When jumping into the world of social media, most business owners have one intention in mind: sell, sell, sell…and for a good reason! The world of social media is a great place to reach out, to increase your market, and to develop relationships with new and existing customers. However, this is not the place for direct sales; to succeed in social media you must be authentic and provide value to the online community. Sometimes though, this is easier said than done; so here are five tips to help you succeed in social media.
1. Show off your expertise
There are two main reasons why people will pay attention to you on social media:
- They care about your company/service/product/industry; or
- They want to know more about your company/service/product/industry.
This is a great opportunity to indulge your potential clients’ interests by showing off your expertise about your product or service and the industry as a whole. Social media is about knowledge sharing and by doing just that you will help build trust in your company while showing others the value in your business. You will also be creating brand awareness.
2. Be the face of the business
You’ve started a business and built it up to what it is today; every aspect of the business is a reflection of you and your online profile is no different. People want to get to know the person responsible for the business, so having someone else tweeting and responding to Facebook posts on your behalf will only hurt your reputation. Your customers can tell if you’re not being authentic and representing your own beliefs and ideas.
3. Give and take
Most experts will suggest spending time observing social media before jumping right in; this will help you get to know the lay of the land so you understand what’s effective and what’s not before you start posting updates. But once you do start participating, it’s important to not just fire messages out there, but to manage a fine balance of give and take. You can do so by continually searching for conversations about your company and commenting on what they have to say, especially if it’s negative. Always respond as quickly as possible to questions or comments that are directed at you and your business. Be sure to search out loyal customers online and thank them for their patronage. And you can also reward your followers by offering discounts, or first access to a new product or service to those who follow your social media accounts.
4. Build a community
There is nothing that brings people together like a common goal, interest or cause, and social media is a fantastic way build that community. If you’re a photographer, start a LinkedIn Group to talk about specialized photography techniques and a Flickr account to share photos. If you own an event planning company, start a blog and post video clips while encouraging others to also share their event planning tips and videos of their successful parties. By using social media to bring together a group of people with common area of interest, you and your business will receive recognition while establishing yourself as a trusted source for information.
5. Once you start, don’t stop
Before jumping online and setting up a Twitter account or a Facebook page for your business, think very strategically about what you want to do with social media, if managing it is realistic, and whether the benefits will outweigh the time it will take up. Getting on social media is like a marriage, and you need to think about whether this is something you want to get into a relationship with long term. Customers can lose trust in your business if, down the road, you decide to close you account or if you get busy and just stop making updates , so make sure you are ready to commit.