Social Media for business is more than just sending out automated tweets a couple of times a day, linking to your latest blog post on Facebook, or slapping a pretty picture on Pinterest every once in a while. A well-coordinated social media strategy builds brand recognition and loyalty, generates sales leads, and creates a positive connection with the community through consistent and frequent engagement on social media sites.
Benefits of Social Media for Business
Consistent engagement with the different social media communities offers:
an abundance of new ideas
a source of prospective customers and sales leads
opportunities to build brand awareness and nurture brand loyalty
an avenue for business owners to respond to news and events that affect their business, industry or community
Getting Started on Social Media
Before any of the above benefits can be realized, you have to build a following. It will not matter how brilliant your message is, if there is nobody there to read it. This can be a slow process for the majority of businesses, however, there are several ways to speed it up.
Social Sharing Buttons
One of the easiest ways to help grow your social media followers is to include social media buttons on your website. Asking visitors to follow you and to share your content significantly increases engagement.
Contests & Giveaways
Holding a contest or giveaway is one of the most effective ways to build a following on social media. This is also a great way to build buzz about your brand. As people share the contest with friends by email or through their own social media accounts, you will gather more followers on your own accounts.
Several programs exist that can help you build a following on Twitter. Few, if any of these programs come highly recommended since they sometimes run afoul of Twitter’s anti-spam policy.
Another reason to avoid using programs that promise to build a social media following for you overnight, is that the followers may not actually care to engage with your company. They may simply be accounts that always follow back when followed. It may look nice to have a large following on Twitter, but if these names will not help you accomplish your social media strategy, it is best to avoid adding them.
Which Social Media Platforms Are Best?
Most businesses will not need a presence on every social media site. Many businesses do well on Facebook, while others have more success on Twitter or Pinterest. Find out which sites your customers and prospective customers are using and build a following on those sites.
Anatomy of an Effective Social Media Strategy
Maintain Complete & Consistent Account Profiles
Once you’ve decided which social media sites will be part of your strategy, make sure you fill out complete account profiles. Use the same logo or images to represent your business accounts.
Follow Social Media Etiquette
Interact & Engage
After working hard to build a large following, one of the worst things you can do is to ignore the people who want to interact with you on social media. Respond to private messages sent to your business accounts and reply to tweets or Facebook comments that are related to your company in a timely manner.
Thank people for positive comments about your company and keep replies positive if someone says something negative. You might not be able to solve customer service disputes in 140 characters, but a simple, positive reply can show you are listening.
Promote Your Social Media Accounts On and Offline
As mentioned above, social sharing buttons should be included on all of your website’s content, however, you should also include links to your social media accounts in emails and on newsletters. When possible, include links on letterhead and business cards. Don’t forget to always ask for follows, likes and shares.
Share Relevant, Useful Information
Social Media is a great way to promote your business, but followers will soon tune out if that is all you do. Share information that is relevant to your followers and the communities in which they live. Take the opportunity to soften your image by making public service announcements or sharing your company’s philanthropic activities.