How to Connect with Customers on Social MediaWith new social networks popping up all the time, we know it can be easy to get intimidated. However, getting started with social media marketing for your business doesn’t have to be overwhelming. The first — and probably the easiest — step to take is to decide which networks make sense for your business. You don’t need a presence on every platform, just the ones that work for you and your customers.

In 2014, 92% of marketers agreed that social media is important for their business, 80% of whom indicated that their social media efforts increased their website traffic (Kusinitz, 2014). With this many businesses on board, it’s probably safe to assume your competitors are marketing to your potential audience on social… shouldn’t you?

The Seven Main Social Networks for Businesses

  1. Facebook: The simplest and most widely-used network for both personal and professional purposes, Facebook is an easy platform on which to run contests and post links, statuses, photos, and videos. This network is where your customers expect you to interact with them. In 2013, 500 million people were using Facebook, which means there’s a pretty good chance your audience is already there (Wolfe, L. 2013).
  2. LinkedIn: As a self-proclaimed business-oriented social network great for professionals and recruiters, LinkedIn is the best way for businesses to connect with other businesses. It’s also a great resource for finding talent to hire.
  3. Twitter: If your business has a lot to share and your customers can benefit from frequent, quick updates (such as restaurant specials, event venue schedules, or up-to-the-minute news), Twitter may be a good choice for you.
  4. Google+: Every local business should have a Google+ Local page! This page gives you real estate in Google’s search results when people in your area search for businesses like yours. It also gives customers a place to leave reviews, so keep an eye on it for feedback from your customers that can be used to improve your customer service.
  5. YouTube: This network is the easiest to either dive into or rule out. If your business has videos, you should host them on YouTube! And, if you don’t have videos to share, there’s no reason to worry about YouTube until you have video content. If you don’t have video content, you may want to consider it for your business. According to VideoBrewery.com, one minute of video is worth about 1.8 million words and the average user is exposed to an average of 32.2 videos in a month. (Follett, A. 2013)
  6. Instagram: If your audience is younger and you have products, events, or good-looking things to photograph, Instagram works great as an image outlet. It’s the ideal tool for posting photos to multiple networks at once, while hashtagging (using established keyword tags after the pound sign) to get maximum exposure within the platform itself.
  7. Pinterest: Does your company cater to people who love DIY projects, recipes, design (interior and otherwise), or anything else that’s visually appealing? Around 70% of Pinterest’s users are female, so if you’re trying to reach women, this is the perfect place to have a business presence (McDermott, J. 2014).

Four Social Networking Tips for Your Business

  1. After Creating Profiles, Create an Incentive. While it’s easy enough to create social accounts for your business and direct customers to your website, give them a reason to keep coming back. Whether it’s through helpful tips, customer service interactions, contests, or promotions, your customers should have an incentive to follow you. Provide limited-time coupons, or offer a limited-time discount to Facebook fans — anything that will make them feel like they benefit from following you.
  2. Know Which Accounts to Connect (and When). There are many ways to make managing multiple social accounts easier for your business, but you must know when to connect or automate your accounts, and when to post manually. For example, Facebook and Twitter allow you to connect the two so that all posts to Facebook automatically post to your Twitter and vice-versa. Keep in mind, however, that these networks are very different platforms with fundamentally different structures. For example, when images in a post are shared to Twitter from Facebook, the image will only appear as a link, therefore losing the visual advantage.
  3. Promote Your Posts. Promoting social posts can move your messages to the top of the news feeds of both your current audience and the audience you want to target. Facebook’s advanced audience targeting allows you to easily target a specific audience based on a range of demographic and interest information (Facebook Advanced Advertising, 2014).
  4. Interact and Stay Involved. The most important factor in any successful social effort is to continually interact with your current and potential customers. Be a resource for them, but remember that your audience can be a resource for your business, too. Ask questions, request feedback, or even put out a request for photos of your products or events. When it comes down to it, connecting with your customers is where you’ll see the real value in using social media for your business.

 

Website References
Kusinitz, S. (2014, June 6). 16 Stats that Prove Social Media Isn’t Just a Fad [New Data]. Retrieved August 10, 2014, from http://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/social-media-roi-stats

Wolfe, L. (2013, October 3). How Many People Use Facebook. Retrieved July 14, 2014, from http://womeninbusiness.about.com/od/facebook/a/How-Many-People-Use-Facebook.htm

Follett, A. (2013). 18 Big Video Marketing Statistics and What They Mean for Your Business [blog post]. Retrieved August 25, 2014, from http://www.videobrewery.com/blog/18-video-marketing-statistics

McDermott, J. (2014, February 20). Pinterest: the no-bro zone [blog post]. Retrieved July 14, 2014, from http://digiday.com/platforms/why-pinterest-is-still-a-predominantly-female-platform/

Facebook Advanced Advertising (2014). Precisely the right people [Web Page]. Retrieved July 14, 2014, from https://www.facebook.com/business/products/advanced-ads

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