Social media is your business’s digital open sign.
Back in the days before social media existed (I know that is very hard for many people regardless of age to remember/imagine) one of the few ways that customers knew if a business was open was to physically see if the lights were on inside. That or to call on the telephone (yes, a landline) to see if someone answered. Today, in our fast-paced, digital world active social media is the equivalent to seeing if the lights are on. This is how many customers know if your business is open, thriving and ready to serve.
Let’s face it, like it or not social media has become a huge part of many people’s lives. Most people get much of their daily information directly from some form of social media. It could be content a specific business or organization puts out or it could be something a friend or someone they follow puts out. Either way, social media has become one of the most important platforms for disseminating content and information for both individuals as well as businesses and organizations. So how should you capitalize on this for your business or brand? Here are a few quick tips to ensure your business’s lights are always on via social media.
Use Social Media – If you have yet to start a Facebook page, a Twitter handle, an Instagram page, a LinkedIn page or any of the other relevant social media platform out there, what are you waiting for? Even if you’re not on social media I would say it’s a pretty safe bet that your customers are already using it to talk about you. Example, I had a client tell me they don’t have time for social media and they wouldn’t even know what to post if they did have it. A quick Twitter search on hashtags revealed numerous posts from satisfied customers that were already talking about them. They were missing out on the engagement of happy customers simply because they were not on social media. Don’t let this happen to your business, get on social media and start to engage. You’ll probably find your customers are already talking about you.
If You’re Open, Say So – Many social media platforms such as Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn as well as review sites such as Yelp and Google My Business offer a number of options to give viewers details about your business. This includes (but not limited to) address, contact info, hours of operation, brief description, photos etc. Utilize as many of these offerings as possible which allows your customers to know in real-time if you are open, where you are located and what you offer. Further, social media pages, especially the review type platforms rank really well in search engines (this could be a problem if you have bad reviews, I’ll address this in future articles) so having information that is accurate on social media is vital to your business being found. Often times social media pages are the first things to come up when a person searches for your business online. Make it easy for them to get a snapshot of your business when they search for you. Think of it as your virtual open/close sign.
Post Frequently – Frequency is relative to your business and industry. That said, posting more frequently will almost always be better than less frequently so post, post and post! There is no golden rule as to how often and what you should post but a good rule of thumb is to try to post at least once a day and if possible a couple of times a day. Example, food trucks are all the rage now-a-days. The food truck phenomenon started in California (chef Roy Choi and Kogi is a good example) with them posting to Twitter and Facebook each morning where the food truck would be located each day.
This allowed customers that followed them to know where they would be, what was on the menu and thus shared it with their friends so everyone knew where to meet for lunch. Pretty clever if you ask me. In addition to location and menu posts they’d post pictures of the food, happy customers and all sorts of other stuff each day. Not saying your business has to post that frequently but the more frequent you can the better off you’ll be.
Engage With Your Fans – Posting is just one aspect to engagement. The other is liking, retweeting, commenting, sharing, etc. Engagement with your fans and followers includes all of the above. If you only post and ignore the rest, it’s as if a robot is just posting things mechanically without emotion or thought. Don’t be a robot.
Read what others are posting, like it, comment on it, share it and let them know that you appreciate the feedback. Show that what your customers post and say is just as important as what you do.
It’s Not All About You – Social media is not like a print ad, a TV commercial or billboard in the sense that the message is all about your business. It’s a social network which means you can and should follow other businesses in your industry as well as other influencers. Share content from others, not just customers. Example, if a key influencer in your industry pens an article that speaks to a facet of your business then share it. Post it to your social channels with your own commentary as to why it’s important. Or another example might be if you’re a bakery owner and you often eat at a particular sandwich shop for lunch because they have the best sandwiches around why not say so on your social media? Maybe tweet a picture of your panini that you just ordered and give them a little credit. There is a good chance in doing so fans of the sandwich shop might now check out your bakery because you obviously have really good taste. Now, I wouldn’t go so far as to retweet your competition’s daily specials but a little engagement with non-competitors might just be a good thing for your business.
Don’t Bury Your Head – Yes, sometimes it’s not all positive. In fact, many times it’s downright negative (see article on Ann Coulter vs. Delta). Don’t make it worse by ignoring an unhappy customer that is engaging you via social media. If they engage you publicly via social media engage them back to show others that you are listening and responsive to customer feedback/complaints. Thank them for their feedback and encourage them to contact you or better yet, ask them how you can contact them directly and privately. Your goal is not to resolve the situation publicly on social media but rather to show your customer and the others watching that you are responsive and open to feedback. Once this is accomplished try to take the resolution offline. You don’t want to risk that your message is misinterpreted because of the limitations of written communications. Remember, tone is sometimes very hard to gauge with short written messages. Don’t risk it. Take it offline and speak with the customer directly.
It would be impossible to cover every detail and every possible tip to social media in one article. Hopefully these few tips help you to understand why it is important to have a digital presence and be on social media. These tips should get you well on your way to proper social media engagement so you get the most out of it for your business. I’ll go further in depth on social media as well as review sites in future posts so make sure you check back to learn more.
A Little Bit About My Blog:
I write about a vast array of topics related to marketing, public relations, business development and business management. Sometimes the topic is very focused and my blog addresses very specific challenges with specific answers. While other times my blogs take a wider view of a topic or theory and are intended to make the reader think on a macro-level as opposed to providing specific answers. It’s like the proverb says: “Feed a fish to a hungry person you’ve fed them for a day. Teach them to fish you feed them for life.” The goal is not to give you the answers but to help you solve the challenges of your business through critical thinking. Either way, I hope my blogs elicit a reaction, good or bad. If good, we can compare notes and share stories of success. If bad, we can have a good old fashion debate. May the best debater win.