So you’ve set up social media accounts for your business and you want to start talking to existing and potential customers.
As a small business or startup, there are three key ways you can use social media. None of them are wrong but trying to do them all isn’t going to work in your favour, and attempting to be everything to everyone is like shooting an arrow at the sky and hoping you hit something.
Here are the three things you need to decide on to have a killer social media presence. Pick the best one for your business and stick to it.
A lot of brands choose this strategy to promote their product like they would on any other marketing channel. But remember, you need to keep the social in your social media i.e. use a social tone, be interactive and commit to your content. Otherwise your social media pages will be abandoned at record speed.
An example of this is an online retail store. It could post about sales, new products, or design inspiration, and all would be direct promotion of its products. The posts could link directly back to the point of sale (your website, an online store) where the sale could take place. This strategy is a tough road to walk and only the really interesting, engaging brands succeed at it.
Warning: Be wary of posting content that is way too promotional or salesy. If you offer 10% off, what makes you different from any other brand offering 10% off? Offer amazing value or be truly interesting – there is no in-between.
Another way to use social media is for customer loyalty. You would do this if your main objective is to grow brand trust, add value and retain customers. To do this well you need to know what questions your customers are asking so you can create relevant content to answer them.
Let’s say you own a pool installation business. You would post content about everything from the benefits of different types of pools, the ongoing costs, how often they need maintenance and tips on how to ensure they stay healthy, clean and easy to use. Truly helpful content without any calls to action – let the trust you create become the reason a customer calls you. (This will also help your search engine optimisation in a big way.)
Another way to use social media for customer loyalty is as a Q&A service. This is easiest done through Twitter, where a staff member can advise they are there to take questions about the product or service and provide timely responses.
In essence, your brand is providing marketing content so useful your customers would pay for it (but don’t have to).
Warning: This is an excellent focus to pick but beware, if you try to do openly promotional posts after gaining the trust of your followers, they won’t be pleased – and they’ll either tell you so or, worse, ignore you completely.
The final option is to use your brand’s social media accounts to amplify your customers’ experience. This is similar to customer loyalty in that you provide helpful, useful or relevant content, however not directly in relation to your core product or service.
An example of this is how an energy drink business might share content (news, blogs, live video) about sports or high-energy experiences to associate itself with those kind of consumers, strengthening the brand’s trust and authority in the process.
When brands lack focus in social media and use a mixture of the above, your audience will be confused, filter away or not engage with you at all. So choose a focus and stick to it (give it 6-12 months too – there is no silver bullet) and watch your social media prosper.
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Kurt is a digital content strategist with a focus on developing strategies and content that help businesses' audiences engage, solve, trust and act. Kurt has helped create and execute strategies across B2B and B2C businesses, growing audiences, generating leads and creating brand advocates. Kurt is the director of strategy for The Content Division and co-hosts the Telltale podcast.