Reaching your customers through social media is affordable, easy to do and builds stronger relationships with your customers. Over 75 percent of U.S. small businesses use social media to attract customers, increase sales and improve customer service.
With over 70 percent of U.S. adults having at least one social media account, targeting these customers and prospects can be an effective way to enhance your online marketing results. Here are some ideas to help you stand out from your competition and score big with social media strategies that connect with your followers and build brand loyalty.
Social media is a powerful force for small businesses. Over 2 billion people can be reached with Facebook business posts and advertising and with over 125 million daily users on Twitter and 1 billion active Instagram users, there are many opportunities to create effective social media campaigns. The key is to create posts that cut through the clutter and speak directly to your target audience. Here’s how.
Three of every four small businesses invest in social media and almost all of these companies plan on increasing their spending on social. While it takes little effort to create a message and post it on social media, the thinking behind it is critical to connecting with your customers and building a loyal brand following.
You should have specific reasons for every social media post and they should complement your marketing objectives. When creating a social media message, be clear, be concise and, if appropriate, include a call to action. Start a conversation with your followers and encourage interaction with your brand.
Choose a social media channel that will best reach your target audience. For example, if you are promoting a local event, you probably don’t need to reach a national audience. Many social media channels allow you to segment your audience and reach for maximum effectiveness and targeted exposure.
Plan ahead and create a content calendar to stay consistent with your posts. Monitor your social media analytics to see what times during the day and week attract the most attention from your followers and post your messages when they will have the most impact. Creating a schedule for your social messages will help you post with a well-defined purpose and allow you to gain more consistent results with less time and effort.
Synchronize your social posts with sales, company initiatives and marketing campaigns to maximize exposure. A consistent brand message across all social media and marketing channels helps your followers build stronger bonds with your business and engage with your brand.
Post consistently, but not so often that your messages lose impact. Post too frequently and you risk competing with yourself, oversaturating your social media channels and causing your followers to lose interest. If a message is posted too often, audience response declines. Over time, your research will indicate the best frequency and timing to reach your target audience.
When customers walk into your store and ask a question, you provide an immediate answer – that’s just good customer service. While it’s a bit harder to always be instantly responsive on social media, the same concept applies. Once you receive a response to a social post, be sure to acknowledge their comments or answer their questions within the same day, if possible. Customers have overwhelmingly positive feelings toward brands that respond to their comments.
Sometimes no matter how hard you try, a customer may have a negative experience with your brand. Don’t shy away from negative feedback. When responding, it’s important to acknowledge the issue, apologize if your business was at fault, provide an explanation and offer a solution. Customers appreciate having an open and honest dialogue and you can use this as an opportunity to build stronger customer relationships and improve your business.
It is also important to acknowledge your brand advocates. When customers write positive reviews or comments about your business, tell them about an upcoming sale or offer them a discount on their next purchase. It’s a great way to encourage positive feedback, create goodwill and build brand loyalty.
Develop promotions specifically for your social media followers, such as customer appreciation days or weeks. Satisfied and loyal customers make purchases 90 percent more often and spend 60 percent more per transaction. Remember that an investment in your customers is an investment in your business. “Every company’s greatest assets are its customers, because without customers, there is no company,” says customer service expert and author Michael LeBoeuf.
One of the best things about social media is it produces measurable results. You can track the effectiveness of your social posts on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram with built-in analytics tools that indicate customer likes, shares and responses. Find out which social media sites work best for your business and industry.
Monitor how many customers are inspired to visit your website after viewing your social messages. Free online tools like Google Analytics let you measure things like website visits, unique page views and time on page. If you have an eCommerce section on your website, determine which social media approaches generate the most website visits, in-store sales and online revenue and adapt your strategy to capitalize on results.
To stay consistent with your social strategies, consider delegating social media tasks to an authority on your team or an outside expert so you can focus on your business. Set a goal of growing your social media fans and followers every year. Include your Facebook, Twitter and Instagram handles on your website, marketing campaigns, business cards, car decals or store windows to ensure your business is always easy to find.
Connecting with your customers in a meaningful way requires a mindful and consistent social media approach. Use these ideas to make the most of your online marketing and build a brand your customers enjoy interacting with.