Social Media: How Can it Help My Business?
So you’ve become a tech-friendly company. You have a website, you’re accepting emails and inquiries from potential customers, and heck, you’re even on yellowbook.com. You’ve got the web world by the tail, right? Well, not really. Your current efforts are worth commendation no doubt, but there’s one large piece of the pie that’s missing from your web presence: social media. Leveraging the power of the connectivity on the Internet these days is something all businesses should do, from the largest Fortune 500 to the smallest corner store. The question now is, “Before I dive into this social media whirlwind, in what ways will it actually benefit my company to be on social media?” Here are just a few.
1. Free company exposure.
First thing I would like to point out, is that the major social media outlets are free to join. That’s right, no money out of your pocket to start up! Just a bit of time investment, of course. And if you’re a small business, you can appreciate that even more. For starters, the exposure lets potential customers know you exist. And what exposure, you might ask? Well here’s a look at the numbers:
Facebook: 1.23 billion active users
Twitter: 252 million active users
Google+: 500 million registered users (not all active)
Instagram: 90 million active users
Naturally, you’re most likely not gonna reach all of those users. But even a handful would be an improvement. If even one person on social media knows you exist, you’re already ahead. If they like your Facebook presence, they’re liable to start creating word of mouth buzz about you, especially if they are local users (“Hey, I saw on Facebook that a pizza place is down this street. Have you tried it out?”). This is a form of viral marketing, and one you would be wise to utilize! More exposure means more curiosity about your company, which in turn leads to more visits and customer conversions.
Simply being on the social media outlets gives you credibility as well. When is the last time you saw a phony scamming company creating a page on Facebook? Fact is, they often don’t. Because they know their page is likely to either get slammed by customer/user reviews and potentially be taken down by Facebook itself. When social media users see that you have taken the time to establish a presence whereby you can inform, advertise and interact with the world, they’re more likely to see you as trustworthy. And trust is an indispensable ally in converting prospective customers to paying customers.
2. Inform Prospective Customers
Beyond the magic of interacting with the many users of social media (which we will discuss specifically in the next section), it also serves as a great vehicle to inform your customers of your business. Facebook pages are set up with an ‘About’ section, that gives potential customers all the info they will need to either research you, contact you, or stop in and pay you a visit. Similarly, Twitter and Google+ have very succinct and efficient ‘About’ areas. If you’re lucky, users will want to learn more, and will follow the link to your website from your social media page and potentially contact you from there.
A nice feature that Facebook pages have is the ability to add apps to your company page. These apps can extend the functionality of your Facebook page (add signup forms, music player, etc) so that you can further engage your visitors. Yes, the passive features of social media will help you inform your audience, but nothing compares to your impact on interacting with your visitors. This informs your prospective customers about how you conduct business (how is your service recovery? Do you respond to inquiries often? Are you friendly and fun?), and we will be discussing interactivity in the next section.
3. Interacting with your Audience
By far, the best tool you have when it comes to social media, is interacting with your audience. This is a huge piece of the puzzle, and one that you should pay careful attention to. After all, the way a company handles questions, comments or concerns can have long-lasting impact on how a potential customer sees and feels about your company.
So, let’s get to the basics. For one, it’s important to be friendly and helpful. The more open you are to answering questions or addressing concerns, the more likely it is that you can establish trust not only with the curious visitor, but with all other visitors that witness this cyber interaction. If they see you are kind, receptive and warm, they will immediately associate that with how you conduct your business (outside of the web realm too), which is a great thing! Remember, establishing trust and credibility is the best thing you can do, so make sure to take advantage of every opportunity.
Second, make sure to answer inquiries and address concerns in a timely manner. Potential customers may shy away from using your services or products because they may feel like you are disorganized, inefficient or simply apathetic regarding the customer’s concerns. Responding in a caring and timely manner will surely garner a positive sentiment towards your company.
Thirdly, have fun with your audience! Make sure to engage them in posts (“who is ready for summer out there? We know we are! *insert picture of beach here*) and give them good reason to follow you! Relevance is key. Users are more likely to stay involved and engaged if you give them what they’re looking for, whether it be good content or even good promos and sales for your company (which you should definitely do!). Some Facebook pages I ‘Like’ use such tactics as giving you local news, playing a game with their users, or doing contests. These are all effective ways to interact with your users. I will spare you the in-depth look at these strategies for now (but will likely put it in another article).
Bottom line, the best thing you can do is establish trust and credibility for your company. Having visitors like or follow your page, make positive comments, Q&A, and generally interact with you will certainly help you get the exposure and positive sentiments that your company needs. In this world of social media and web interactivity, make sure that your company stays on the cutting edge of customer service and establishes that sought after credibility and trust that separates good companies from great ones.