Social media: the holy grail of customer engagement, viral marketing, word of mouth referrals and free traffic. The online land of opportunity that will have customers breaking down your door. All you have to do is send some friends requests, post some cat videos and sprinkle in some witty status updates right? Wrong! If it were that easy, we’d all be sitting pretty and drinking out of coconuts on a beach somewhere.
Just like any other online marketing strategy, success on social media takes work but it’s not hard. Social media is chock full of opportunities for small businesses. The problem is that most small business owners don’t know how to take advantage of them, so they fall into the bad habits of ignoring social media altogether or haphazardly managing their accounts only to get nowhere fast.
The small businesses that get it right and make social media work for them use a distinct strategy that combines their knowledge of their customers with creativity, regular communication, engagement and time.
Now, how much of each ingredient will equal a winning strategy for your business is up to your specific business’s needs. But by combining these five components, any and every business can turn their social media accounts into profit generating, loyalty building, customer service centers that will add value to their brands for years to come.
So, how can you tap into the opportunities of social media and create your own recipe for success?
1. Know your customer and target only them
Without this crucial step you’ll be dead the water when it comes to social media. Think about it, how can you possibly have a meaningful conversation with someone if you don’t know who you’re talking to? Or worse, you might know your customer through and through, be saying all the right things, but unintentionally saying it to the wrong audience and it’s falling flat. So understand your customers and be laser focused on your audience. Social networks like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram aren’t shy about gathering data on their users and you’ll be able to use that to your advantage. Demographic targeting is something that social networks do incredibly well. You will have no problem finding the exact right audience for your message.
2. Be creative
You can do a lot more on social media than just share posts and links. You can create groups that will attract your target audience and add value to their experience without directly plugging your business. This is the strategy that a small law firm employed and turned their failing Facebook account into a thriving group of potential clients. The law firm set up a Facebook group that focused on victims of a specific faulty medical implant. The law firm started the group, gave out information on the symptoms you need to look for in order to identify if you are a victim and gave advice on what the victims could do in order to be compensated for their injuries.
A key factor to this strategy’s success was that the law firm largely stayed out of the way and allowed the victims in the group to guide the conversation. The law firm would simply chime in and respond to questions that the group’s members had or whenever they saw an opportunity to add value to the conversation. But they specifically stayed away from hard selling or pitching this group on the legal services they could provide.
This hands off, value driven approach enabled the law firm to build trust and credibility with these victims and the law firm ended up representing a large portion of those victims in court generating significant revenues.
3. Post regularly
Consistency is key when it comes to any marketing strategy, but it’s especially important for a social media strategy. An increasing number of companies have been turning to social media as their main point of contact with their customers. Because of this trend, customers have come to expect businesses of all sizes to have an active presence on social media for customer service and issue resolution.
If you’re inconsistently maintaining your accounts, it could signal to your audience that you may not be reliable or that you may be unresponsive if they have an issue that needs resolving.
Set aside a regular time to update your posts, respond to comments, resolve issues or share value. One local dentist made the decision to start a weekly Q&A session on Twitter. Her followers could ask her anything dental related and she would answer it for them. This created a wonderful back and forth interaction where she was giving tremendous value to her followers, setting herself apart as both knowledgeable and generous and created an excuse to appear in her audience’s timeline on a regular basis. She saw a marked increase in her appointments and referrals and generated positive word of mouth on Twitter.
4. Engage, engage, engage
Social media should be a conversation, not a one sided stream of information. Too often businesses focus solely on what they’re sending out from their accounts while ignoring the conversations that their customers are having and not responding to comments. If you take a more proactive approach to the interactions that you have with your customers, they’ll take notice.
Do a search for your Facebook name or Twitter handle and see who’s talking about you, what they’re saying and how you can join that conversation.
If the conversations around your brand are good, you’ll be able to thank your customers for the shout out and make them feel appreciated. If the conversations around your brand are negative, that can sometimes be even better. It gives you an opportunity to publicly address and resolve a customer issue. This shows your unhappy customer that you care about their needs, are being proactive and providing good customer service. But, even more importantly, anyone who stumbles upon that interaction will see your brand at its best instead of your brand’s identity being dictated by your disgruntled customers.
5. Take your time
You won’t get all of your likes in one day and you shouldn’t try to. The best strategy will be one that develops over time and evolves with your audience’s needs and your business’s goals. Just like anything else, the more you do it the better you’ll get.
This formula isn’t an instant fix or a silver bullet that will solve all of your social media woes. But, if you to stick to it, this formula will keep you relevant on any platform, for years to come. No matter what features, platforms or algorithms come and go, your business will always have a way to tap into your audience and create a following of loyal customers that will defend your brand and look forward to interacting with you.
Learn Online Marketing with Lori Ballen at www.LoriBallen.com – creator of The Ballen Method
Top Reads of 2015:
RECENT BLOG POSTS BY LORI BALLEN
- 7 Marketing Books Published in 2015 to Add to your Reading List
- Keep the Visitor on your Website by building in More Local Information
- Get Seller Real Estate Leads using These Keywords
- SEO Keywords and Their Importance to Website Optimization
- A/b Split Tests: the Online Marketing Tool kit for Increasing Ctr
- SEO Tips – SEO Images
- What are Google Dorks? Not what you think and YOU need to know about them!
- Real Estate Agents are earning LESS than $40,000 a year…
- Google Update: Two Main Content Penalties and How to Reverse Them
- How To Use LeadPages | Lead Boxes and Landing Pages
- Should I rebrand my website? Will renaming my site hurt my Search rankings?
- How to Build Trust, Authority, and High Conversion Rates for your Website
- Drop in Website Traffic? Maybe you were visited by the Phantom!
- Why write Hyperlocal Content that has Nothing to Do With Your Business
- Rank First in Google Searches Using SEO
- How to use CLICKY to find the SOURCE of a lead using an IP Address
- Must Listen to Interview by Lori Ballen featuring Jaime Corona of Katy, Texas.
- What I learned with Lori Ballen, by Meagan and Tracie Diemert of Marysville Washington
- The Best Task Manager and Project Management Software
- How to use Listings To Leads to optimize Single Property Sites and Blogs
- Get Your Real Estate Leads Back
- Breaking News – Keller Williams has the most top producing teams in the RealTrends top 1000.
- How to create and publish one piece of content that gives you back traffic and leads for years:
- Must Watch Videos from Behind The Brand and Hubspot regarding Social, Search and Online Marketing
- Sugar, Spice, and Community Input: The Ingredients of a Great Hyper-Local Blog
- 10 Easy Ways to Improve Your Blog Speed
- My father left when I was a baby….
- “I do it for the Garlic Knots”
- Facebook Pages or Facebook Groups?
- What is remarketing, and how does it work?
- A Seller’s Guide to Negotiations and Counter Offers when Selling a House
- Get Your Leads Back, the Full Course on Manually marketing your listings for more leads!
- What is Google Inbox?
- Digital Marketing Strategist Lori Ballen Brings The Ballen Method to Timonium MD
- Born Sad
- Lori Ballen, a Las Vegas Real Estate Agent Business Owner works The Vistas, a Summerlin Village
- Things You Wish You Would Have Learned in Real Estate School – a Webinar
- What is the difference between a Blog Post and a Blog Page?
- Using Video in Website Marketing | Self Hosting to Video Sharing Sites
- Lori Ballen presents her 4 hour Online Marketing, Search and Social Class in a Live Stream to guests at Home
- The 2015 SEO Report – Getting Your Website to Appear High On The Search Engines In a Very Competitive World
- How Do I Market to FSBO (For Sale By Owners) for Listings
- How Do I market to a neighborhood with No Solicitation Rules?
- What ideas do you all have for me taking over A neighborhood? Farming for Realtors®
- What are the 10 days of Pain in Real Estate?
- Internet Marketing Coaching, Training and Products with Lori Ballen
- There is no shame is tapping the brakes.
- Books suggested by Realtors® for Realtors®
- In 2015, the KEY to generating internet leads is content
- The Ultimate 14-Part Guide to Getting More YouTube Views
- This Week in Real Estate with The Ballen Network
- Great Ted Talks on Leadership
- What is the BEST lesson you have learned in real estate so far in your career?
- Great Ted Talks for Business and Marketing
- Is Buying Backlink Packages, Facebook Likes, YouTube Views, and Twitter Followers Worth It?
- Let’s Connect for Real Estate Referrals
- WordPress For Real Estate, a Beginners Guide
- Hey Real Estate Agent, What will it take to rise above the noise on the internet In 2015?
- Learn with Lori, Live – Each Monday, Internet Marketing Training Series
- I am Worth it.. by Tabitha W. age 12
- What Is The Ballen Method? SEO for Real Estate Agents, Social for Real Estate Agents
- 7 Steps on How to Create a Page One Ranking Blog Post
- Your Website is now Responsive, but are your Videos?
- How To Build A Real Estate Team
- How to Add an Anchor Link to your Post or Page
- How to use WordPress Breadcrumbs
- 7 Bits Of Wisdom For Launching A Successful Real Estate Career
- Ben Kinney Webinars
- How Often Should I Blog?
- How to Create A Great Real Estate Website
- The Ballen Bundle March Madness Internet Marketing Training Series Special
- Looking for how to Google Yourself?
- How to Market Listings Using WP Listings
- What Domain should I Register?
- I know what you did…
- I was 213 pounds.
- Get your Leads Back! Manually Market Your Listings!!!
- Buy and Sell on Social Media – Facebook’s New For Sale Groups Feature