Article by Guest Poster
This article was written by a guest contributor. The author's views below are entirely his or her own and may not reflect the views of WHSR.
Social media is a crucial tool for promoting your business online.
Whatever kind of business you have, the different social media platforms available give you a variety of captive audiences who might be interested in your products and services. For that audience to stay captive, however, you need to provide social media content that’s valuable and effective for your business. Providing the right kind of content to your fans and followers over time will widen your customer base and increase sales. The steps below cover some basic actions you can take to start providing valuable and effective social media content that helps your customers and your business.
Turning up regularly and showing your fans and followers you are actively maintaining your social networking profiles will encourage others to engage with you. Social media is a conversation, and if you’re absent from your profiles for a long period of time, you won’t be part of the dialogue. You can show your current and future customers that you’re present by posting on a regular basis, and interacting with their posts and comments.
Deciding how often to post can be tricky, and the frequency with which you choose to turn up online depends on what kind of business you have, as well as how much spare time you have. Using social media tools such as HootSuite and SproutSocial can help limit the amount of time you spend updating profiles. If you’re a solopreneur or have a small number of employees, it’s important to be realistic about just how often you can update. Some organizations and entrepreneurs choose to update their networks three or four times per day, whereas others have managed to build a community by updating three or four times per week. The final number is your decision, what’s more important is that you show up regularly and demonstrate to fans that you’re active and interesting.
Providing useful information is one of the key ways you can gain trust and credibility with fans. “Useful” information doesn’t mean posting solely about what your business is doing, as it’s also about including tidbits that are relevant to your fans’ lives. This might include videos, links, and images, as well as text updates. When thinking about what kind of information you want to provide your audience, try making a list of types of content you can include as part of your social media strategy. It also helps to provide provide variety, as posting the same kind of content all the time could get monotonous for your followers, which will deter them from making the transition from fan to customer in the future.
Sharing other people’s content is a useful way of providing valuable information to your fans, especially if you don’t have much time to create content yourself. You might feel like you’re in competition with the people who produce content that’s relevant to your audience, but the social media world can be karmic. If you behave generously towards others, they are more likely to behave generously towards you, share your material, and promote your website in a positive light. Showing your customers that you’re confident enough to share material from the competition, and that providing them with useful content is a priority, will help build your credibility too.
Twitter is one of the easiest social media platforms for sharing other people’s content, as re-tweeting is as simple as the click of a mouse.
Social media is the perfect medium to reveal the people behind the magic, and show customers who is responsible for producing your company’s products and services. Customers and fans are human, and they want to know that the people behind their favorite brands are human too. Showing that you are human means being visible (while still maintaining professional boundaries). This means talking about the good and the bad things that happen with your business, as well as your achievements, awards and details about current projects.
You can also use social media to relate to customers on a more human level, and step outside business topics occasionally to talk about what you did at the weekend, say you’re looking forward to a public holiday, and wish your customers happy holidays. The level of formality you keep on your social media page will depend on the type of business you run and your clientele, so it’s important to strike a balance between being professional, and friendly and inviting.
The Introvert Entrepreneur is a Facebook page run by coach Beth Buelow. She posts content that is relevant to the goals of the page, but is also not afraid to be open about her life and her personality, as in the example below.
Showing consistency in your approach to your company’s social media strategy helps demonstrate to fans that you are a dependable organization who values its customers and takes the business seriously. Part of this consistency is communicated by turning up regularly, and the other part is shown through consistency in the tone and style of the content you produce. When maintaining online profiles, approach all social media contact from the framework of your business mission. If something doesn’t fit your message, don’t post it. If a comment could leave you looking unprofessional, rephrase it to something more appropriate. Thinking about your updates from the perspective of your readers will help you build your brand, and give potential customers a much better idea of the kind of organization you represent.
Social media isn’t just about sharing information, it’s also about interacting with and responding to fans and followers. Say thank you to people who retweet or share your content with their friends and followers, and respond to your fans’ comments and questions. By engaging and interacting with your fans in a helpful and positive way, you’re demonstrating that you care about their experience of your organization, which will build their confidence in your brand.
Bridget Pilloud is a writer and coach. In the example below, not only is she highly positive about her clients, but she also demonstrates the effectiveness of her coaching.
Tailor the content you post to the platforms you’re using. Different social media platforms are useful for different types of content. For example, Twitter is perfect for posting bite-sized text updates and links, but if most of your content is video and images, you might want to consider using Facebook instead. The tone you use on each social networking site might also vary. Facebook and Twitter are informal and your posts there should focus on what value you bring to customers. LinkedIn, on the other hand, is aimed at professionals, and your content on this site should focus more on your professional credentials and achievements.
As well as promoting your products and services to customers, social media is useful for connecting to other professionals in your field and related areas. You might consider these people to be competitors, colleagues or potential mentors, however they are still useful contacts to nurture. It might take a while for your social media profiles to start pulling in big audiences, or to translate into sales. Word of mouth is incredibly powerful, however, so taking the time to build your online community could pay off in ways you never expected.