In today’s always-connected society, social media marketing is becoming an increasingly powerful tool for small businesses. Just like big-name corporations, new startups, and home-based businesses can likewise increase their visibility through social networks.
In fact, it’s easier than ever for small businesses to grow a thriving community of followers, fans, and customers.
When it comes to setting up your business’s social media accounts, there are a lot of factors to consider. After all, a good Facebook or Twitter strategy can be worth its weight in gold.
In addition, both large and small businesses can benefit from the increased visibility, customer interaction, and website traffic that come with a successful social media presence.
Fortunately, there are many steps that small businesses can take while on social media.
Track Your Efforts
While it may seem like common sense, many small businesses have a great plan for their social media accounts but forget to implement ways to track their success. Then, a few months down the road, quantifying and fine-tuning your social media strategy turns into a much bigger challenge than necessary.
Whether you’re implementing a new plan or changing up an existing part of your strategy, make sure you define what success will look like and then track your efforts.
One way to do this is to set up Google Analytics on your website. With it you can track which social media channel is bringing people to your website and how engaged they are with your content.
You can also set up Goals to track when people take an action on your site, like requesting more information or signing up for your newsletter.
Once that’s done you can start to see which audience is the most valuable to your business and focus more efforts on that channel.
Manage Your Image
When it comes to having a successful social media presence, all small businesses need to carefully maintain the image they want to portray.
After all, thanks to the very public and shareable nature of platforms like Twitter, one insensitive tweet can very easily turn into a public relations fiasco.
Likewise, since social media is becoming the new customer service medium, it is important to address any complaints or questions quickly and appropriately.
In general, small businesses should strive to stay more on the professional side with posts and comments.
If you have more than one person managing your social media accounts, make sure they all understand what type of response is appropriate for your business.
This does not mean your business cannot have a sense of humor or communicate in a more casual manner; however, it pays to be careful.
In addition, it’s good to remember that a small slip-up does not necessarily spell doom for your business’s image. Even big companies have had incidents on social media.
Take for example, American Red Cross’s famous “rogue tweet” mishap in 2011 where an employee accidentally posted about drinking too much using the company’s Twitter account.
Fortunately, the Red Cross responded admirably by deleting the tweet, quickly acknowledging the mistake, and handling the blunder with appropriate humor.
While bigger PR mistakes are a different matter, the Red Cross’s swift admission of human error in this incident not only mitigated the damage but actually turned it into a trending fundraiser campaign.
Provide Diverse Content
In terms of the day-to-day business of social media, no one likes seeing the same old kind of posts on their news feed. While your business should have a certain look, feel, or type of content they provide, don’t be afraid to diversify.
Posting YouTube videos, trivia questions, giveaways, and other types of content can help provide variety and maintain interest between the standard posts your viewers expect.
Use Visually Rich Content
Small businesses should aim to use visually rich content in their social media postings. You’ve heard that a picture is worth a thousand words, and we, as human beings, are naturally drawn to (and can more quickly process) content that is visually appealing.
Furthermore, implementing images is an easy tactic that gets results. As illustrated in an infographic shared by HubSpot in 2014, businesses can generate up to 94% more views and see a 37% increase in engagement from their target audience just by including compelling visual elements and graphics to their posts.
In addition, use of visually engaging content also correlates with an increase in other key online indicators, such as more subscribers, followers, likes, retweets, and shares.
Appoint an Experienced Manager
From keeping your profile updated to answering questions, the person (or people) in charge of your social media can have a major influence on your business’s reputation.
Especially in today’s online climate, just one offhand response or poorly timed post has the potential to turn into a PR nightmare. While most employees use social media sites to some degree, you don’t want to entrust your business account to just anyone.
In fact, the best social media managers often wear a variety of hats. They are content developers, community facilitators, data analysts, and customer service reps all in one.
As a result, whether you decide to hire an individual or an entire team, make sure that your social media accounts are being managed in a professional manner.
Respond Appropriately To Reviews
Whatever product or service your small business provides, cultivating and responding to customer reviews is important. After all, according to BrightLocal, online reviews hold the same weight as word-of-mouth does for 88% of consumers.
While obtaining positive reviews is great, how you handle negative comments is critical. Especially on social media and sites like Yelp, small businesses need to be careful when addressing less-than-glowing reviews.
In all aspects, remember to be professional. Resist the temptation to ignore complaints or to respond back with sarcasm or anger. While it’s up to you whether your business wants to address negative reviews publicly or privately, always attempt to remedy the problem and apologize for bad experiences.
This not only shows that your business cares about its patrons, but can oftentimes appease an upset customer or turn a negative review into a positive one.
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