in an email to Small Business Trends.
Know Your Customers Needs
Just as important as knowing what you want to accomplish with your social media campaign is knowing what your customers want and need. Social media is all about customer engagement, and that means you need to know who your customers are and what problems your product or service solves for them. As Uganec points out, “Many social media campaigns fall flat because they’re product-centric rather than highlighting the pain you can solve for the customer.”
How can you learn what your customers want from your company? Ask! Send a survey to customers on your mailing list, or post a series of one-question mini-polls on your website. Ask,“What are your biggest frustrations in dealing with [your industry]?” “What can we do better?” “What do you wish we could do for you that it is not being done now?”
Most people will be happy to share their insights, and the information you get from their answers will be an invaluable tool in planning your campaign.
Don’t Market — Engage
Many small businesses make the mistake of using social media to market their products or promote their brand, rather than using it as a tool to interact with their customers in new and interesting ways. Use your website for telling customers what you do; use social media to show them who you are.
What type of content is appropriate for your social media sites? Relevant posts from your company blog or profiles of your employees is one good idea. Contests and challenges can be very successful as well. Remember the ALS Association’s “Ice Bucket Challenge” in 2014 ? It generated $220 million for the nonprofit and raised ALS awareness across the globe.
Build a Following with Regular Posts
No matter what social media channels you use to create your campaign, the only way to build a following is to post engaging content regularly. If you can’t commit to posting something interesting every day, don’t resort to canned messages or meaningless fluff. Create a posting schedule that works for you and stick to it. That way your customers know what to expect.
Plan for Two-Way Communication
As you build a social media presence, plan a strategy for responding to feedback and customer-service requests. According to a 2013 J.D. Power study, 67 percent of users have used a social media platform to request some form of customer service. What’s more, failing to respond to these interactions can have very negative results. Says Jacqueline Anderson, director of social media and text analytics at J.D. Power and Associates, “Companies that are focused only on promoting their brand and deals…are excluding major groups of their online community, negatively impacting their satisfaction.”
Keeping your social media campaign customer-centric is absolutely essential, Anderson adds.
“If your customers want service and you’re pushing discount coupons out to them while ignoring their attempts to connect with you, you’re going to end up with dissatisfied customers,” which will influence their purchasing decisions in a negative way.
Running a small business today involves juggling a vast array of complex moving parts. That’s why getting expert advice is so important to your success. At Carmoon Group, we have a full staff of insurance professionals who can help you minimize your risk and plan for future growth. Give us a call at 516-292-3780 to set up an appointment to speak with a business insurance specialist. Or if you prefer, request a free consultation online now.