Social media can be a very powerful marketing tool for your business. It isn’t like traditional media that can reach a wide audience with a one-way message. Rather, it has the potential to reach a wide audience through virality and even allows your audience to interact with you and each other. And there are many ways you can use this to your advantage too. Here are just a few.
One of the biggest mistakes you can make as a business is to treat social media like traditional mass media, which is a one-way form of communication. Your audience will often engage you and keep in mind that every engagement should be considered an opportunity to grow your brand. Entrepreneur.com highlights an example of this:
One of the best things a small business can do online, specifically with social media, is to listen and engage with their audience — and that doesn’t require a big brand. Pittsburgh’s Franktuary, a popular hot dog shop with three locations, embodies this practice across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and its blog. Everything from its weekly #TuesdayTrivia hashtag series to consistently answering questions and feedback from their audience in a friendly tone helps Franktuary connect with its customers providing a behind-the-scenes look into its delicious dishes it’s making every day. If you’re a small business, take note of its hustle.
Embrace Scheduling Software
You might not already know this, but there are certain times of the day where people are more likely to be online checking their feeds and possibly reading your posts or tweets. So obviously, it would make sense to time your posts and tweets according to these times. Guy Bergstrom discusses this more in depth:
Just like it’s smart to pitch reporters and editors mid-morning, that happens to look like the best time to post to your blog and sent tweets. This makes sense: earlier in the morning, they’re getting ready for work and driving. Around noon, they’re having lunch. Afternoons are for finishing things up, then they’re driving home and having dinner. After dinner, actually, traffic spikes back up, but not as much as in the morning.
However, this isn’t always true for every demographic, and you need to analyze past social media analytics to determine which times of day your audience was more likely to interact with anything you posted online. You can use Insights on Facebook pages to make it easy to filter out this data, while Tweriod has a free option for its service that analyzes when your Twitter followers are usually online and when they are more likely to engage with your tweets.
Once you’ve had a taste of the freedom that scheduling software can give you, you’ll probably want to automate even more things. And there is a ton of things you can automate, such as distributing one post across several different social networks, auto-posting a thought for the day, and anything else to that nature. However, your audience can quickly tune things like that out, making them increasingly less effective as you continue to use it. SocialMediaWeek.org has this to say:
If your posts appear too automated or look like spam, your efforts could actually drive consumers away. Software that lets you post to multiple sites at once can be a good way to get your personal message out to a wider audience, but automating your social media strategy further can be dangerous. The reason social media is so effective is because of its human touch – lose that and you could just be spinning your wheels.
The point that needs to be driven here is the importance of that human touch. Don’t underestimate your audience’s ability to distinguish when you’re being genuine or just posting another canned response.
Be Especially Keen for Famous Personalities Who Follow You
It pays to know who follows your social media accounts, especially if it’s someone who is recognized and respected. It could be the town mayor, the college dean, or a popular celebrity who happens to make their home there a few times a year. Keep tabs on them and respond to them when they engage you. And never pass on the opportunity to really impress them, such as this special scenario told by Peter Shankman on Entrepreneur.com:
A hungry man who likes steak (me) jokingly tweets to Morton’s Steakhouse that he’s landing at Newark in two hours, would they please bring him a Porterhouse. He tweets it the same way you’d tweet ‘Dear Winter, please stop snowing.’ To his utter surprise and delight, a waiter is waiting at the airport with a Porterhouse when he lands. The now no longer hungry man goes home and writes a blog post about the event, which immediately goes viral, resulting in millions of dollars of free publicity for Morton’s. The restaurant kept the story alive long after the steak had been digested by offering smaller ‘moments of magic’ to its now ballooning Twitter followers and Facebook fans. Moral? More often than not, you, as a small business, have the opportunity to let OTHERS do your own marketing.
Hire a Social Media Expert So You Can Do What You Do Best
Managing multiple social network accounts can be a handful, especially if it isn’t your thing. Sure, you can go to websites like this one and look for tips that you can use, but it’s also keeping you from managing the core business, developing new products or services and basically forcing yourself to do something other than what you are best at. SocialMediaWeek.org advises that you:
…hire a specialist to streamline and maximize your social media efforts. To find someone reputable, ask peers in your industry and other business owners outside of it for recommendations. Also ask the candidate to provide detail on specific campaigns run for other businesses, including results.
Social media management isn’t necessarily hard, but it’s the kind of thing where you have to maintain a certain level of focus and consistency, reaching out and interacting with your audience and making them feel that they matter. Unless it’s something you can work into a few minutes of your day, it’s best to outsource it to a specialist.