Social media can be a great tool for finding and attracting new customers and engaging existing or former ones, but only if you know how to use it.
First of all, you need to figure out where your customers and potential customers are hanging out online. Overwhelmed by all the social media choices and not sure where to start? Read our article Small Business Social Media Tips for a primer on how to figure out which social media sites you should be focusing your energies on.
Once you’ve decided which social media platforms you want to use, you’ll need to start attracting followers.
Growing Your Social Media Fan Base:
Promote your social media on your website. I am always amazed by how many organizations miss this obvious step and have no buttons or links to their social media accounts anywhere on their website. Your social media buttons should be visible on every page of your website, either in the header, the footer or a sidebar. If you have printed materials (brochures, pamphlets, flyers) or email communications and newsletters, be sure to mention and link to your social media accounts on those as well.
Do you have a database of customers with email addresses? If so, you can immediately grow a social media audience of existing customers. Upload your list into Facebook or Twitter and find those customers and encourage them to follow you.
Use the “Invite” feature on Facebook. Want to know a really easy and free way to increase your Facebook fan base? Periodically login to your page and see who has “liked” your posts. If you click on the little blue thumbs-up icon below your post, you’ll see a list of everyone who liked it. Most of them will already be fans of your page but there will often be a few others who are not currently following your page, and next to their name, you will see an “Invite” button. Click it and they will be invited to like your page. Not all will respond to the invitation, but since they have already responded positively to something you posted, they will be more likely to follow you than the general Facebook audience.
Spend a little money. It’s getting tougher and tougher to reach people on social media without spending anything, especially on Facebook. If you’re prepared to spend a little bit, you can get a pretty good bang for your buck with Facebook Boosts and Facebook Ads, Twitter ads and so on. If you are starting from zero with no social media fans yet, there are all sorts of creative ways to target ads to your ideal audience by demographics, interests, income, fans of your competitors and more.
Using Social Media to Promote Your Business
Use social media to learn about your customers. Once you have a decent-sized fan base on social media, you can use it to learn quite a bit about your most loyal customers. The caveat here is that you need to be aware of the fact that your “fans” on social media may not be a truly representative sample of your best customers if for instance, you are a business that caters to seniors and they don’t tend to be active on social media. Still, social media pages have a variety of useful insights into the demographics, likes and dislikes of your customers and fans.
Use hashtags wisely. If you don’t understand what hashtags are about, they are simply a way to categorize social media posts. Let’s say you want to be included in a conversation about climate change. You might include the hashtags #climatechange and #globalwarming in your post. Then, people who are also interested in that topic can search for #climatechange and they will see all the topics recently posted that used that hashtag (including yours). It is a way to have your content seen by new customers and people who may be interested in the things that your organization is about.
You can make up your own hashtags, which is great for events or special initiatives. Encourage your fans to use the branded hashtag you’ve created (like #Cyclefest2020 or #SpringfieldHungerDrive), but it’s always best to make sure someone else isn’t using it for a different purpose so there isn’t any confusion. (Note: Hashtags are super important on Twitter, Instagram and others, but not so much on Facebook.)
Use trial and error. In the social media game, be sure to mix it up. Your fans will get bored and tune you out if you post the same kinds of content all the time, or if all you do is promote your products and services. Share articles that they might find informative and useful. Do a poll. Post some videos. Host a contest. Create compelling graphics. (Images of people and faces do better than pictures of objects or scenery.) Pay attention to what types of posts garner the most reactions and do more of those.
Set up a monthly content calendar. Many organizations don’t commit proper resources to their social media. Someone may post something once in a while, but there is no consistency. Determine a posting frequency that is achievable for your company or association. (A couple posts a week should be the minimum.) Set up a monthly or weekly schedule of what information will be shared. You can use apps like Buffer or Hootsuite to schedule out all your content to post to your various social media platforms at a later time so that you don’t have to be manually posting content every day.
Keep an eye on it! Just because you are using a scheduler doesn’t mean you can set it and forget it. People will use your social media to comment, ask questions and yes, occasionally to complain. View this as an opportunity. If you can address these issues publicly and show your company to be responsive and willing to make things right in the case of legitimate problems, you can build trust and confidence.
Consider outsourcing. If you don’t have anyone on staff to focus on social media, consider hiring a social media marketer. If you are a leader of a professional association, contact us at J & M Business Solutions to discuss how we can assist with social media marketing and many other facets of association management.