There’s no denying “social media marketing” are the buzz words of twenty thirteen. Social media has changed the way small businesses communicate with customers and market their products and services – it allows businesses to interact with customers in a more personal way to build customer relationships.
Many small businesses think they can whip up a Facebook page and sales with soar. Unfortunately that's not quite true. Social media should be carefully planned with a focus on building relationships rather than blasting customers with marketing messages and sales pitches to build trust and customer loyalty.
You might also think your business needs to push every App button out there: Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, Google+, Pinterest, Tumblr, Flickr … the list goes on. Also not true. So what is the best way forward? Here are my top tips:
1. Plan Your Social Media Marketing Strategy
Create a clear plan and stick to it. Outline your goals and objectives. Of course you can use social media for ad-hoc promotion but real success comes when you have a clear plan and implement it consistently to build customer loyalty. Your strategy should be S.M.A.R.T. – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timed.
2. Find Your Customers
Start with your existing customers. Find out what social sites they frequent and get value from and focus your energies there. You might think most interest will come from Facebook and Twitter, but your customers might favour forums and blogs.
3. Schedule Social Time
Small business owners need to understand that using social media for marketing is a time-consuming task due to the need for it to be consistent, frequent and monitored. Many small businesses are finding it more cost effective and productive to use a Social Media Marketing Agency [like Sharpe Design Solutions of course!] thus allowing them to focus on the day-to-day operation of their business.
4. Create Content
The kind of content you create is determined by the goals you determined in your strategy. If you’re looking to attract new customers, position yourself as an expert in your field. Find out what forums your customers are on and join – offer answers to questions and solutions to problems. Help your prospects solve their business problems by becoming a trusted resource by way of your own blog post, webinar or eBook.
Are you looking to streamline customer service and reduce costs? You can publish social FAQs as blog posts or post tutorial videos via a YouTube link.
5. Be Honest and Human
People are more likely to create relationships with other people more so than with businesses. So when creating content for your social media strategy, use a "human" voice -- not a corporate presence -- to connect in social spaces.
Show customers that you are a "reliable friend" – stay active and participate in all conversations related to your company or area of expertise. If you see new questions or comments, be sure to answer immediately. A great way to "be social" is by asking questions back to the customers to keep the conversation going.
7. Add Value
People need to find value in their interactions to stay connected. Don’t make your social network just about sales and specials, but there’s nothing wrong with making your fans and friends feel special with a an offer just for them. Remember; promotions are an instant call-to-action, and while you may have short term success it doesn't mean you will attract quality social customers. Instead of one-off deals or coupons you can try a rewards program where only your best social customers qualify for the reward.
There are so many more tips and experiences for me to share, so stay posted! Until then, feel free to browse my website: www.sharpedesignsolutions.com.au and get social with me and "LIKE" my Facebook page.
Author: Jody Sharpe, Sharpe Design Solutions
Jody Sharpe has over 20 years experience in marketing & branding and is passionate about helping local small businesses grow.