Social Media Series: How Businesses Should be Using Social Media

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By Kelly Robertson

The majority of companies using social media now realize the importance of it, but many do not take full advantage of the opportunities social media lends, nor do they employ its theory correctly.

Many companies still insist on using on social media for self-promotion; they are not engaging with, replying to nor asking anything in return from their social media followers. If your company is embarking on rolling out its first social media strategy there are a few guidelines to keep in mind to ensure you are utilizing social media to its full potential.

Focus on Building Relationships First

Many companies that use social media still insist on pushing their own content and do not focus on building relationships with their fans. They focus more on the hard sell and do not focus on “the soft sell”. This is the wrong theory behind social.

Social media is an excellent sales tool as long as it is used passively and the relationships with your fans are built first and foremost.  Your fans are potential customers who are following you because they already like what you are doing. Focus on nurturing that and building trust – your fan base will be more likely to purchase from you in the future.

To Build Brand Loyalty Remember to Engage

The amount of engagement with your fans by your company will be the main factor in building brand loyalty. It is arguably the most important aspect of social media. Engaging enables you to put a persona behind your brand, which will build trust and loyalty between you and your potential customers because they will feel like they are dealing with a real person. When it finally comes to a fan making a purchase decision, the amount of support and engagement experienced through social media will be one of the main deciding factors in the purchase cycle of whether they choose you or a competitor.

Engage Your Top Advocates

There are fans on social media sites raving about your products and services. These are the fans, or “brand ambassadors” your company needs to nurture and engage with. A brand ambassador freely promotes your brand to their personal social media networks; it’s essentially free advertising.

Take advantage of your brand ambassadors by supplementing their social media posts with additional promotions such as Facebook Sponsored Stories, a blog post featuring the brand ambassador, publicly awarding them with a special offer, complementary gift card, or free product.  Awarding them publicly on your social media platforms is a great way to publicly show your appreciation of your most engaged and loyal fans.

Received Feedback? Follow Up

Up until mass adoption of social media, consumers were required to call a company in order to log a complaint, often ending up nowhere but lost in the circuit boards. There was no public accountability for companies to make good with angry customers and their issues were simply swept under the rug.

The consumers of today turn to social media to complain when they are unhappy. This is often a scary fact for companies who are thinking of adopting social media and do not want a public display of unsatisfied customers. However, customers are already using social media to talk and gripe about the service they are receiving. There is no hiding from it. Companies, if they wish to stay current with their customer base, need to embrace it, take a deep breath and then deal with any complaints they receive.  This is also a great way to manage your company’s reputation online.

With social media, customers are more likely to post a positive comment than negative; however, when a negative comment does happen it should be responded to quickly. Offer a solution and follow up with after to ensure the issue has been resolved.

A company that does not take negative comments posted on social media platforms seriously (by not following up with them) is not going to fare well in today consumer controlled world.

Be Authentic and Stay On Brand

There is nothing worse than seeing a person using social media who does not stay authentic and true to themselves. The same goes for company values.

Ensure that everyone in your company who will be managing your company’s social media platforms knows your company values, social media policy, brand guidelines and what are reasonable or unreasonable topics to post on behalf of your company. Then enable your team to freely engage with your consumers through social media being sure to monitor the engagement.

Offer Unique Content

Your fan base is more likely to grow and become brand advocates if you offer them something unique that is not available to anyone outside your social media platforms. VIP offers, coupons, event invites, and sale notices delivered to your social media followers before the general public are good examples of what to offer. These can be behind a “gate” image – where a fan has to “Like” your Facebook page first in order to receive the special offer. This builds your social media fan base while simultaneously increases the number of potential customers obtained through social media.

Kelly Robertson is the Marketing Manager at 6S Marketing, a digital marketing agency with offices in Toronto and Vancouver.  6S specializes in providing their clients with online strategies that ultimately increase qualified, sales ready traffic through their websites. They have provided their expertise in search engine optimization, paid search marketing, Google Analytics and social media projects to hundreds of clients since 2000. Visit www.6Smarketing.com for more information.

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