Social media, in recent years, has become part of our daily lives and a great influencer in many customers’ decisions. Platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram and YouTube have proven to be useful as a tool for small businesses to enable growth. Businesses that can benefit from social media use are mainly those that are mainly service-based like salons, whose reputation heavily depends on customer experience and feedback, being able to build a brand image without a tangible product is a tremendous asset in the modern marketing mix.
These tools can be dangerous if you do not know how to use them. Learning how to manage your online reputation should be the first step, protecting your brand. After you’re comfortable with the risks you can begin to engage with customers over social media and increase your growth and reach to new customers. Information provided here is aimed at giving more insight on social media use in the growth of small businesses.
How Social Engagement Works
When you enter your business in the social media space, it is important to view social media not only as an outlet for information about your business, but also as an opportunity to engage with potential consumers. This means that you should listen to your target audience, try to understand what your audience wants to see in you and nurture your potential customers till they buy your services and afterward. This stops you from talking to yourself 24/7. Here is how social engagement on social media takes place best.
This is usually the first step before you partake in any social media activity. It is important that you take time and monitor your target audience, trends, thought leaders and competitors in your industry. This helps you to read your potential market so that you can know how to package your content so that it meets their expectations. When your potential customers are looking for new options, they will notice how well you interpret what they want to see from you.
In recent years, social media has developed into a full customer service outlet where customers can openly give their reviews of any product or service. Most brands thrive on a good reputation and thus this requires a lot emphasis. Always ensure that you address your customers’ queries on social media as this will help in building trust and confidence in the brand. When you respond to your customers’ queries, ensure that you do it as fast as possible to give them a sense of importance and value. Negative customer testimonials that go unaddressed will most likely chase away potential customers of your product or service.
3.Promote your Brand’s Enthusiasts
Now that you have closely monitored your target audience and built trust through prompt response to queries, you can take the positive sentiments that you received and share them to build more trust. When you use user-generated content on your platform such as sharing salon selfies, you make your brand look more open and relatable. You can also give gifts such as a gift hamper of beauty products to your customers who share their experience on social media.
This happens when a potential customer has made a purchase and the sale has been made. The conversation should not end there and you should make the customer feel appreciated. Take time to follow up via email see how they feel about your service, maybe ask them to leave a Google or Facebook review. If they reach out in anyway, ensure you are there to respond. Being available is half the battle.
Organic Posts and How to Increase Organic Social Media Traffic
Sometimes, we are under the impression that posting on our social media page is enough to reach our target audience. This is not true as posts on most social media platforms run an algorithmic feed, this ensures that posts shown to users are based on past behavior and preferences, but not chronological order. If a user engages with a person or brand, the algorithm assumes they enjoy that interaction and adjust to show the user more from that source. The more a user interacts with your brand on, say Facebook, the more you will appear in their feed.
On Facebook, in particular, organic posts are likely to only reach 2 percent of followers. To make matters worse for organic posts, that percentage is more likely to drop. However, organic posts are still important, even when you pay for your posts to be promoted, you will always refer to your organic posts where more information can be given. It is also much cheaper when compared to paid social media content. Here are ways to increase your organic social media traffic for the benefits of your business.
1.Be active on a hashtag that is relevant to your service or product. Hashtags are a big part of social media as they make it easier for users to start conversations and join in on discussions and events. Be sure to join in on a hashtag that is relevant to your product or service. For example, if you are aiming at promoting a salon and a big beauty pageant is coming up you can comment on the different hairstyles on the models and live tweet the event. However, you should shy away from using hashtags on social media platforms that do not do well with hashtags, such as Facebook.
2.Use Emoji. Emojis have been widely embraced in the social media space as a vocabulary. Emojis humanize your brand and capture more attention compared to words. This is because before a person reads the actual words, he or she can tell from the emojis the general idea behind the post and the emotions conveyed.
3.Make use of the viral nature of memes. Memes are generally cultural behaviors that are transferred from one person to another through imitation. A business could tap into the innate virality of memes. To be effective at this you must find topics that are trending at that particular time and find a way to relate with them to your brand. But – stern warning- make sure the you are using the meme correctly! Incorrectly used memes can really lower your street cred:
This is only a partial joke, the nature of memes is that of a shared, but unspoken, thought or idea, innately understood by those in the know. If you know the joke, you can create a funny meme and be part of the group. If you think you know the joke, and get it wrong, you are painting ‘outsider’ right on your own wall. Since, when businesses make memes, they are trying to show affinity with their audience, that they understand the way their customers think. Getting it wrong could have the opposite effect.
If you’re still confused then head to Knowyourmeme.com armed with a backwards baseball cap and skateboard over your shoulder and learn all you can to fit in.
4.Run a giveaway contest. Contests that give away prizes tend to draw more interaction with customers on social media. This is because they give the customers the impression that they have to do little in order to reap benefits of the prize. The more attractive the prize, the more people will take part in the contest, which brings in more traffic.
Ways to Grow your Business with Social Media
It is very clear that social media is a very powerful tool for small businesses to market themselves. There are ways in which small businesses can make optimum use of their social media presence. Find out where your audience spends their time online, then make your presence felt there. It is no good creating a great Pinterest page, and following the below instructions, if your audience lives on Snapchat. Once you have found the platform(s) your audience frequents then:
1.Post frequently and consistently. To run successful social media campaigns, you should post on a regular basis so that your presence is felt. The more you post, the higher the chances of your content reaching your intended target audience.
2.Format content to optimize for each platform. What works on one platform may not do well in another, and thus it would be unwise to post the same post in the same format across all social media platforms. A good example is the use of hashtags that does well on Instagram and Twitter but not that well on Facebook.
3.Ensure that your content coordinates with your product and message. There are posts that you may feel tempted to post mainly because they are popular and would get more likes, but they do not in any way relate to your brand. Some may even contradict with what you are trying to sell. An example is when you are trying to market a salon business but you post a popular blog on why women should cut their own hair.
4.Lay emphasis on networks that generate more traffic. When you are a small business, you are greatly limited to the resources at your disposal. To make the most of what you have, you concentrate your efforts on the platforms that are popular with the clientele that you aim to lure into your business.
5.Format your content in a way that appeals to a specific demographic. When you are coming up with content that you want to post, do not generalize on which audience you want to address. An example is trying to sell a comb to a general audience and it ends up on an old bald man’s news feed. Use words that are likely to appeal to a specific demographic.
How to Use Employees as Brand Ambassadors
Studies have shown that a customer is more likely to believe the word of a regular employee than the word of the company’s CEO or marketing department. Using this factor together with social media can easily yield more traffic to the company’s social media presence. To do this it is important to take some initial steps to get the most out of using your employees as brand ambassadors. These steps are as follows.
1.Clearly, State what Social Advocacy in your Company Looks Like
The very first step you should take is to clearly articulate what the company’s social media strategy is, so as to give the employees a clear picture of your objectives. After doing this, you should lay out the basic social media guidelines and use examples that apply to your industry show them the best practices to engage in. At the end of this discussion, your employees should have a clear picture of what to do.
2.Assist your Employees to Set up Social Media Accounts
To grow your company’s online reach, provide the basic-level information on setting up social media accounts to willing employees. You can even hire a professional from outside to come and give this training, even advise the willing employees on the best practices on social media. You can even add incentives to encourage more employees to sign up, for example getting a professional photographer to get their headshots.
3.Teach your Employees to be Proactive within Social Media
It is common for people to give negative comments to a good service or business. You should stress that your employees react proactively to such comments, foster positive interactions and refrain themselves from being reactive to such comments. They should focus on giving more information on the business, promote campaigns of new products and engage with the targeted audience.
For small businesses, social media has opened a lot of opportunities to reach a wider audience and failure to use this tool for marketing would be ignorant. With some small effort on your part, as a manager or owner, then you can unify your social media strategy. This helps you reach your target audience where they choose to spend their free time. All of this is essential for a brand to reach the level of interaction that fosters loyalty, reach and engagement.