Social media has changed the way we connect with people and information over the last few years. Relationships are formed with not only friends and family on Facebook, but with prospective customers too. Twitter now provides firsthand account-breaking news from anywhere in the world and houses data that, when analyzed, can predict possibly vital trends for your business. LinkedIn can provide your business with the next contact to solidify future business. In keeping the old adage, “It’s not just what you know but also who you know that matters” in mind, technology makes connecting with others, building relationships and sharing information easier than ever before.
Not surprisingly, more and more small and medium-size businesses are jumping on the social media bandwagon. A recent study conducted by the Bank of Montreal found that 57% of small businesses now use social in an attempt to drum up future business. Their challenge, however, is how to properly harness social media to their benefit. To help, here are a few social media best practices to consider when interacting online on behalf of your business.
Know your goals
Take into consideration what you’d like to achieve through social. Who are you trying to connect with? How far of a market do you wish to reach? What social platform would best serve your goal? While both Twitter and LinkedIn have become a great business-to-business venue, Facebook has become a great community to possibly rally behind your offering.
Conversing over promoting
Historically, traditional media has been a flurry of sales pitches and markdowns aimed at the consumer to buy a specific product or service. Social media allows businesses to connect with consumers about what matters to them most – whether it is a product or service. Social also provides the business the ability to escape the heartless “Tin Man” persona by addressing related issues and speaking directly with the customer in new ways.
Social media has been a great venue for those to share like minds and passions. On social, consumer comments can provide new insights relating to your target market and is an opportunity to develop evangelists – consumers that will organically promote your product or service on your behalf. This can only be conveyed by sharing your passion and knowledge with them through their conversation. Practice enabling those participating in the conversation through your offering instead of simply pitching your offering.
One of the biggest challenges, especially for small and medium-size businesses, is collaborating social media efforts internally. Once a common social interaction goal has been established, communication is key to ensure your team or organization is in sync and all efforts are effective and defined, especially if there are multiple social accounts. While traditional email can provide some small amounts of team alignment, there are other tools like Yammer. Tactics could be planned and collaborated on amidst one’s organization by using tools like Yammer and then be assigned to a team member to be acted on. All efforts can be viewed internally to help track activity, gather real-time feedback and collaboration, and ensure the organization’s message is on target.
Social media can be a powerful tool for any size business. While patience is needed to ensure a sustainable audience, if harnessed correctly, your business’s presence could flourish and become a valid contributor to your target community. Enabling and empowering a community can prove fruitful and can in turn grow your business, if done correctly.