In this week’s blog post we’re going to explore the rise and rise of social media and how best to put it to good use for your business, whilst at the same time making you aware of the pitfalls.
Social media platforms have seen an incredible rise in usage over the last few years – Facebook alone now has 850 million active users worldwide and 11 new Twitter accounts are opened every second. Some of you will already be using one or more of these channels to promote your business, others of you are just happy to let your employees update their personal Facebook page during worktime.
Whatever your approach to social media, it’s good to know the do’s and don’ts of using them and which simple steps you can take to protect your business.
So why is social media good for business?
Here are just some of the many clever reasons why social media can be great for business:
- Brand promotion and marketing – it can give you the chance to put your brand and corporate message across to the people you want to reach.
- Networking – it allows you to build up connections with other businesses and professionals in the same or related fields.
- Recruitment – nowadays, if you’re looking to take on any new members of staff, they will have not only looked at your website but also checked out your social media pages to see what level of engagement you have with customers
- Affordable advertising – compared to traditional, more expensive advertising routes such as print or TV, online advertising can be a lot more cost effective. You have the option to display your advert to a certain demographic, ensuring you reach your specific target audience.
Looking out for those pitfalls
We’ve looked at the reasons why social media can work for your business in the right way, but without wanting to stop you in your tracks before you’ve even started, we thought we’d point out a few grey areas to be aware of:
- Platform overload – small businesses, in particular, suffer from a lack of time and money for social media activities. Choosing to be on too many social media platforms can make matters worse when you’re already hard-pressed for time, so don’t try to be everywhere!
- Too much promotion – social media is all about building relationships with your customers, by engaging in a conversation with them. They will start to switch off if the majority of your content is about promoting your business.
- Monitoring comments – if you invite users to post comments on your social media sites then you need to check carefully what they’re saying. These comments might be seen by your customers and employees and they might not make attractive reading.
- What your employees are saying about you – the casual nature of social networking can lead employees to sometimes inadvertently disclose confidential information (about your business or a customer’s) that they wouldn’t normally discuss in more formal communications.
- Protected material – if you or your employees are uploading content onto your social media pages which is copyright or trademark protected, you could find yourself breaching someone’s intellectual property rights.
Championing the ‘middle of the road’ approach
There isn’t one single rule for businesses when using social media. All businesses are different in terms of what products or services they’re selling, and how their market operates. Social media isn’t really about ‘selling’ but it is about sales. It’s about you taking a different approach to selling, so your customers build up trust with you and your brand – you’ll then find they’ll come back to you time and time again.
We think that you can enjoy the best of worlds, a ‘middle of the road’ approach – identifying those parts of social media which will work for your business but avoiding the areas which could cause you hassle. Here are some clever tips to remember:
- It’s good to have a strategy for how your business wants to use social media, so you have something you can (hopefully) stick to and your employees know what the purpose is and where they stand.
- Be sure to respond to comments and questions posed by customers – interaction is the key here (see our last blog post for an insight into this)
- Remain true to the spirit of social media interaction by posting interesting content which will encourage people to follow you.
- Use your existing followers as advocates of your brand. It’s been proved that people are more likely to become fans of a company or brand if a friend or family member has passed on information or shared a link.
- If you’re committed to engaging with your customers through social media, then allocate enough time (and the staff if necessary) to do it properly.
- Make sure you don’t lose sight of your overall brand message and apply this consistently across all your channels (website, blog and social media).
And finally… be patient! Try and resist the urge to want fast results from launching your business’s social media pages. An effective strategy takes a bit of time and it’s good to look at the longer term picture. You might come across the odd negative comment but instead of taking this to heart, learn from what a customer is saying and make tweaks to your practices if you need to. After all, it’s building the relationship that is key!
For more information about our Social Media Management services, get in touch with Clever Business Websites now!