Social media usage is growing bigger than ever all the time and the business world knows it. 85% of Fortune 100 companies were on Facebook in 2014 and 90% were using at least some form of social media. These companies received more than 10 million social mentions every month and it’s very obvious that the strategy has proven successful. But social media is not reserved for titans of industry. Small businesses can and should use social media to promote growth. The question, of course, is how to do it.
Knowing the Platforms
Every social media service has a specific area of strength that you can use to your business’s advantage. Facebook is a must in today’s world since it has the most users and sees more activity than any other social media service. However, it’s more a catch-all than a comprehensive strategy.
Ensuring the success of any social media campaign means branching out into and identifying a variety of services to help meet your target market needs. LinkedIn, for example, can build a more professional business public image than Facebook could. Twitter keeps you wired into conversations about your business in real time and offers opportunities for your content to be redistributed in a way Facebook does not. If you want to emphasize SEO, Google+ is the easiest way to rack up valuable +1s and push your website to the forefront of search engines. The bottom line is this: Facebook is a must, and the others should be used to put a finer focus on your marketing.
Providing Good Content
Social media can provide a boost to your bottom line. But if you want to connect with your market in an effective, meaningful way, it is the content that is the key. Sales pitches, while easy to produce, tend to go against the original spirit of social media, which is not to sell, but to connect. Content too heavy in sales can discourage people from continuing to follow you, so instead, you want to use the 3 E’s to your advantage — Educate, Entertain, and Engage.
Your content should strive to fulfill all of these requirements. That’s a tall order, so more often than not, the best option for a small business is subscribing to an expert content service that will provide you with professionally produced materials relevant to your field.
Note the difference between “consistently” and “incessantly.” Your content does not have to be overwhelming, and in fact, it should not be. That said, customers & clients should be able to rely on fresh content from your social media platform at regular intervals. Not only does this live up to consumer expectations; the organization makes your Web presence appear more uniform, authoritative, and professional.
This is simultaneously the most intuitive and the trickiest skill in using social media effectively. Social media is a two-way street; just as you hope your customers will interact with you, they will expect you to do the same. This is particularly true when someone takes time out of his or her day to discuss your business online. Whether the reviews are positive or negative, respond with thankfulness for their initiative, and whatever you do, do not lash out in self-defense. An appropriate, friendly response lets your followers see that you are doing your best to make sure all your patients have a satisfactory experience.
And the Most Important Lesson of All…
Your eggs should never be confined to one basket. If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a full platform of online efforts to harness the power of social media. Study up, pinpoint your needs, and do not be afraid to ask for help when you need it.