It isn’t uncommon for me to cruise the pages of Facebook or Twitter with my morning coffee. Not only do I learn more about my “audience” this way, but it gives me an opportunity to gather fodder for articles or postings throughout the day, based on trends in social media. No matter what your business, owners have to have a social media marketing strategy in place if they want to survive a struggling economy. It’s an ultra-competitive world out there; businesses have to capture the attention of new business, encourage repeat business and work on referrals all in one swoop and there is no better way to accomplish this than using social media to your advantage. No matter how you feel about social media personally, it has revolutionized the way people communicate, and the way marketing is handled.
You Need a Business Page
Right now, the ‘new’ kids on the block are Facebook and Twitter; these are the social media heavy hitters. Of course, the next best thing could phase out these now giants, but (as it stands) they have built the modern-day social media platform that most other websites would likely duplicate. In a post-Myspace world, you need to have a dedicated business page for your business on Facebook and a business Twitter account; at least for now. A big mistake I see small business owners or entrepreneurs make is using their personal page for business promotion. While I will never fault someone for using their personal page to promote their business from time to time, this is not the best way to handle social media marketing –I say this after a trial by fire of my very own.
You Need Feedback…Instantly
Instant feedback is both a blessing and curse. No matter how good or bad your customer’s experience is with you, they are likely to post it on their social network; perhaps even post it on your fan page or Twitter. It’s a no-brainer to say that good feedback is helpful to your business and bad feedback potentially harmful, however; it all comes down to how you handle it. Even the worst possible feedback can result in a positive outcome when you address it quickly and professionally. People do business with people that they trust, and excellent conflict resolution plays a big role here. Be prepared to deal with the good and the not so good.
People love to express their opinions. Ask someone what they think about “Widget A” and they will tell you. I use my business pages to my advantage here. At least once per day, I post a relevant and pertinent question for my followers to answer. They love it, and it applies to any type of business. For example, if your business sells cakes, ask your customers about their favorite flavor combinations or if they are “cake” people or “frosting” people. If you are selling a service, ask your customers about their last experience with a similar service. Basically, your goal here is to create a ‘call to action’. If you post it, they will come.
Deals, Deals and more Deals
People love deals and they love to feel special. They also love to share deals with friends. I post exclusive deals to my Facebook and Twitter pages at least once per week. I stay in front of my target audience and they do the promoting for me. It isn’t uncommon for me to post a “deal” or nifty tidbit and come back to find that I have been fanned by 10 or 12 new people in the last hour. Think “deals and discounts” and let your customers help you with your marketing. The options are endless and easily customized. Offer a discount for “checking in” at a location or a “daily deal” that only your social networking followers receive.
Blog Your Way to More Fans
People love reading blogs, especially if they offer up some interesting bit of information about the business, service or anything related to it. Link your corporate blog to your social media pages, and watch your audience interact with you more often. I post at least three times per week for each of my three websites, but one post a week will work as a start.
It’s a world where your audience is fast forwarding television commercials, they aren’t listening to radio ads when they can opt for their iPods, and they aren’t surfing the web seeking you out. You have to find your audience where they are: and where they are is social media.