By: Sheila Bacon, Principal Digital Strategist BGGMobile
One of the biggest misconceptions with online marketing is that social media is only for large brands. Truthfully, any size business that invests its time wisely can improve both customer (or client) loyalty and traditional word-of-mouth marketing efforts.
Social media is useful for almost every type of business. Manufactures, retail stores, and even professional services can build their online reputation and increase trust. By taking advantage of social media, businesses can make themselves more accessible, more personable, and maintain long-term connections. Any business looking to increase referrals, social media can be a powerful tool.
Here are five big ways or key wins that businesses can capitalize on using this new form of marketing.
Key Win 1: Leverage Local
Consumers use local social networks to find businesses, but also to get social proof when making a decision. They use comments and reviews to go with the “best” listing. Because of the demographic these sites target (people ready to make a decision) small businesses can see a great return from local social networks. Go out and find ones that you like and tell me about why. I will also give you more suggestions in future blogs.
Example: For local businesses with a storefront, sites like Yelp (Yelp) can make a real impact. Yelp allows businesses to create listings with all the necessary information for a consumer to find you, while other customers can review and comment on your business. Many of these sites will let business owners “claim” their listings and add information, such as phone numbers, store hours, menus, etc. They do verify so it may take a day or so to get the listing up. Check it out.
Key Win 2: Blog or Social Hub/Web Site
When most businesses begin a social media campaign, they tend to focus on Facebook (Facebook), Twitter (Twitter), and other social sites. They usually forget to incorporate their own site and tie their social profiles together. Our second key win, is the creation of a blog or social hub off your web site. Why push your consumers to connect with you on other sites, but not give them a reason to visit yours?
Giving consumers a reason to visit your site is extremely important. A blog or social hub can pull consumers to your site and into the sales funnel. Building and writing a blog may be time consuming, but it creates a way to connect with users on your own website. Additionally, creating useful content such as how-to’s or industry insights can keep customers engaged.
Key Win 3: Twitter
Everyone is talking about Twitter. So why is it a key win? Simple: it connects you with your consumers in real-time via the web, desktop applications, and even mobile. Finding a way to offer value while humanizing the business can lead to an even stronger following and increased word of mouth marketing.
As a author of a Twitter account you should be charismatic and show your commitment to customer service which will help you stand out and draw a lot of attention to your business. By being engaging and interacting with the community you should see increases in site visits and dialogue.
You will need to monitor Twitter, and there are great tools out there to do that quickly. With Twitter, businesses are able to cater to their consumer’s needs instantaneously. In a world where everything needs to be done yesterday, a quick response can create a lifelong customer.
Key Win 4: Facebook Fan Page
Another major social site to target is Facebook. Creating a Fan Page is simple, but truly utilizing it to its fullest potential takes some guidance.
A Facebook Fan Page allows a business to visualize and build a community, similar to Twitter. However, unlike Twitter, you can add and customize a great deal more.
At the very least a business should update their Fan Page “status” to keep consumers informed and engaged. A more advanced technique would be to add things like coupons or Google (Google) maps directions to the storefront. These kind of resources give consumers a reason to visit the Page and interact with the brand. If you are stuck on any part of this, just contact BGG and we will be happy to help you.
Key Win 5: Custom Wiki– Crowdsourcing
Think about using a custom wiki, which takes advantage of a phenomenon called “crowdsourcing.” In other words, use your customers to give information to other consumers.
An easy way to do this is by creating a wiki for your FAQ or Customer Service knowledge base. Let your consumers enter the problems they’ve had via a public forum (the wiki), and provide your responses publicly as well. Although showing problems may seem backwards, it’s a very effective way to retain customers and generate new sales. Remember consumers aren’t stupid, they know that mistakes happen. Instead, they want to see that their questions will be answered quickly. Also, with a public wiki, customers can see if a concern has already been addressed, saving time for both you and the customer. With minimal moderation, a wiki can build trust in your business and make your customer service more efficient.
These are just a few suggestions; let me hear your thoughts, comments or ideas. Thank you for participating and Happy 2012!