By now, social media is surely part of your overall marketing plan. Engaging readers on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn or YouTube is crucial for you to connect with potential and existing clients at a scale that no ad, brochure or TV commercial can ever do.
The key to social media success is right in the name: Social.
If all you’re doing is posting ads, press releases and product announcements, you’re really not getting much in the way of ROI.
You may get eyeballs on your social media feed and increase your follower count, but it’s probably doing nothing for sales or your brand awareness. Social media is filled with people shouting about their products and services, so you need a way to stand out. The best way to do that is to use social media for what it was intended, a way for people to connect and be social. Consider that two-thirds of people view brands more favorably if they respond on social media and that customer brand advocacy increases by 25% if brands answer complaints publicly on social media.
Build relationships with your audience.
You don’t try to sell your company every time you meet for drinks with a friend, so don’t do it on social media. Engage in conversation. If a conversation isn’t there, start one by asking a question in your posts and invite your followers to answer. And respond. Every time.
Many companies make the mistake of deleting comments or avoid answering criticism. Instead, use it as an opportunity to not only respond or make good on that follower’s criticism, but show your other followers and potential followers that you listen and care about them. This includes the (hopefully infrequent) times when your only response is “sorry, we screwed up.”
Instead of trying to constantly educate your followers, try asking them for information and insight. Use your social media accounts for input on new product and service development. Ask for feedback on your existing services. Ask what your customers need, rather than making assumptions and only asking for input after the fact.
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And don’t be afraid that you’re “going off-brand” by posting about something that is only loosely tied to your particular business. For example, a large-scale landscape management company that caters to HOA board members can gain the respect of its existing followers and potential customers by posting the occasional tip for homeowners (who are most decidedly not their target customers) on what types of trees grow best in a particular region, or how to maintain them best. It shows that you care about your customer’s customers.
That said, it is important to have a consistent and authentic voice on social media. Think of your brand as similar to a person with a given, singular personality (as opposed to multiple personalities).
Engaging with your followers
Customer engagement has always been important to growing your business; social media hasn’t changed that fact, it has only changed one way to go about it. 25 years ago, one of the best ways to interact with a large client was meeting at a trade show or industry event. Social media is the exact same thing, only you can do it while sipping on an espresso without the need for plane tickets and hotel rooms.