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Things You Must Do If You Want Your Business to Take Off
As a leader of your business, you are a trusted subject matter expert. Your customers, staff, and even industry peers rely on your expertise. You share your knowledge with customers on the phone and in person. You dedicate time to teaching and training employees, and maybe you have even "nurtured" customers with helpful content on your business website.
If you haven't done so by now, it's time to use your knowledge to expand your network of valuable allies and friends. Form connections and build communities with people who have shared interests, need your expertise, products, and services, and can promote your business online.
What you've heard about social media for business is true; the only thing more powerful than what you know is who you know. There are 3.5 billion active social media users worldwide, and that number continues to grow. Social media users are people who want to be known. Contrary to what you might believe, leveraging Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and a variety of social platforms isn't just about creating a feeling of goodwill. It's about driving more revenue through better prospecting and stronger relationships.
Here are five ways to make your social platforms work for your business:
1. Identify the right platforms for your customer base. Each social platform has a distinct set of capabilities. Identify which channels (e.g., Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram) that meet your purposes and appeal to your customers. Facebook is the market leader, with 68% of U.S. adults on the platform. Find out where they are most active online. If your customers are tweeting regularly about problems, take on the role of subject matter expert in these conversations, and provide answers. If your biggest competitors are promoting offers and getting "likes" on Facebook, test offers using Facebook Ads.
Mobile usage of social media keeps growing, with 91% of all social media users accessing social channels via mobile devices, and 80% of total time spent on social media occurring on mobile platforms. Make sure that your content looks good on mobile, which means short video content, and short text posts.
2. Develop your unique persona. You're a business owner or manager, but you're not just representing your products and services. Your personality and expertise are assets that add value to your company. Indeed, YOU are someone that your market can embrace, and they will love your company even more when they do.
But what is your personality? Are you insightful, witty, or humorous? Are you a passionate advocate for a better way of doing things? Are you an industry innovator who is always a step ahead of your peers? Ask yourself these questions to identify your persona and use your photograph in virtual communities like Facebook Groups to invite people to connect with you.
3. Connect via online communities and provide useful content. Social platforms have become a viable way to demonstrate products and services and educate audiences. Consider that 54% of social browsers use social media to research products, and 73% of marketers believe social media marketing has been "somewhat effective" or "very effective" for their businesses. Now that social platforms are expected to deliver on the promise of useful research, educational content, including customer success stories on Instagram and Facebook posts and Tweets linking to valuable content, are essential to your customer experience. Consider that 71% of consumers who have had a positive experience with a brand on social media are likely to recommend the brand to friends and family.
In every market ECI serves, there are online communities of people that discuss industry-specific concerns. Prioritize the communities that are most relevant and most active in your industry, and join them. Use them to share information and news with other subject matter experts and thought leaders, as well as customers. Before you participate in communities like specific LinkedIn Groups, it's important to understand their unique cultures and ways of interacting. Ease your way in with a helpful intent; groups reject outsiders who appear to have agendas.
4. Engage people with visual content. Engaging content works; social media users spend an average of three hours per day on social networks and messaging. Add value to your relationships by provoking thought, starting and contributing to dialogues, seeking and lending expertise, and (when you have established credibility) promoting your solutions. Use visual content on your social platforms, including videos, memes, and infographics. Visual content is excellent for generating attention and engagement, especially video. Consider these statistics:
Use the connections you've formed with other influencers in your industry to extend your reach. For example, connect with bloggers and ask them to embed your videos in their posts as value-added content. Once you have collected more than a hundred followers on Twitter, announce a flash sale on your website. In every communication, use your persona to brand yourself as well as your business.
5. Monitor your platforms for interest, influencing, and engagement. Now that you're engaged in social media monitor all of the interactions on your platforms. Note the communications that are generating the most interest and engagement, and build on your successes. Incentivize the people who provide positive reviews online. Remember that 49% of consumers depend on influencer recommendations on social media, and 40% of people purchase an item after they see a social media influencer use it. The more you monitor and learn from your activities, the more you will increase your ROI for the time you invest in social media.
Given that much of what you do to generate interest on social media is free, the payoff for leveraging these best practices can be significant. And given that we are all social creatures by nature, you may find that your investment in social media pays off in other unexpected ways.
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About the Author