Who is Your Business on Social Media?
Social media is an effective marketing tool for businesses because it connects us with potential clients, cements existing relationships and provides the opportunity to showcase products or services in a greater way than other types of marketing. As a result it can be very effective at generating new clients and creating a positive, professional image. However, sometimes we can interact very differently as a business on social media compared to our face to face and verbal interactions with clients, which ultimately has an impact on its effectiveness. Here are some areas where your business may be acting different on social media:
Responding to comments
You’re probably already responding to people who message you direct on social media (unless you’ve identified it as spam) but are you responding to all comments you receive on your posts? Think of it like this – if a customer was standing in front of you and said something it would seem very odd if you didn’t respond back in some way. Similar to messages you do need to be wary of spam but responding whenever someone posts a genuine comment will show that you appreciate their support and that there’s a real person behind your social media account. Sometimes the comment requires a written response (especially if it’s a question) and sometimes it’s just clicking the Like button next to it, but both types of responses will show that you’re paying attention to your followers and will encourage more comments as a result (which can help in terms of your social media reach).
Keeping an eye on content
Social media allows you to post information quickly as new products or services are launched, new information becomes available or particular events occur. This means that you can react quickly to what’s happening in the marketplace or send out simple alerts such as when you’re having IT issues or need to advise about leave periods such as Xmas. However, if you’re outsourcing the posting to someone else or scheduling a number of posts at the start of each week mistakes can be made sometimes in terms of the timing. For example, a promotion that’s past its due date, wishing people Happy Easter a week after it’s been, posting a picture of your stand at an exhibition and inviting people to visit you, even though the event was last weekend. If someone is posting on your behalf make sure they’re given guidance on timing of posts or they may simply work their way through the content provided and posts can end up on the wrong day or time as a result. If you’re scheduling posts yourself then any changes that occur throughout the week can also suddenly make a post out of date, so be mindful of what’s scheduled to go out every day. Following your own social media business accounts is a good way to monitor this or consider diarising a couple of minutes each day to check what’s scheduled and make any changes as needed. When you post relevant content on the relevant day it creates the impression of a professional business that can be relied on to do things well and who’s in touch with what’s happening.
Making sure the photos reflect your business
Sometimes generic marketing type photos are used to illustrate posts but if you really want to create a connection and a level of trust with people it’s important that the photos are a true reflection of your business. Think of it this way – if someone visited your business or contacted you and there was an actor in your place it would seem very strange. However, this is essentially what you’re doing when you show photos of other people acting in your place whenever describing yourself or your business. People appreciate knowing exactly who they’re dealing with because it creates a level of trust and can help them decide whether to choose your business. Displaying photos of your local area is also a good strategy, as many people prefer to deal with businesses conveniently located in their area and when you share the same location it can make people feel like they already know you too (which again helps to create trust).
Interacting with others
Social media isn’t just about interacting with followers on your page, it’s about liking and commenting on other people’s pages as well. When you comment on other people’s posts that you find appealing or informative they will value your support (and personally I think we should all support each other’s businesses in this way). It’s also an opportunity for new people to see you which may prompt them to visit your page and connect with you as a result. Think of it this way – when you’re at a networking event sometimes the best way to make new connections is to go up to and talk to someone you already know who can introduce you to others in their group. Interacting with other pages may also present opportunities to work together as fellow businesses, especially when your service or product naturally compliments each other (eg: a venue and an event planning company). And if you’re actively looking for some new business connections or a particular service or product then viewing other business pages is a great way for you to confirm which ones might be a fit for you.
Showing a consistent presence on your social media pages by regular posting, responding to messages and comments and interacting with others, shows that you’re an active business. In contrast a social media account that has long inconsistent gaps between posts and a low (or non existent) response rate to messages and comments is somewhat like a shop with its door open and nobody behind the counter – it doesn’t convey an image of a successful business. Understandably it can be challenging at times to constantly design and post content, especially if it’s something you do in addition to everything else. However, try not to put too much pressure on yourself about the number of posts, as even one post a week will show a level of consistency and if you need to take a break from posting let people know in a post (including when you’ll be back again.)
Mixing business and personal
Whilst it’s important to showcase everything you do in your business your page also needs to have a little personality too. Think of this way – when you meet a client in person the discussion isn’t all business. There will be a friendly greeting, some general discussion in between talking about your service or product and at the end a thank you and a goodbye. When you do this with clients either face to face or on the phone it helps establish the client relationship by creating an enjoyable, easy interaction with them and it’s just the same on social media. People often need to know a little more about who’s behind the business to decide whether to choose that particular business over others. This doesn’t mean sharing very personal items (as there still needs to be a level of professionalism and protection of your own privacy) but you can share content such as promoting fellow businesses you work with, local events, charity involvement, an inspiring quote, a client story (when a client is willing to share their experiences of your service or product) a business milestone, holiday events, interesting photos of your local area etc. – all of which will help to create a more wholistic impression of your business and make the page more interesting.
Asking a question
Whilst it can be very easy to simply post content and not seek any interaction with your followers, seeking interaction is the best way to make some real connections. Asking a question after sharing content in a post is one way to do this, especially if it can help highlight additional ways you can assist potential customers. For example, our X can really help you reduce the time you spend cleaning, what’s your biggest challenge when it comes to cleaning your home? Social media may also be a good forum to ask for feedback, however, be aware that this is the same as any feedback you seek – you need to be open to whatever comes back and respond accordingly. Sometimes this means simply thanking the person in the comments section and sometimes (if it’s an issue that needs to be dealt with) it requires acknowledgment of the feedback and letting them know you’ll be in contact privately to address it. As feedback on your social media will be seen by everyone viewing your page, it’s important that you acknowledge all feedback so that it shows that you’re a business that listens and responds to its clients and followers.
Thanking customers and other supporters of your business periodically is a lovely, positive thing to do. For example, reaching a business milestone, thanking clients for their support throughout the year, acknowledging the support of a valued business partner, thanking people for their patience during a busy period or an IT issue, etc. People appreciate being acknowledged and for those new people viewing your account (who don’t already know you) it helps to highlight your business in a very positive way.
Social media is like any other social interaction with people in your business you need to respond when they reach out to you, make it easy for them to connect with you and show them exactly who you are as a business in a professional and positive way. Make sure that the quality of your interactions on social media are the same as they would be in person and that everyone else in your business who interacts on your social media pages is aware of this too. If you do this it will create a positive and professional image that will help generate results and you may even find some valuable new business connections and friends too!
Photo credit: iStock.com/oatawa