Every small business has a need to promote products and services, build a brand, develop a network of customers (present and potential), and to make sales flow through. It was like that since trade started and it continues to be so.
It’s just that the way trade is done today has changed considerably. Blame the constant onslaught of marketing messages that consumers got immune to or the fact that customers now have a way to double check on every claim, gain information to make wise decisions, put in requests on their social networks for customized advice, and to do their own “due diligence” before purchasing.
That and the numerous other options available have made it so much harder for businesses to promote and sell. It’s only going to get tougher. If you own a business and if you are banking on social media to get you results, here are a few things you should know:
1. Don’t Walk Blind Into Social Media
“Social media is a huge time sucking bucket”
“I don’t know. I spend half a day on social and all I see is content sharing and a few random conversations”
“Social gets business? You got to be kidding me”
Those are common laments you get to hear today, and none of them are right. Social media isn’t a time sucking bucket. It’s not just about sharing content and “random conversations”. Social does get you business. You did hear about social selling, haven’t you?
It’s crucial to decide what you want to achieve from social media. Do you want to build your brand? Those small conversations are all you need then.
Do you want to build up a veritable network and give you a reach that shames traditional media? You should focus on ways to build your network then (doing whatever it takes).
Do you need sales from social media? There are ways to make that happen provided you do just the right things at the right time — the key being relationships.
If anything goes, then you are doing social media the wrong way.
2. Serve People First, and Never Pitch
Social media is the last place on earth for you to market, promote, or push your wares. It’s just not a system designed for this purpose. Social media is about building relationships. It’s about building a network. It’s from this strong and trusted network that sales might or might not happen. It’s about social proof tumbling into your cash register.
To build such a network, you have to be a giver. Give away information, insights, information, and even point to your competitors (if you have to) before you make any requests for signing up for newsletters, visiting product pages, or asking for a direct sale.
3. Be Different Or Disappear
Gone are the days when you just had to compete for sales. As more businesses work feverishly to work up their social media presence, you now have competition just for eyeballs and attention.
If you have to do that, you just have to be different. Find a voice; espouse a new way to interact with others on social networks, and make having conversations with others on social networks a part of your marketing strategy. It’s quirky to think that “conversations” that seem to be going nowhere should now be a part of your marketing mix, but that’s how the Internet — and especially social media – is evolving.
4. Using Technology Is Imperative
You can’t get into manual mode for social management today. There’s technology available and it’s here for a reason.
You have such as getsatisfaction and Qhub to help create communities. Apps such as HootSuite and Buffer for Business help you manage multiple social media accounts (so the “time suck” lament goes right out of the window).
For every sale that originates from any of the social channels, you have powerful CRM tools available such as Nimble CRM to help you track conversations, leads and then sales. You also have tools for social signals, social metrics, and social reports.
Using tools helps you leverage your social efforts, allow you to focus on your business, and also manage your time spent on social media.
Don’t post another update on social or respond to your network without any of these tools.
5. It’s Not About Updates; It’s About Value
Every time you want to upload an update on social, think about this:
“What do my followers or fans get out of this?” or
“Can this update or piece of information help engage them better? ”
In case you haven’t noticed, there’s a paradigm shift in the approach you are about to take. It’s not even about your business, products, services, or brand anymore. It always was, is, and will be about value. As long as you provide value, you’ll be able to make social media work for you.
6. Conversions = Cash
Hard to believe but it’s true. It’s like this: conversions lead to relationships. Who and how many people you know (thanks to the fact that social helps you scale up) add to the reach. Further, conversions on social media aren’t private. They are public and are often amplified. Every #hashtag triggered conversation on social media (especially Twitter and Google+) amplifies your conversation based on topics. The more you have conversations, the more you’ll be heard. People notice your brand. They’ll follow you.
Every fan or follower is worth gold.
7. Consistency Is the Key
All too often, businesses step up to social channels and then recede. They have bursts of activity and they vanish. Consistency on social media is vital. In fact, just staying active begins to get you fans and followers even without promoting or hustling.
It’s another matter how hard you want to work at the social hustle to get more fans and followers. It’s hard to stay consistent. It’s hard to share tons of content that you – and others – create. It’s hard to maintain conversations with strangers. It seems stupid to spend all the time on social never knowing what actually brings in the sale.
Yet, that’s the way it is. There’s “social” in social media.
How is social media working for you? What do you think businesses should keep in mind before venturing in – arms and legs included?