Eat, sleep, Tweet, repeat. Social media is now a given in our daily lives. As a business, it can be a big opportunity for you.
Online networks, or “social media” as we call it, allow people to link, interact, share and exchange information. They’ve quickly become something we can’t seem to live without. Literally millions of people connect and share on social media every single day.
But it can also be a great tool for businesses. Social media can be a platform that lets you talk directly to your customers and prospective customers alike, share content, get involved in conversations, build trust, reach more people, grow your sphere of influence, and ultimately understand your customers better.
Imagine you own a vintage clothing shop. Your customers might already be using social media to talk about you. They might be sharing their amazing finds, asking for advice about alterations or even to post photos of celebs in retro outfits.
When you join these social networks, you can join these conversations and start new ones. Maybe you’ll start by sharing photos when you get new items in stock, and this will help you stay “top-of-mind”. It also give people a reason to visit, again and again.
This way your network can grow quickly. Those people might see your posts and share them with other fashionistas, which can score you new followers and new connections. These are people who just might become your next customers.
Social media can also help you build trust with your audience. Imagine a potential customer reading reviews, or watching videos of real people—not models—wearing and raving about your clothes.
Social media provides an opportunity for your customers and fans to promote your products, and when this happens, you earn trust. Why? When someone else says how great you are, it carries more weight. You’re not promoting yourself—your customers are doing it for you.
And, there’s one last benefit of social media for your business: You can learn by watching how people interact with your brand online.
Maybe no one’s interested in a blog post about the history of brocade, but a video showing 20 ways to tie a silk scarf gets tons of shares. Figure out what people like—both online and in your shop—and give them more of it.
Sound good? Right, let’s talk about how you can make social media really pay off for your business by joining the right social media sites, sharing content and participating in lively conversations and growing your networks.
You can’t tap into the power of social media unless you’re there. First, you’ll want to get to know the different networks. Which ones are your customers using most?
This will help you decide if you need a Facebook page, a YouTube channel, a Pinterest account, a Twitter handle, a Google+ page, a LinkedIn company page, or some combination of these and others.
Then, you’ll need to create your profile, or what usually ends up being your “home page” on each of the sites you’re going to participate in.
Each social network is different, but whenever possible, you’ll want to add particulars about your business, like your location and contact information. Some let you add more information about your business or even photos and video.
Once you “move in” to a social network, it’s time to get to know the neighbours. Making friends takes time and effort, but if they can help get the word out about your business, it’s an investment that really pays off.
It’s important to know that while you may be using social media for business gains, it’s a very different medium than your typical advertising channels. The people you interact with on social media don’t want to just to be “talked at.” Think of it more as a conversation - a give-and-take relationship that ebbs and flows. Treat this network as you would your friends and colleagues in the real world.
Making friends on social media won’t happen overnight, and it can’t be forced. Start by recruiting existing customers, maybe with a sign in your shop that says “Follow us here” or—even better—a 10% discount if they connect with you online.
Follow that up with other ways to grow your network: contests, special events, members-only offers, entertaining content, or even real, face-to-face meet-ups for members of your social circles.
And remember, every member of your social network has a network of their own. Social media is all about sharing, so as you add posts and photos and get involved in conversations, it’s easy for people to connect with you. And that means more eyeballs on you and your business.
Social media is a great way to start a conversation with people and ultimately grow your customer base. And just like anything else in the online space, you’ll need a plan.
If you follow along with the rest of our videos, we’re going to cover what kinds of social networks are out there, and how to build your presence on them. Then we’ll talk about creating and managing a plan for social media. And if you’re really into social, we’ll even talk about paid advertising on social sites, and how to measure your success with social.
Social media is everywhere, and people engage with it every day. Learn what it is and how you can take advantage of these networks by:
- understanding why you need to be there
- joining the right social media sites
- growing your presence and engaging with your networks.