Even though typing into a tiny electronic screen may not feel very warm and personal, it’s a fantastic way to make meaningful connections with your clients, future customers, and fans. While nothing can replace an in-person interaction, social media interactions are quickly becoming the most popular means of communication in the marketing world.
Billions of people log in to these platforms on a daily basis, and use these to maintain friendships, follow news, and also make purchasing decisions. People spend an average of 40 minutes per day on Facebook, 21 minutes on Instagram, and 17 minutes on Twitter (source- NBC news). And for entrepreneurs and brands, this is valuable time to connect with the people that matter most to them- their clients.
Social media is not the impersonal juggernaut that it used to be, so don’t shy away from investing there. You may be pleasantly surprised at how many people you can engage with over time, boosting not only your sales, but also your public image, brand recognition, and customer approval ratings. There are over 40 million active Facebook brand/business pages, and when it comes to the other platforms, Instagram brands trump Twitter by a factor of 47x!
So what does all of this mean for you, a small business owner? Well, first of all, it means that it’s time to start taking social media seriously! Secondly, it means that investing in smart media marketing is a wise move, and learning the ins and outs of these platforms is also a good place to put your money. Perhaps you already have active accounts, but you’re not seeing the kind of engagement you’d like?
Then it’s time to pay attention to these handy tips for connecting with your customer and fan base:
- Don’t overwhelm them
Over-saturating your feeds is a recipe for disaster, and more content does not mean more engagement. In fact, posting too often can actually cost you followers and make your brand come off as pushy or desperate, both of which make consumers run in the other direction. Though it may seem counterintuitive, research has shown that brands that only post 1-2 times per day get up to 73% more interaction than those who post more often.
- Let them share their story
In a distilled (albeit possibly idealistic) perspective, social media is exactly that- a place to share stories. People want to tell their stories and partake in others’ meaningful events, and the power of community can be harnessed for your brand if you do it right. You want your customers and fans to associate your brand with good feelings, so encourage them to post their photos, status updates, and other “sharables” with an inviting hashtag, online contest, or other easy way for them to integrate your products or services into their happy memories.
- Put people before products
Any great marketer knows that the key to catching a customer is through emotion. It’s not necessarily the product or service that sells, it’s the feeling that someone experiences from it. Remember this when posting on social media, and focus on evoking an emotional response, not simply showing pictures or prices on items. People are much more likely to become a fan or follower if they associate your brand with a particular look and feel that speaks to them on a deeper level.
- Ask for feedback
Let’s face it, people love talking about themselves and their opinions. So use that to gain engagement and feedback from your social media channels. There are several tools you can use to run contests, post surveys, and ask for input. This is especially useful if you are in a product development phase (remember the genius of Lay’s potato chip flavor suggestion contest…), or have just rolled out a new service. Getting real feedback from real people is priceless for you to continue to tweak your business and learn what your customers really want.
- Encourage community
When you put the focus on the customer as the “real authority” (as opposed to you), it can create a dramatic shift in engagement. Nobody likes to feel powerless, so when you truly value your customers’ opinions and advice, it empowers them to become ambassadors for your brand. You can set up areas for your past, present, and future customers to interact with each other, ask questions, give advice, and make other connections. There are several platforms to choose from, including private Facebook groups, online forums, and dedicated hashtags. This works especially well in the health/fitness, DIY, food, and home goods sectors.
There are many ways that you can boost your business while making people feel good, and the crux of that lies in social media. When you wield the power of online interaction mindfully, you can build a brand that conveys satisfaction, authenticity, and quality.
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