It's almost guaranteed that consumers will check for reviews or testimonials before committing to something. For example look at planning a trip, would you book a hotel without reading a review? Would you buy a car without checking for customer feedback or a testimonial?
Here are a few fundamentals to help leverage Social Media from a Marketing perspective:
Before you talk you need to listen. Social channels, discussion groups, forums; are all ways to gain insight into the needs of your customers.
Rather than jump in and try to manage everything on social media - focus on the questions or conversations closest to your business objectives. If lead generation is the main target then pin point the areas to get involved to encourage it.
Quality not Quantity
100 dedicated followers with relevant interest in your product or services is far better than 1000 people who followed you for the sake of it. If you connect with a couple of quality prospects each day then over time you will have a quality list of potential customers.
Take your Time
Fast leads are less likely through social media, if you want immediate results then search marketing may be a better option. Social media requires nurturing and developing. Providing interesting updates, reviews, quality content that will all strengthen the loyalty of any interested party. Patience is key.
Value vs Viral
Don't expect your content to go viral. The most important thing is to share good quality, relevant content. The reach of this content is then multiplied through shares, likes and comments. This then brings up your organic search rankings bringing another source of potential leads.
If you seek out key players in your industry and connect with them, it's likely over time, if you are producing good content, that they will share your content with their audiences.
If you over-post you can seem too pushy and turn people away. We recommend a ratio of 4:1:1:
- 4 posts that relate to your prospects interests
- 1 social post that humanises your brand
- 1 social post promoting your product or service
By humanising we mean talk about something you have done unrelated to your product or service. Maybe a charity event, something one of your staff has done like a sports event. As long as you make it interesting your audience will listen.
Social is called social for a reason. If someone responds to a post - thank them for reading it and respond back. This creates the relationship between business and potential customer. Customers want to feel valued and heard.
If you publish 3 times a day, stick to it. By planning content and time you can ensure that your posts are regular and manageable. There is nothing worse that looking at a company's profile or blog to see that they haven't updated it in months. Potential customers will stop looking. If you publish regularly people will know that your brand is a trustworthy and a reliable source of information.
Engagement vs Broadcasting
Social media isn't just another marketing channel to promote products and services. Promote conversation and interaction by asking readers questions. Engage in the conversations that follow, and use social media to not only generate leads, but get to know your potential customers and what they want. A simple poll or question can provide valuable information at the same time showing customers you are interested in their opinions.
Selling with Social Media
If content and social media is used correctly and effectively over time potential customers will have a clear view of not only the brand but what you do, why you do it and how well you do it. One of the greatest things about social media is its endless networking possibilities. Rather attending a constant stream of networking events, businesses can connect online, expanding their reach and lead generation opportunities.
Each social media platform has it's own set of rules that need to be followed to use social media to your advantage.
Facebook offers it's own advertising platform but once potential customers "like" your business page you have a constant link to engage with them.
LinkedIn is predominantly focused on business to business relationships allowing sales people to connect directly with prospective customers and forge networking opportunities.
Twitter is useful for research to see what is being said about your brand and your industry. Twitter requires active management and monitoring.
When deciding on a social media strategy you must consider your objectives and your industry. Certain businesses will flourish on Facebook but not LinkedIn and vice versa. As new social media networks come along it's useful to stay on top of the game to work out whether you are optimising your social media strategy.
Social media marketing is a very current practice, if a potential customer is no longer interested they can "unfollow" "unlike" or "unconnect" at the click of a button.
Spending hours building a strong social media presence can be completely ruined by a poor online reputation. Most social media platforms encourage reputation management in some form:
- shares, retweets, endorsements
- ratings, testimonials, reviews, recommendations
The trick is to build a strong reputation from the beginning and not wait for a bad review to destroy it. It's not difficult, it requires planning of a process to constantly seek feedback and make it visible to the world.
There are two main reasons that your online reputation may not be positive:
- You need to improve your products and services.
- There is no feedback from your customers.
If you have a good reputation but it isn't visible, but your competitor has reviews and ratings from their customers, it's likely that potential customers will gravitate towards them.
Top tips for feedback:
- Have a process - a form, a question, anything that allows the customer to review the service and product they received.
- Share the feedback once you have it.
- Turn the best feedback into case studies, with testimonials to show how your product or service worked.
- Thank people for leaving positive feedback, repeat business and referral is more likely.
Whether social media will help you achieve your businesses goals is something to consider when developing your digital marketing strategy. In today's digital world it should be at least a component of any good strategy.
By connecting with potential customers and sharing useful and relevant content that they not only engage with, but respond to, you are not only generating leads but developing loyal brand advocates.