If you are a small business owner, it is important (if not critical) to have a good social media presence.
These days, the vast majority of customers will actually research a business via their social media accounts before deciding to use their services.
Often, customers will look at your Facebook page before they look at your business website. Your social media pages gives you the perfect opportunity to highlight your services, humanise your business and attract potential customers.
But while there are many benefits associated with having and using social media, there are also some pitfalls all business owners should be aware of.
In the first instance, if your business is going to have a social media presence, it is critical that you update it on a regular basis.
Having a poorly maintained social media presence is sometimes worse than having no presence at all.
In this article, we look at the various things small business owners should do to ensure their social media pages complement their business, rather than detract from it.
Social media platforms give you the power to communicate directly with your customers and potentially attract new ones. You can follow the conversations people are having about your products or business and tailor your business accordingly. One of the best things you can do with your social media accounts is learn how your consumer wants you to talk to them, the frequency and the delivery. How are you communicating? Videos and visuals are your friend! A picture says a thousand words, right?
If you're new to social media, remember that the internet does not follow 9-5 operating hours. Users are posting 24/7, and what is relevant will change in an instant. You need to keep up with the conversation. Whether it's good or bad feedback from online users, it's all important. How you handle negative comments will have considerable impact on public perception of your brand. When you have a social media presence, it is a good idea to take the time to respond to all feedback - good and bad. By providing feedback on positive comments and handling public complaints or criticism with care, you will show your fans that you're listening. How many times have you seen a negative post on Facebook go viral for hours, or days, before the company publicly addresses the problem? How many customers do you think they could have lost in that time? Respond quickly and kindly and you can never go wrong.
Learn the importance of the hashtag. Hashtags are social media's way of categorising subjects. By using appropriate hashtags, you can create and follow a conversation. Moreover, it encourages your followers to share and engage with your posts, and allows potential consumers to follow along too. Encourage your audience to share stories that resonate with them. Use hashtags often and appropriately and your fans will follow suit. This will lead to a more engaged audience and increased brand exposure. Make sure you're specific when you use your hashtags, keep them short and, if you can, refer to your brand.
Think of social media as a marketplace where you can sell your business and your expertise. Consumers will happily give away information on social media channels through their behaviour. What are they ‘liking', what posts are attracting the most comments?
You can use your social media channels to reach a new market segment and sell directly to them. Look into Facebook's ‘Marketplace' or Instagram's ‘Shop Now' feature.
Make sure you are choosing a relevant social media network to sell your product. What platform are your customers using the most? Depending on the age group, targeting Instagram and Facebook would make more sense than Twitter or LinkedIn.
There are countless programs online that will allow you to schedule posts to go live at specific times (Hootsuite, for example). If you need to be able to reach customers in different time zones, scheduling will do all the work for you! Or perhaps there's something newsworthy that relates to a product you're pushing? Scheduling will allow you to stay relevant even when you're asleep!
As you can see, there is a lot to know about the wonderful world of social media. If you have never used it before, it can seem daunting. Don't be deterred. Push forward with your social media plans. It may take a while to gain traction, but once it does, the reward can be well worth the effort.