Do you want/have a social media presence but don’t know where to start? Well you are not alone. Recent studies have shown that many businesses are still sceptical of and not using social media with many answers they give as to why coming up time and again. From ‘why is it important for my business?’ To ‘how do I know what platforms to be on?’ It seems many are still not using social media due to lack of knowledge, which is unfortunate as it means they are missing out on a wealth of benefits for their business. Below is a common set of questions that I have been asked and ones I have seen come up on social media networks many times.
Question 1: Why is Social Media Important for my Business?
Answer – There are so many reasons why using social media has now become an essential element to your business. From forming new relationships with customers to driving sales, social media has become an integral part of many businesses marketing strategies and to not have a presence puts you at disadvantage. An earlier Blog I wrote explores the benefits of social media and why you need it for your business and you can find it here http://bit.ly/18tTVPs. But it can be summarised as follows;
- Social Media is Everywhere and Very Popular
- Social Media Sites are Free
- Join an Existing Conversation
- Social Media is Great for Customer Service
- It Helps People Learn More About Your Business
- It Can Make a Big Difference for Your Email Marketing
- Driving Traffic and Improving Google Rankings
Question 2: How do I know which Platforms my Business Should be on?
Answer – From Facebook, to Foursquare to Google+, when you first look at forming a social media presence it can be overwhelming to know where to invest your time and efforts. For small businesses without an already established brand, little time or money, it can also prove a costly mistake if your online presence isn’t aligned with your business objectives and not serving you correctly. The key to being successful on social media is to not spread yourself thinly over lots of social media platforms, but rather, choose certain social platforms that have the most relevant audience, positioning and strategy for your business.
In order to know what platforms are best for your business you need to ask these questions;
- Is the social media platform the one where your customers and competitors are active?
- How many users are there? Do the users fit your target profile?
- Does it host the most appropriate media type?
- What do you aim to achieve with the platform? Is it SEO, customer engagement etc.
- What skills do you need to maximise it? E.g. Video creation skills for YouTube
Question 3: What Should I be Posting on Social Media and How Often?
Answer – In general posts are used on social media for two gains; engagement and self-promotion. Posts centred on engagement are those that encourage conversation and interaction from your audience. This can range from asking questions, sharing stories, solving consumer problems to telling jokes and humour, but they all have the same goal of getting your audience engaged with you. Self-promotion posts are exactly that, posting to directly self-promote your business. This can range from sharing with your audience all the services you offer or simply stating how wonderful you are, either way you are using them to directly advertise to your audience. One of the key takeaways is to understand that self-promotion posts should not take precedence over your engagement posts, rather you should focus most of your time on encouraging and creating engagement with consistently good content that offers something valuable, useful and targets your audiences’ needs.
How often you should be posting is different for everyone, for example those that want to become a cutting edge news resource will post more frequently than those with longer more detailed articles to share. What is important for being successful is that you make a posting schedule and stick to it. Scheduling is not only important for your audience; it’s also needed to help keep yourself on track. If you know that you have set a goal to post twice a week for example, then you will make sure to get it done. If you don’t have a schedule then it is easier to put of the work and neglect your platform and it will not become a successful addition to your social media presence. Ultimately how often you upload will vary depending on what works best for your company, goals and audience so it is important to experiment to find a posting schedule that works for you. So the first step to determining your ideal posting frequency is to find the perfect balance between what you want are capable of and what your audience wants.
Question 4: How do I get People to like my Page?
Answer – There are many ways to encourage people to like your page, from creating sharable content, to running competitions and cross promoting on your other platforms, once you know where to focus your efforts you will find that your page will start to gain in momentum. A previous blog post explored how to build up a following and keep them engaged and you can find it here http://bit.ly/15CK99u. To summarise, here are several ways to help encourage people to like your page;
- Use Your Fans to get More Fans– Create posts that encourage your fans to share it with their friends. A common method is to announce that you’ll offer a discount or some other benefit to everyone who shares your offer, but only if you get certain total number of shares or likes. Offer your customers a reward if they mention your business — a discount, free trial, or extra service, whatever is relevant for your business.
- Promote your Facebook Page – Anywhere your customers interact with your brand is an opportunity to encourage them to follow you on Facebook.
- Reward Your Loyal Supporters- Encourage your loyal customers to join your Facebook page as supporters, and reward them with special deals for consistent support.
- Use Tagging and Acknowledgments- Tagging an author or a popular Facebook page in your post is a great networking tool that can drive new connections.
- Get talking – Central to building your audience is interaction and creating conversation. Asking questions is one of the best ways to get conversational on Facebook, but just as important is to participate in other people’s conversations and provide information to them that they will find engaging, relevant and useful.
- Exclusive Facebook Content – Posting exclusive content that is only accessible via your Facebook page and nowhere else is a great way of drawing customers to your page.
Question 5: How will I Know if What I’m Doing on Social Media is Working?
Answer – Like any other marketing strategy, the success of your social media presence must be measured against your business objectives. Whether you want to use social media to improve brand awareness or as a new outlet to interact with customers, having well-defined objectives makes it clearer for you in what to measure for your return on investment. Looking at the platforms metrics will show you a wealth of information and insights and help determine whether your platform is having a measurable impact and whether the data is reflective of the overall goals of your business. It is also worth noting that return on investment with social media marketing cannot always be measured in money. Whilst it can drive sales, the real power of social media marketing is in building relationships with customers.
As a very quick guide, below are several platforms and their metrics to track however this is by no means an exhaustive list, therefore it is well worth reading and finding a lot more information about what metrics you should be tracking for your platforms.
- Blog- Reach, Engagement, Authority and Conversion.
- Facebook – Reach, Engagement, Negative Feedback, Conversion.
- Twitter – Follower Growth, Follower Quality and Engagement, Conversion.
- LinkedIn – Profile Views, Network Size, New Invitations, Level of Interactions, Number of Recommendations.
- YouTube – Views (although not to be solely relied on), Significant Discovery Events, Ratings Comments and Favourites, Audience Retention.
- Google + – Google+ Ripples, Engagement, +1’s of Content, Traffic and Conversion.
- Pinterest – Repins from Website, Reach, Number of Visitors and Visits to your Website, Most Repinned Content.
Question 6: How Can I get People to Interact with me on my Platforms?
Answer – Simply put, to receive interaction from your audience you need to actively encourage it with the content that you post. Every post should have a clearly defined topic as well as delivering something valuable to the reader, whether that be entertainment or information. Central to being effective is also realising that interaction and conversation is a two-way process so you also need to listen to what people are saying to you and about you and respond to them accordingly.
Here are several types of content that are known for encouraging interaction;
- Posting Photos
- Fill in the Blanks
- Asking Questions
- Sharing Tips
- Posts that offer a Promotion or Discount
Question 7: How do I stop People from Leaving Negative Comments and What do I do if they Leave Them?
Answer – The fact that customer service through social media is quickly becoming an expectation of consumers means you’re publicly open to both criticism and praise online. Unfortunately you cannot really stop people from leaving negative comments, whether they have genuinely had a bad experience or are simply trolling, what is vital is that you watch for any negative things that are being said about you and respond quickly and accordingly. Rather than simply deleting any negative comments you receive, as even the most universally loved businesses receive negative comments, view them as an opportunity to win over a customer offering help, guidance or even acknowledging where something went wrong. By dealing with negativity in an open and authentic way you can help build rapport and trust with your customers.