As a micro market operator, you strive to make each and every interaction with your customer a positive experience. But that relationship with your customer doesn’t stop there; you need to continue to cultivate it online, which is a constant challenge in the increasingly crowded digital space. It’s a worthwhile investment of your time and resources, as establishing and deepening the relationship with your consumers online can translate into increased brand loyalty and revenue offline. It’s also one of the most effective ways to grow your target audience. According to Entrepreneur, utilizing social media can boost your website’s SEO.
Whether you have a dedicated in-house social media manager or you’re building a social media plan from scratch, there are some tried-and-true principles you can follow once you’ve identified your target audience for your social media efforts. Even if you’ve already created multiple social media accounts that you’ve been operating for years, you may want to review them to ensure these elements are uniform in each digital space. Keep in mind that social media isn’t necessarily a replacement for other forms of advertising and marketing, but it’s a good way to enhance your overall media plan. It’s also a great way to tell your company’s story.
Here are six tips to get you started:
1. Create a strong profile that is consistent across social media platforms: Determine which platforms make the most sense for your brand, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google, Yelp, LinkedIn and YouTube. Your company doesn’t necessarily need to be on every platform, so research each option to determine which ones are best to interact with your audience. (If you’re not sure where to start, Business News Daily breaks it down here.) You’ll need to invest some time and creativity in creating a space for your brand on each platform, but once they’re up and running, it’s fairly easy to manage this process.
Your brand’s voice should be accurately represented and consistent across each platform. Be sure to include general information about your company, including your location, website, contact email and/or phone number, and a brief bio or tagline that accurately describes your business. Provide an option for users to join your mailing list or speak to someone at your company, which gives you additional ways to communicate with them. Set alerts when other users post a comment or a question, so you are immediately notified of action items.
2. Adhere to a consistent schedule: A neglected social media account sends a negative message to your potential customer about your brand. Create a schedule to post content to your social media channels so these tasks are not overlooked or forgotten. Maximize your efforts by using a social media management program such as Hootsuite or Buffer, which allow you to publish content across multiple platforms and track engagement. It may take some trial and error to determine a proper posting schedule for each social media channel, and this will likely evolve over time as your audience grows.
3. Content is king, so pay attention to what kinds of posts result in increased engagement: Your social media channels provide you the opportunity to speak directly to your audience – that’s a powerful tool! Consider what you want to tell them, whether it’s general information about your business, upcoming promotions or new product launches.
Posts with photos or video content tend to result in greater engagement, as they encourage users to spend more time on your brand’s page. These could include photos that showcase something special your company did recently – at Mondelēz International, we post pictures and links showcasing our philanthropic activity – or brief videos about one of our areas of focus, mindful snacking. Twitter and Facebook are particularly good platforms for sharing client testimonials or other user-generated content.
Use humor thoughtfully, as memes and viral photos can boost interaction with your followers without necessarily distracting from your messaging. Repost, retweet and post links to related content, especially if a relevant topic is trending, as that can attract more eyes to your profile. Utilize interactive tools such as simple surveys or contests to further engage your audience. Offer your followers incentives such as discounts or giveaways if they tag their friends or repost/retweet your content.
4. Use your social media accounts to offer promotions, coupons, rewards and other incentives with customers: Offer your followers incentives such as discounts, rewards, coupons or giveaways if they tag their friends or repost/retweet your content. This a great way to engage with your customers and potential customers. It can also increase your sales. Craig Kushner, president of Monumental Vending in Beltsville, Maryland, tested this theory out a few years ago with Coke, which asked him to offer a free beverage for every nine purchased in machines in 50 of his locations. Sales in the machines that offered the promotion increased by 6%, and sales of Coke increased by 20% in those machines. His overall sales decreased in all other machines during this promotion.
5. Keep an eye on comments and reviews: Social media platforms aren’t just marketing tools. They’re also customer service tools. Potential customers may reference your Yelp or Google profile to read other customers’ reviews. If you receive a negative review or complaint, respond swiftly and professionally, and invite the reviewer to further discuss the issue offline. This shows a prospective customer that you are listening to feedback and striving to keep your consumer base happy. Jeremy Kagan, a professor at Columbia Business School, said in an interview with USA Today, “You’re not necessarily going to fix an upset person. What you can do is limit the impact.”
Be sure to regularly check your DMs – direct messages – on all platforms so you’re not missing an opportunity to speak directly with someone. If they don’t further engage with you in direct messaging, don’t take it personally – some social media users like to publicly air their grievances and disappear, while others are genuinely seeking resolution.
6. Establish goals for each social media channel and monitor your progress: One of the greatest benefits of social media is the ease of measuring your ROI. You can easily track how many people click through your links, or how many people respond or repost your content. If you’re purchasing ads, you can monitor how many people see those ads, and how many click through to your website.
In addition to tracking your success, your social media accounts can help streamline your efforts. Chuck Olson, owner of CNC Vending in Stafford, Texas, has been aggressively using social media for his business for nearly a decade. Last year, he noted that when he started offering giveaways and coupons to customers via social media, it was easier for his company to redeem these than rewarding tokens.
Integrate your social media plan into your larger marketing plan to see how it affects your business offline. It may take some time to evaluate these metrics and feel their impact, but tracking what tactics mobilize your audience is worth your effort.
Creating and managing your social media plan can seem overwhelming, but once you make it part of your company’s overall routine, it will start to run like clockwork. Use those metric-tracking tools to determine if you need to tweak your approach so you can make the most of this important tool as you grow your business.