If you want your business to thrive and grow, you need to be aware of your environment, keeping up with new trends and assessing how they impact on your business is a part of this.
Traditional marketing strategies can still work but their deployment and the audience they’re aimed at may no longer cut it.
We can accept that it’s more difficult to find the person who doesn’t have at least one social media account versus those who do have, and your customers are no exception.
If they are open to engaging with your brand online, don’t leave them with just your competition to talk to! Don’t forget, they are almost certainly using social media to grow their customer base (both b2b and b2c), so don’t let that be achieved by eroding yours. You need to be flexible and keep up with the times.
There’s good news, as these platforms – Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn are all free to set up on, but if you want this marketing strategy to succeed, you still need to invest – in terms of time, effort and now ad budget. These platforms are now unadulterated in that they are ad platforms. On social platforms you will be targeting an identikit profile rather than an immediate need (that’s where Google Ads are great)
• Content: This is the critical asset. You must invest time in creating a constant flow of high-quality and relevant content on a regular basis, so more and more people will share and like your content.
• Consider visual design: All of your social media profiles should be consistent with your brands visual design. Don’t use different colours online as this will only confuse your customers.
• Choose the right networks: Each social media channel has a different focus, different opportunities and a different mix of content: Twitter is great for building brand awareness; Facebook creates strong communities around shared interests; Instagram leverages video incredibly well and LinkedIn is the only show in town for a professional / services audience. You will find it hard to keep active on all four while maintaining the highest quality of content, so don’t be “mediocre on many, be fabulous on a few” so decide on one or a couple (at most) and focus on them, at least initially. Whether you be a b2c or b2b business there absolutely is such a thing as the right social media platform for you.
• Target your ads: take time to understand and use the tools provided by each platform to target your ads. For example, Facebook can target ads with incredible detail. This makes it easier for you to ensure your talking to the right people. There was a famous saying about traditional newspaper advertising that went along the lines “I know that half of my advertising budget is wasted, but I don’t know which half it is”. That was the problem with scattergun or mass media. But with social media you can target a profile precisely who buys from you and get in front of them.
• Consistency is key: this strategy delivers but the moment you relax, the competition step back in. You need to commit and understand that you’re in this for the long haul. Keep evaluating what channels work for you, which messages get the best response, and evolve but never stop.
• Connect with influencers: Follow those already popular in your service or product arena and connect with these influencers. Start by sharing and liking their posts, then once you are more confident try to respond to questions in a similar way. Understand how the most popular will be very generous with time and detailed answers, as that boosts their credibility and popularity. Try to emulate that. And add details to their response threads to become established in the community. If you do this regularly, influencers will start to respond to your comment threads and that builds your credibility by association and drives new potential customers to your audience.
• Stay engaged: You’ll soon get to see the same questions repeated in your comments. Use that insight to help evolve the content on your website, but don’t think ‘I’ve already answered that’. Treat each enquiry as a new lead. You wouldn’t say to a customer in your shop ‘We had a workshop about that last month, sorry you missed it.’ You’d answer their question (and probably highlight that you have regular workshops where customers can learn more about the product, so why don’t they sign up for your mailing list to never miss a relevant one again!)
Take time to thank everyone who leaves a positive comment and share their posts if they give you a positive comment. It does all take time, but it will show how accessible you are as a brand and how you value your customers: two things that build a positive reputation online. For more info on “handling social proof from the good, the bad, the ugly and the downright crazies”, then have a read of our article on “Narcissism or Necessity”.