You've probably seen the flashing lights and heard the emergency warnings by now about the importance of social media: You absolutely need to have a Facebook and/or Twitter account going forward if you want to be able to compete.
Yes, it's true that you will need to implement some form of social marketing strategies, but keep in mind that's far from the entire truth.
Social strategies can affect your sales - both ways
Whether you're a social media fanatic or not, chances are a large portion of your customer base is.
Social networking sites, from the aforementioned Facebook and Twitter to Instagram and Pinterest, have essentially become regular mediums of communication. People use them to stay in touch with relatives, friends who have moved away, former colleagues and, apparently, their favorite brands.
A recent survey found that social media marketing and customer service strategies are becoming interconnected. Around two in five consumers between the ages of 18 and 49 interact with companies via social networking sites, and among the "highly satisfied" customers, 87 percent of respondents said that positive interactions through these platforms increased the chances that they would make a purchase.
On the flip side, the survey found that companies that do not engage their customers on social media could lose out on current and potential business.
The dos and do nots of social media
How then can small business marketing teams, which typically have lower budgets to work with, incorporate social networking sites into their advertising strategies?
Whenever you decide to set up a social networking page, you should treat it as importantly as you would any traditional customer service and marketing medium. In other words, either do it well, or don't do it at all.
And since you pretty much have to adopt social marketing campaigns, let's go over some of the dos and do nots:
- Do: Respond to every single complaint, inquiry and question publicly. Because everything on social media is out there, you want customers to see that you're handling every issue, both big and small. The response can be as simple as a "like," "favorite" or "thank you for your input," but you need to give one.
- Do not: Handle sensitive issues in a public manner. While you should respond to disgruntled clients publicly (remember: everyone else is watching), you should follow that up with a private message offering them additional service.
- Do: Respond to people's social media requests in a timely manner. Consumers expect quicker responses on these sites than what they would via email, so answering someones question about last Friday's sale the following Monday probably won't make the shopper too happy.
- Do not: Give canned responses. As I said before, people view social media now as a regular method of communication. You wouldn't give in-store or over-the-phone customers the same monotone reply to every question, so don't do it on Facebook or Twitter.
- Do: Make exchanges as personalized as possible. Use the persons name if possible, be witty and clever when applicable, and change up your responses every time.
Above all else, remember: While you do need a social media marketing strategy, do not implement one unless you intend to go all out with it.