Are you a new business owner or have you recently started a ‘side hustle’ alongside your 9-5?
If so, you need to understand the relevance of social media as a way to connect with your customers.
When people are on the hunt for a new product or service, the search usually starts online. More and more companies are creating social media portfolios within their marketing strategies. (Not all of which are effective!)
Social media platforms provide us with an insight we never had before and as a new business, you need to ensure you’re going to tick all of the boxes from the word go. Not only is it a way to find out more about a brand, but we can also to see what current customers have to say about a company or service.
If you want to ensure you hit the ground running, take some inspiration from these top tips:
- Who are you?
You are the number one person to effectively communicate what your brand represents. What are you looking to achieve, what is your vision, how do you want to be perceived? You know your product and company better than anyone and therefore your social media needs to speak as if it were coming from you directly. Whether you will be physically posting online or you’re fortunate to have a team to do that, it’s best practise to start with a plan. Decide which topics you want to discuss, the language you want to use, which platforms are suitable for your brand and who you want to interact with. This will help establish if you’re on the right path, and get creative!
- Be current
The online reputations that are the most successful are the ones that can provide up-to-date, relevant information. Whether it’s breaking news, hot trends or celebrity disasters, consumers stick with the sites that keep them informed first. In order for this to happen you need to be aware of what and when you’re posting. If you’re launching a new product, get your audience involved with the process. Perhaps behind the scenes action or “sneak peeks” in the run-up to the launch will allow a sense of exclusivity and enforce your business know-how.
Now, social media is not just a tool for gossip. Don’t feel inclined to post about celebs or a real world crisis; there are plenty of sites that do that. If your company represents something else, stick to it! Don’t confuse your brand identity.
- Understand YOUR audience
Emphasis on the “YOUR” here. Who is it that you want to engage? This is a good starting place. You should also look at what time of the day they are online, what do they do for a living and what their interests are. These snippets of information will allow you to target your content effectively to catch the interest of the right people. There’s no point creating fabulous content to then throw it at the wrong people at the wrong time.
- Assumption is the Mother of all Muck-Ups
Even though your audience seems virtual, it does not mean they are all robots. They are people and people are unpredictable. Treat your audience as a subject, rather than an object. Your social media output is a dialogue. It’s fluid and conversational between you and that individual. In order to continue engaging your audience, you need to acknowledge how your audience is changing. To do this, you should communicate with your social media team frequently; they are the people who can help you understand what’s working and what isn’t, they live and breathe social media so they will also have a good grasp on which directions you should be moving in and where the market is heading. Just because you think or want your brand to be perceived a certain way, that does not mean it is being. You need to keep a record of what content is creating interaction and what is being ignored.
- Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail
Although it may seem an unnecessary expense to outsource your social media advice or activity, it isn’t. As already mentioned, fresh customers are generally coming from internet searches and the first impression they will have of your company is extremely important. Investing in someone who is an expert will not only ensure you have frequent and relevant content, it will also enable you to create realistic and measurable goals for your brand. Having a well thought through strategy puts you in a great place to execute your online, and consequent business, goals.
- Don’t assume having an online presence automatically means you are a Social Media Guru
Just because you have a personal profile doesn’t mean you now know the nitty gritty of Facebook ads, Twitter promoted-posts and Instagram sponsored ads. Even if you posted a successful ad a year ago, these platforms are continually evolving and adjusting to what society now deems necessary. Having an expert on hand will save you a lot of stress and anxiety about content being out of date or irrelevant. Their job surrounds being current and knowing what’s going on online, leaving you the freedom to focus on what you love the most, your company.
- Adopt a ‘Test and Learn’ methodology
In the beginning of your online journey, it’s wise to get together with your social media team to test the waters with many concepts and ideas. Put out a variety of notions and monitor what works and what doesn’t. By doing this you can not only eliminate the ineffective methods, but you can build upon the successful ones, creating a strong foundation for future creativity. Google Analytics is a fantastic and easy way to collate your online interactions, and it’s free! Your social media consultant will be able to walk you through the data, don’t worry.
The important thing to comprehend when it comes to building an online presence is that it takes time. You can’t buy your way to a genuine, profitable following, it takes a lot of effort and patience to gain support and awareness, but once you have it, it’s invaluable.
- Don’t get comfortable!
In the beginning you may be excited and pro-active when coming up with fresh ideas. Posting regular content and promptly responding to interactions. Don’t let this slip! If you don’t have the time, or the passion to focus that energy online, then definitely outsource it. The Inter-Web World moves fast. A lot faster than the real world. Building a great website or twitter account to only neglect it when you hit your follower goals will only mean you have to start all over again a few months down the line. The goal should always be to engage new customers. Your business can only grow so much with a static customer base.
In short, keep your strategy fluid, enabling your brand to move with the times. The goal is to develop new relationships and engage more communities, obtaining respect, interest and future custom.
Social media can potentially make or break your company. By taking your online activity seriously you are on the right path. Remember first impressions count!