With the birth of social media, businesses have a golden opportunity to not only reach out and talk to their customers but to listen to them as well. Companies can get feedback from consumers, correct problems or issues and even suggestions on improving a product or a new one.
Before diving into social media pool, it is so important to have a plan or strategy so that there is no confusion or mistakes made. You need to understand how you want to use the social media and which social media sites to use.
So what types of social media sites are available for your use? Photo sharing, video sharing, podcasts (both audio and video), message boards, char rooms, social networking sites and of course, blogging.
If you have a person who will be dealing with social media, it is vital that they are professional whenever they go online and interact on behave of the business. It can be incredibly difficult to respond calmly and professional to incendiary comments or posts. They must remain personable without taking anything personally. It is always a good thing to remember that anything posted on the internet, no matter how quickly it is removed, will probably have been seen by someone, so think before responding. Spelling can also make the different between a professional business or one that is not.
Any interaction is an opportunity to shine a good light on your business. While positive praise is good, it is how you deal with the negative that shows what kind of business you run. Never ignore a post / comment / email. Respond positively, try to find why the response is negative, and how you can resolve it. Going out of your way to fix something say that you care about your customers. If you are comfortable doing so, give your name when responding. There is a reason why, when you phone a call center, the person on the other end of the phone gives you their name.
Do not lie, ever, through social media. If you don’t know, say that and then find out the answer or solution. Lies have a habit of coming back to haunt you.
Social media is the perfect way to advertise, especially for no money and just a little effort. If it is good enough for Ford, Coca Cola and countless others, it is good enough for you.
It is important to control your expectations when starting to use social media for business. You are not going to suddenly gain 10,000 followers or friends in a week. Like a local band, it takes time to build up a following.
If you are unsure about the technical side of social media, Google is your best friend. You need to understand the pros and cons of each social media platform. Facebook, Twitter, Google +, LinkedIn etc. There are ways to repost or copy something from one social media site to another automatically. Double the result for half the effort.
As well as social media websites, local blogs such as the St. Thomas blog, and websites can help you raise your brand awareness. To show your knowledge and expertise in your business, write an article, or a series of articles demonstrating your skills and knowledge. You don’t want to give away trade secrets but you want to make sure anyone who reads your words understands that you know what you are talking about. Don’t oversell yourself, mention your business once in the opening paragraph and then don’t mention it again until the end where you can write a little about yourself and your business.
Social media is a great way for a new business to get its products known.