- Be Yourself
People want to follow your business because they’re interested in what you do and who you are. Social media is a place where you can build relationships and connect with your customers, so treat them like you would if you were in the same room.
You wouldn’t just shout endlessly in someone’s face about why they should buy your products, so why would you do that on social media? Talk about what’s going on in your industry, what you’re company is up to and who the people behind the logo really are to give your followers an insight into the business.
- Treat it like you would the rest of your business
Social media is just as important as advertising, marketing and accounts. You wouldn’t put a graduate intern in charge of your advertising budget or payroll, so why are you doing it for social media?
Your online presence is a window into your business, and you want it to reflect who you are and what you do, which is why you want someone who knows the business inside and out behind your social media. Being able to field questions, get involved with relevant, topical conversations and having the confidence to talk about every aspect of your business are all things you should be able to do on social media, so you need people behind it who can cover all those bases.
- Do what works for you
It may not seem like it, but you don’t have to have a presence on all social media channels! Managing Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Snapchat is going to take up a lot of time, and they’re not necessarily all going to be of use to your business.
Pinterest and Instagram can be useful for businesses that rely on visuals; fashion brands, estate agents and restaurants can rake in the likes with some well-lit photography, but they might not be worth the time investment if you ply your trade as a mechanic or animal feed sales person, where Facebook might be more relevant for getting your name out there by word-of-mouth.
It’s worth checking out the competition and see which platforms they’re using and what works for them. Remember, it’s better not to have a presence on a social media channel then to have a bad one.
- Get everyone involved
As we’ve touched on already, social media can be a time consuming process, and so unless you’re employing someone specifically to be your social media manager, it should be something that everyone in the company gets involved with.
If everyone contributes, then you’ll have more regular updates, and you’ll be getting relevant content on a daily basis. Encourage updates from the office, images from from employees out on the road, video snippets and advice from meetings, and discussions from different people based on their expertise on topics that are relevant to your audience.
- You reap what you sow
Like with many other things in life, you get out of social media what you put into it. If you post on Twitter once every six weeks, then you’re not going to grow your followers and you definitely won’t see any benefits to your business from social media.
If we look at it in it’s simplest form, all you really have to do is post interesting, engaging, relevant content on a regular basis to reap the rewards of social media.
- Images and video
Images and video are key when it comes to social media. As an example, tweets with images receive 18% more click throughs, 89% more likes, and 150% more retweets. (SOURCE: https://www.brandwatch.com/blog/44-twitter-stats-2016/)
Images and videos provide eye catching content, which is essential when you think how swiftly people scroll through their timelines and how busy people are in this day and age. Who wants to read a tweet when you can just look at a picture?
- Consider wider opportunities
Twitter isn’t just about telling people what you’re up to or plugging your latest product. Journalists use it to find stories, consumers use it for recommendations, and people build friendships with people they’ve met through a 140-character conversation.
You can join in on conversations relevant to your business, contribute to Twitter discussions, and follow journalists specific to your sector to find out if they have and media opportunities for comments or features that could be a good platform for your business.
- Make a plan. What are your goals?
Before getting started on social media, it’s worth sitting down and working out what your goals are. It’s not worth building a huge following of irrelevant accounts, when you could focus on a smaller audience who are relevant to your business.
Working out how you use your channel will make it much clearer for everyone involved. How do you want to respond to negative tweets? How will you deal with customer service queries? Do you want to run competitions on your channels? Do you have an image bank that you can use for brand promotion? Are you planning to use a scheduling service?
All of these things should be considered before launching your channels to make sure you know how your business is coming across on social media.
- Listen to your customers
Whether you like it or not, your social media channels will have a customer service aspect to them, especially if you are providing a product or service directly to the public. The important thing is to know how you are going to respond to customer services comments to queries.
It’s likely that the majority of interactions will be positive, which is fantastic for your business, but any negativity must also be dealt with in a sensible fashion. Making sure customers know that their issue has been heard is the first step to resolving any issues, and then taking the problem off social media by providing a phone number or email address is the way forward.
The majority of the time, people just want to know that they have been heard and that someone has taken their thoughts into consideration.
- Build relationships
Using social media as an extension of your business is key to building relationships and creating a relevant following across your channels. Make sure all of your customers are aware of your social media details, have them visible around your business, on any marketing materials you might have, and make sure they’re linked on your website and newsletter.
The majority of your customers will have a social media presence, so it’s worth tapping into the support and loyalty of people who regularly use your business; if they support you offline, they will be more than happy to support you online as well.
Contributed by Iona St Joseph, Scene & Herd Consultant
Scene & Herd specialises in all aspects of rural communications from traditional public relations to digital marketing and everything in between. Contact us for an informal chat.