A social media primer for small businesses
Some tips for companies to consider when leveraging different platforms
For most small businesses, leveraging social media platforms can represent the most cost-effective way to reach their audience to influence consumers at the point of purchase. A comprehensive social marketing program should be designed to empower business owners to educate and engage with key audiences in a way that didn’t exist a decade ago.
Here are a few tips for small businesses to consider when leveraging social media:
Leverage online reviews: A recent report from Nielsen shows that 90 percent of consumers say that recommendations from personal acquaintances or consumer opinions posted online influence their buying decisions. Small businesses need to encourage their customers to post positive reviews about them on appropriate sites such as Yelp, Facebook, Google+ and Twitter to create positive sentiment about their brands. People care more about referrals and recommendations more than what the brand has to say about itself.
Maintain a consistent voice: It’s critically important for businesses to have a consistent voice across social media platforms. Social networks are platforms for businesses to create a personal connection and conversation with its customers. It is important for brands to establish a voice and decide the way in which they will execute it on various platforms.
For example, Flooring America’s voice on social channels is friendly and informative about everything related to home décor to engage its consumers — everything from inspiring design ideas to home improvement tips. The brand deliberately chooses not to focus just on flooring information.
Create relevant content: When creating content, a business needs to keep in mind that the content should be information that consumers want to read, not just information that the business wants to push out to them. Businesses also want content to be searchable, so define keywords and include them in content that is being created and shared via social channels.
Equally important is to follow the conversations that are being had in the respective industries. Take notice of what consumers are talking about and where they are talking about it. Armed with this information, businesses can provide answers and respond to the fodder whether it is positive or negative. The ultimate goal for any business is to be informed and create content that is aligned with your goals and represents the brands image and voice.
Build stronger relationships with customers: The number one mistake small businesses make when it comes to using social media to strengthen relationships with consumers is their lack of time dedicated to proactively initiate conversations. To avoid this mistake, establish goals that are manageable. For example, set a goal that you will target conservations with customers on social platforms twice a week, and then build from there once the business has a feel for how it is working.
Spend time listening to what customers are saying as well. This will allow a business to identify opportunities to contribute or comment in a meaningful way.
Businesses should also make it easy for customers to share their story and/or experience with their brands. Encourage customers to post comments and share photos to Facebook or pin photos on Pinterest, which help you increase awareness of your brand and products/service.
At the end of the day, small businesses need to be focused on building stronger relationships with their customers and leveraging social media platforms in a focused and strategic way that can allow them to create positive awareness of their brands and ultimately drive sales.
Frank Chiera leads traditional, online, public relations and social media marketing initiatives for Flooring America/Flooring Canada, a 550-store specialty flooring retailer and a subsidiary of CCA Global Partners, which is based in Manchester, N.H., and St. Louis, Mo.