Janet is a savvy small business owner. She successfully navigated her way through the recession and is enjoying steady growth. She’s well-versed on her clientele and knows their individual likes and dislikes. She knows who her competition is and what they’re up to. She keeps up with trends, so she has a Facebook profile and a Twitter handle. So, why has she seen a marked increase in the growth of her competitors’ business and not her own? When she hears people speak of her product, why do they associate it with her competition? What can Janet do to make sure her company is foremost in her customer’s minds?
Regardless of the size of your company, or your position within its ranks, you know how important it is these days to be established on social media, spending ample time actively engaging your client-base. When it comes to social media, most companies are online networking when they need to be social media marketing. The same principles apply to marketing your company on the Web as they do in print — frequency and repetition are imperative. You need to be in front of your target audience again and again on multiple platforms to build top of mind awareness. Here are some areas to concentrate on while building your social media marketing strategy.
1. Avoid the Field of Dreams fallacy.
You have a firm presence on a variety of social media platforms and have carved out a stout digital footprint? Terrific – now, are you taking time out regularly to engage your client-base? Despite the optimistic ‘if you build it, they will come’ mentality, creating social media outlets without frequent, active participation is like fashioning a clipper ship without a mast or sails. In order for your efforts to produce a spike in business or revenue, you need to get into the trenches with your clients. Use ‘@’ replies on Twitter to demonstrate light-speed customer service; post valuable, thought-provoking status updates on Facebook and participate in the conversations that unfold. Never underestimate the value your customers place on actively engaging their questions, concerns and compliments.
2. Market, don’t network.
A critical misstep many business owners make when launching a social media campaign is immediately adding or following everyone they know. While inflated friend statistics may serve to massage your ego, they do little to promote your business or cause. Instead, you should be participating in social media marketing. Priority one should be positioning yourself in front of your customers to generate online traction and expand your reach. Social networking should be confined to your personal profiles, where you’re free to follow your neighbors, and their Great Dane named Pickles, should you choose. Limit your interactions on your company profiles to providing useful content and information to those who frequent your establishment, and restrict any exchanges with colleagues, friends and family to your personal profile.
3. ROR trumps ROI.
Make no mistake — the endgame in a social media marketing campaign is to turn a profit; but many new adopters often fail to utilize the interactive aspect of their online presence. The immediate value of websites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are the relationships you build along the way, and an appropriate measure for this is ROR, or Return on Relationships. Any owner of a Mom and Pop corner store that has enjoyed decades of success can tell you that the reason they have remained in business is because of the friendships and rapport they’ve developed with their clientele. Product loyalty stems from strong relationships, and this is the inherent payoff that social media marketing provides. Stop framing your online success in an immediate monetary return, and instead, view your success in a long-term mindset, where you’re crafting long-standing, profitable connections.
4. On the run? Go mobile!
Businessmen and women are highly aware of the hectic travel schedules and deadlines that accompany their chosen profession. The bad news: in a society that increasingly revolves around the Internet, being ‘too busy’ for social media is no longer an excuse to let your platforms lay dormant. Thankfully, software developers recognize the needs of an ‘on the go’ culture, and have created apps that allow users to access and update their social media cache while heading to a meeting or waiting for a flight. Utilize “check-ins” on Facebook when entering an annual conference or leadership seminar to let your followers know what you’re up to. Snap a few pictures and upload them to your Instagram feed — just ensure there is no lull in your Internet activity when things get busy.
Now armed with a practical and effective understanding of social media marketing, Janet is well-equipped to best her competition online and ensure that her product is associated with her business. By streamlining her digital footprint to only encompass her customers and potential clients, and dedicating a bit of her daily activities to interacting with her followers, she has realized the full-potential of social media and will enjoy the return on relationships that her web-presence provides. Follow Janet’s example and become engaged with your customers online.