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Why some small businesses win on social media (and how yours can too)  

Why some small businesses win on social media (and how yours can too)  

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.

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2. Be creative

Man with Lightbulb creatively using social mediaYou 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.

Others have Read:  Using Social Media to Expand your Reach

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.

Here’s a tool you might enjoy for scheduled posting: Sprout Social

4. Engage, engage, engage

Man Using Social Networking Site On Laptop At HomeSocial 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.

Please Take a Look At:  How to Create a Perfectly Marketable Social Profile

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

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