If I Am Alone at a Computer, Why Do They Call It “Social Media?”

iStock_000008720726Medium-1If you don’t know Twitter from Instagram from Facebook to Dig, then reading this the next couple of minutes is worth your time. As a small business owner, social media can feel overwhelming. Not that long ago, many looked at these social media sites as fun or sometimes even a waste of time.
Now, however, smart marketers know they must be in the digital space or die. Remember, the conversation on social happens with or without you so to take advantage of social media and sometimes protect your brand or reputation, you must understand it.

So what are the best methods to market your small business using social media?

1. No Plan Is A Plan To Fail! Too often people put up a Facebook page or start tweeting without thinking about how these tactics can help their business. Doing social media well requires committing both dollars and people to the effort. Nothing will turn off a customer more than old, outdated posts and skimpy content. In fact, “going dark” for too long can cost you followers. Remember, just think that followers = customers. Your posts and their frequency reflects your brand and business Social media is an investment and needs to be prioritized to get maximum benefit.

2. Know Your Target Audience:  Then, you can choose a corresponding social media platform. If you’re trying to reach teens or tweens, then SnapChat might be the right way to go. If you’re trying to reach their mothers then Pinterest would be a better choice. The beauty is the macros or tools you can use to actually post when your audiences want to see it most. Are most of your customers in different locales or time zones? Then schedule updates for the times they’ll check their feeds. Keep it simple to start by picking one platform and doing it well. You can always add others as you gain experience.

3. Try to Only Sell and You Will Fail: Instead of giving the one-sided sales pitch aim for engagement. Getting customers to like/share your content is really important. Social media is a way for your customers to get to know what you and your company value and are passionate about. Be honest, authentic and try and share worthy posts.

4. It’s Not About Location – But Its Close: Think content, content, and more content! Keep your content fresh and current. Blogging is a great place to start to build traffic and loyalty. As a small business owner you are the expert in your category. Customers want to know your opinions and what you want have to offer if it is meaningful. This doesn’t mean that you neglect running the brand to become a writer. One great way to build up your content is to repost or share other’s content. The vogue term today is “curated content”.

5. Know the difference: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or name your favorite platform but all are very different in their goals, communications and audiences. Think of it as this. In the past, your showcase was a brochure and you used telemarketing, direct mail or advertising to get them to enter your store or receive your catalog. Today, your website is the destination. If your social media does its job, your prospects will end up on your website to learn more or make a purchase. You’ll want to have a website up and running before you start your social media activities, so you have a site to point to from your social media channels. It doesn’t have to be perfect out of the gate. To make it easy, think of this strategy. Use Twitter to direct customers to either Facebook or your website. Use Facebook to engage, educate and ultimately get a prospect to take action. Use your website to educate and make a purchase. There are multiples but understand what each channel can do for you.

6. Customers Want Answers – NOW! If a customer makes a comment (positive or negative) get back to them right away. Ensure they know you are listening and responsive. This can turn a negative into a positive quickly. Demonstrating empathy for your customer may not change their mind, but will win you kudos with other readers. Listening and responding to social media requires effort, time and thoughtfulness — another reason to start slowly and build into more platforms over time.

7. Artwork Enhances Readership. Post pictures that demonstrate your product’s benefits. Video is even better — videos have twice the engagement as photos on Instagram. In fact, video will gain 32% more opens on emails than ones who don’t have it. You can shoot a simple video with your smartphone that shows your product in use. Believe it or not, the fact this is not professional gives added credibility to the message or product attribute. Get your customers to like you and they’ll be more receptive to buying from you down the road. Share content that paints your worldview and bring your fans along for the ride.
8. Don’t be afraid to show your true colors. Make your social media channels and website a reflection of you and your brand so they feel real and are easy for you to update regularly. Speak in your own voice, but be careful to match the tone of your content to your business. If you are selling a medical product, then your content should be factual and your tone scientific. If you are selling a fitness product, then an energetic tone may be more appropriate. Whatever the case, always use your own customers on the site — both in visuals as well as testimonials.

8. Read. Listen. Act. Remember, it’s not about you, it’s about them! Mimic the language your customers use to talk about your field and engage with them on those terms. Use hashtags to join ongoing conversations on social media, and incorporate commonly used terms in your website to help customers find you through web searches. Customers will tell you what they like, don’t like and what they will pay for…if you let them.

Like it or not, you must be digital, social and savvy. Knowing the differences in how to use each emerging media platform will pay off in the end. Embracing it now and using it may mean the difference in your profit and ultimate loss. Remember, it’s social-you are not alone.

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