More and more businesses are turning to social media channels, including Twitter and Facebook, to attract sales, engage with customers and build brand awareness. However what businesses must remember is that by signing up to these networks you are making a commitment to be social, to interact and to engage. You will need time and effort, in addition to a strategy and a plan, to successfully achieve your end goal.
Here are some tips to help make your social network work for you.
1. Choose your network wisely
Before setting up a profile you should research the network. Spend time finding out: who is using it; why they are using it; and how they are using it. You could have a presence on a single social network or multiple social networks. Your decision should always be based on some form of research.
2. Plan, plan, plan
Develop a plan for how you intend to use social networking. This should include who will be responsible for managing the network. Will this be one individual within your business or a team of people? Think about how often you will post content and what type of information you will share.
3. Measure performance
As with any business activity it’s important to evaluate your performance to know how you can improve. How social media success is measured can vary from business to business and depends on the target you set, but could include:
- increased sales
- improved customer service - eg reduced waiting times for assistance, complaints, or reasons customers have complained
- increased website traffic
- customer engagement with your account - eg on Twitter you could measure how many retweets and interactions you receive
4. Let others know
You can raise awareness of your social network by including links to your account in email signatures, on business cards, on invoices and even on your company website. Many businesses also highlight their social media sites on printed literature and marketing materials.
5. Look professional
Most social networks allow you to personalise your business profile. This may include the addition of a picture and company details. Your profile on social networks is an extension of your brand. Give thought to any images you use, and if necessary get help from a graphic designer. Ensure your company details are error-free. Write a description that effectively communicates your business message.
6. Add value for your customers
Added value will grow your network no matter what channel you choose. This could include things like running competitions exclusive to social media, offering discounts or sharing specialist advice or information relating to your industry.
7. Be consistent
If you commit to having a social network be consistent with your use of it. In most cases it’s not good enough to post a comment one day and follow this up with a long period of inactivity. Social media is a communications platform and should be regularly updated in keeping with the etiquette for the particular network.
8. Find out what works for you
When you use social media you will notice trends in what works in terms of engaging with your community. It could be types of posts, times of posts, tone of posts or all of the above. Identify what works best for you or for those in your industry - develop your own strategy for using your social networks.
Social media is continually evolving, new networks are appearing and new functionality is being introduced to networks. Adapt to changes and experiment with them to see how they can benefit your business.
9. Different networks need different content
It might save time to update all your networks with the same content but remember that people could be engaged with you across all of your social networks. Some customers could get frustrated at seeing the same message on each network. Each social network is different, so the message you send out through each should vary (even if only ever so slightly).
10. Communicate with staff
Make your staff aware of your social media presence and communicate with them on how each network is intended to be used to benefit the business.
Your employees are brand ambassadors and are often the people dealing with customers. It’s important that such staff are aware of what social networks you are on. You should also highlight what customers may expect from their engagement with your business through these networks.