There’s Facebook. And Twitter. And LinkedIn. And YouTube.
A few years ago, that Big 4 was enough on its own to keep business owners busy with managing their social media accounts.
Then, a whole new crop of platforms arrived on the scene. Instagram and its influencers, Snapchat and its streaks, TikTok and whatever people do on that and every other new platform that continues to spring up and attract attention.
When you’re a business owner who is busy running a store or restaurant or managing projects for your clients, adding social media management on top of all your other responsibilities can feel daunting.
Many people choose to partner with social media management firms to create content that attracts customers and prospective customers and encourages them to interact with their business.
However, if that’s not an option for you at the moment, there’s still plenty you can do to grow a social media following on your own as you grow your business. After all, with almost half the global population now connected on social media, there’s plenty of fish in the digital sea just waiting to learn about your business and how it can benefit them.
Be where your audience is.
You don’t have to maintain a social media presence on every single platform. If you do, you might not get anything else done!
Instead, think about where the customers you want to attract tend to spend their social media minutes. Then, dedicate your efforts there.
For example, the beautiful new 500 Pearl complex has so much to offer the city of Buffalo. Its social media connections are focused on building community, through highly visual channels like Facebook and Instagram.
If a business chooses to expand its social media presence, looking for places where they can share great, relevant content will differ for each type of company – an accountant may get more business from LinkedIn connections, while a salon or boutique may want to consider highlighting styling techniques via a YouTube channel.
Recognize that people are visual.
It can be worthwhile to invest time and money into good images for social media. People are visual and love being able to scroll through posts and find something that catches their eye; visual content is shared 40 times more often than traditional text content.
You don’t have to purchase an extremely expensive camera to get great social media images; many phones have excellent camera technology and also offer apps that can be used to do simple editing.
In addition, stock photos and simple image creation tools like Canva can make social media content creation more accessible for busy business owners than ever before.
Use third-party advocates.
If your business depends on a high volume of customers coming into your location, recognize that they’ll probably Google you first, whether to check hours, look at a menu or find an address.
Once they do, online reviews and customer impressions abound. And, customers tend to trust these reviews more than they trust advertising; 92 percent of people are more likely to believe a testimonial than an ad.
Spending a little time on encouraging positive reviews in this space can make a lot of sense. Ways to build up your online visibility through reviews include:
● Posting signage in your storefront locations that request reviews on social platforms including Facebook, Yelp and other industry-specific channels.
● Sending emails to customers after a transaction and asking them to give you an honest online review.
● Responding to customers who comment online, whether their remarks are negative or positive. If they’re negative, you have an opportunity to resolve them and to turn a detractor into an advocate. If they’re positive, your grateful response will help to cement their lifetime loyalty.
Another great thing about online reviews? They tell prospective customers why you’re worth it better than your advertising dollars ever could. For example, check out this review from a customer at 1 Delaware’s SPoT Coffee location: “One of my favorite places to hang out. Every time I walk in, the staff greets me. Highly recommend this location. Great beverages and the oatmeal is great! Also, very fast Wi-Fi and a quiet location to get work done.”
In just a few words, this customer reassures others considering this location that it’s comfortable, is a great remote work option and offers both good food and good customer service. That’s enough to make anyone want to stop in for a visit!
Keep customer service a priority.
No matter how sleek and shiny your social media images are, or how funny and engaging you make your posts, you’re not going to be perfect. If a customer has a bad experience and brings their grievances to social media, try to think of the page as an extension of real life.
How would you manage the customer if they were sharing their complaints in your store or restaurant? Give them the same transparent, respectful treatment online that you would if they approached you via a more traditional channel.
And remember, online is forever. If you have a negative conversation with a customer online, they’re not the only ones who see it – so does everyone who comes across your page. The good news? The same goes for a positive interaction – the evidence of your care for customers will be front-and-center for potential customers and clients to see days, weeks and months into the future.
If you’re wondering whether you should use social media for your business, the answer is generally yes. After all, your customers are there and talking about you – you need to make sure you’re part of the conversation.