While increasing numbers of Australian businesses are using social media as a promotional tool, they are still lagging well behind their customers in engagement rates.
The 2015 Sensis Social Media Report shows that while 50% of consumers now access social media every day – rising to 79% for the 18-29 age group – only 31% of SME businesses in Australia actively operate a social media strategy.
While Facebook stands out as the preferred platform for SMEs, the report shows increasing growth in Instagram, Snapchat and LinkedIn.
Of crucial importance to business, the report also shows increased social media activity away from home in the workplace, in transit and in restaurants and cafés – perfect opportunities to capture customers’ attention.
If you’re unsure where to start, let’s look at some important points to consider when branching out into social media.
- Do your homework
It’s important to research how your customers spend their time on social media and their channels of choice. A Facebook page is a minimum requirement, but you don’t have to use every other channel available if your target market doesn’t spend much time there.
Choose a platform to focus on that makes sense for you and pleases your customers – Pinterest, Instagram and LinkedIn are all increasing in popularity. It’s better to use a couple well rather than five badly.
- Start small and don’t get discouraged
It can take some time before your Facebook page really begins firing. At the start, you might just feel that you’re talking to yourself!
Trawl around the social media channels and see how your competitors are promoting their businesses and engaging with their audiences. See which posts get the most attention and shares. It’s all a learning process, and it doesn’t happen overnight. Like anything, you improve with practice.
- Be consistent
Stop-start doesn’t work in social media. Those who attract the most loyal followers are posting every day with interesting content. It’s no good feeding a little here and a little there – show that you’re serious about connecting with your audience.
- Follow up
If someone connects with you on LinkedIn, make sure you give a polite reply and ask if there’s any way you can help them. If someone comments on your Facebook page, always respond and keep productive conversations going.
- Encourage feedback
Pages such as Yelp, UrbanSpoon and Google can be used to encourage user reviews of your products or services. It’s vital to know what your customers are saying about you – especially if it’s bad.
See bad reviews as a way of improving your own customer service, and a chance to win back dissatisfied customers. By starting an open conversation with them, you might be able to win them round or at least stop them bad-mouthing you to others.
- Accentuate the positive
Don’t tell your followers that business is dreadful, nobody loves you and your cat has died. Be upbeat and give customers a reason to follow you.
Be respectful of your competition and never post negative comments about others. Turn your problems into useful social media content – once you’ve solved them, present them as learning experiences for your followers.
- Avoid sell, sell, sell
Please, no blatant self-promotion. Audiences hate being spruiked to and quickly see through clumsy attempts to part them from their money.
Add real value to your brand by respecting your audience and presenting them with useful, relevant information they can use in their daily lives. Share case studies or write a blog that you can promote on your social media channels.
- Keep the conversation going offline
Grab a snappy phone word to work in tandem with social media in promoting your business. Choose a top telecommunications company like Zintel, add a chosen phone word to your 1300, 1800 or 13 number, and you’re away. Phone words boost your brand and are easily shared on social media channels.
If you’re prepared to do some research and put the time into building your social media presence, social media is a great way to promote your business in a rapidly changing marketplace.