How social media marketing strengthens relationships with customers
Small business owners understand that building relationships with customers is the key to success. And when it comes to digital marketing, social media offers a way to grow those relationships online. Not only do a majority of Fortune 500 companies use platforms such as Facebook and Twitter to bring attention to their brands1 , but 75% of online Americans report that they are more loyal to companies that promote their products on social media.2
A social media presence can introduce your product or service to new customers, keep you top-of-mind for existing ones and build loyalty to your company. “It’s a great platform to share knowledge and information about your business and find people that can help influence your brand,” says Margie Barclay, Director of Advertising at Staten Island Media Group.
And the result of sharing all that information on social media? The potential for more revenue.
Find the best fit for your business
Although there are numerous social media platforms, there’s no need to be on every one of them. “It’s better to be active on a couple and engage effectively, rather than trying to manage multiple accounts with little activity,” says Barclay.
Here are a few social networks to consider:
It’s the largest social network, and the place where people can stay updated on what’s happening with their friends and favorite businesses. Facebook helps you consistently connect with your customers, whether by promoting new products or simply having fun with a photo contest.
This fast-paced social media site uses short messages to entertain or educate followers. You can exponentially expand your market reach when one tweet gets retweeted by dozens or even hundreds of people to their own Twitter followers.
This photo-sharing smartphone app makes the most sense for businesses selling products with a strong visual appeal, such as jewelry or fashion.
This business-oriented network’s 300 million members3 use it to share their career activities, monitor industry news and pursue job opportunities. B2B marketers can benefit from a LinkedIn profile that lets them connect with decision makers at target client firms.
Put social media to work
Once you’ve set up your company account(s), spend a few weeks observing how people interact on those networks. You’ll get a better sense of how the platform works, which posts garner attention, and which ones fall flat. Then, start posting yourself.
Here are some tips for making the most of your new social media presence:
- Look for opportunities to start conversations
If you run a restaurant, you might use Twitter to advertise daily specials. A florist could showcase its best arrangements on Instagram. The owners of a running store might use Facebook to ask people about their favorite running routes, or invite them to post pictures from local races.
- Find ways to encourage interaction
Asking questions or hosting contests can be a great way to create a dialog with potential and current customers. For example, Medtronic Diabetes, a maker of insulin pumps, launched a Facebook campaign asking customers to share photos of themselves living with diabetes, and later transformed those pictures into a successful advertising campaign.4 Including a visual component is a great way to encourage people to share your content. One study revealed that Facebook posts that include a video are shared twice as much as non-video posts5 .
- But don’t be brazenly promotional
Social networks aren’t keen on companies that blatantly ask for likes or shares of their posts. For example, Facebook announced last year that it will de-emphasize content in its news feeds from publishers posting so-called “like-bait.”6 Instead of asking for likes and shares, focus on creating content that speaks to your audience so they’re inspired to take action on their own.
If you find it hard to strike the right tone, consider hiring a consultant or social media marketing team to help navigate this new world. But while the online format is new, the goal remains the same: understanding and engaging with your target audience. “Social media allows customers to discuss the experience of interacting with your brand,” says Barclay. “It’s important to address all positive and negative feedback and learn from the experience.”