10 years ago, social media and its potential to generate impact with new or existing customers seemed like it might be more trouble than it was worth. Creating a social media presence for your business meant using new and different tools. Often businesses worried “What if I connect with my customers and they have bad things to say, how can I prevent that?” As it turns out, customers were dying to connect on a more personal level with the businesses they cared about. They “liked” and “followed” in massive numbers and were overwhelmingly positive about those businesses they made connections with. Even when consumers were sometimes negative, it turned out that social media became a great customer service tool, allowing real time engagement and immediate problem solving.
The most successful plans for creating and fostering a social media following provide any business with the ability to create connections and build brand awareness. In the last few years, all kinds of businesses, from restaurants, to retail, from food trucks to salons have taken their businesses to the social web. The understanding that blogging, posting, instagraming (we’re pretty sure that’s a word) and tweeting has the ability to increase foot traffic, enhance the customer experience by providing an open channel of communication and ultimately generate more revenue; has led to a revolution in small business social media.
Merchants and retailers have come to see the value within a myriad of different social media platforms such as Google+, Facebook, Twitter and couponing sites. With a massive serge in a “connected” customer base, most businesses have come to the same conclusion–it works. So how does it work? What can I do to stand out in my market? How can I use this to target my audience?
These may be some of the questions you’re asking yourself and we have a few tips that can start you down the right path of making social media work for you.
Branding Yourself, Put Your Stamp On What You Do
We all know it’s important to stand separate from the crowd and make a name for you and your business so patrons can differentiate Joe’s Coffee Shop from the Cup of Joe’s Coffee down the street. Social Sites like Facebook and Twitter are great ways to get noticed by the untapped market. Using these sites as a resource allows for consistent contact with your audience. It empowers you to represent who you are as a company and promotes open dialogue with customers to solidify your brand. And they are all free, nice.
Use Your Tools
Mostly all social media sites have embedded features that a retailer can take advantage of to find the exact target demographic for the business. Features like Facebook’s “Ad Solutions” offer retailers and merchant’s options that will accurately target the demographic of your audience by providing a breakdown of people who visit the page based on gender, age, and location; also, this feature measures the performance of ads posted by “likes” or link-clicks. Google+ offers a little more in the way of personalization. Intergraded workflow charts that link to calendars, email and Google docs, to location sharing, climate updates in your local area and profile filtering, allow no excuse for missing out on potential customers.
Collect Data…and Use It
Knowing your customer is key, check your online tools for the data and information they provide. There will be reports and graphs, maybe you’ll even learn something you didn’t know about your customers. Do you know what their average age is? What towns and cities they live in? It goes without saying that all of this impacts your business in a significant way. Using the data collected from your social media sites to fully understand the demographics of your customers. With good data, you can produce effective marketing, generate promotions and keep customers current with your activity by creating social campaigns full of content that is specific to your targeted audience.
Be Your Brand, Stay True to You
When it comes to stamping your mark in business world, social media can help you make a profound impact; remember that consistency is key. Maintain a consistent way of communicating with customers in all social media sites. Don’t be pithy on Facebook and serious on Twitter, no matter what your businesses personality it, be true to it when you communicate, always. This will ensure that no matter how people find you, they’ll get the consumer experience you want them to.