Lots of companies have a social media presence. They have Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, Pinterest pages, Instagram, YouTube and other online accounts. They may make an effort to create a presence on every new social platform; however, the mere presence of social media accounts will do nothing to help your company’s marketing efforts. If customers don’t have a reason to pay attention to your social media efforts, they will be a waste of time and energy. At worst, some companies manage to annoy their customers through their use of social media. A well-planned out strategy can help you avoid these marketing mishaps.
Many businesses hire social media experts to help them manage their online presence. For smaller companies, a dedicated social media employee isn’t a realistic option. Often, they choose to work with consultants who help them build a useful online presence. Often, social media consultants work with website developers to help integrate the company’s image into a consistent brand. An important part of this is engaging customers without annoying them.
How do you attract customers without pestering them?
- Don’t post articles or send messages that have no purpose other than self-promotion. Some companies post Tweets or Facebook messages that are the online equivalent of saying “Hey, we’re here!” Most users view this as another pesky internet advertisement which they promptly ignore. They may even unsubscribe from your Facebook page or stop following your Twitter account if they are particularly annoyed.
- Use your sites to include customers in your business. Allow them to post Instagram pictures on your Facebook page. Follow your customers back on Twitter. Respond to Facebook friend requests, if your page is setup to maintain your professional persona. When customers post comments on your Facebook page, send a reply. This creates interaction that entices customers to share your sites and return for future interactions.
- Include promotions on your sites. Share coupons through sites like Twitter and Facebook. Encourage subscribers to share coupons with friends. Offer new promotions and coupons on a regular basis to encourage interest.
- Host contests that users can share on social media. Encourage them to share contests with friends. Contests can give away free or reduced price products. Share information about the winners so that users know contests are real. You can even share photographs of winners with their permission.
- Run seasonal promotions and share the information with all your followers and friends. If you don’t attract their attention regularly, they will forget about you. A dormant social media presence becomes invisible over time. It does no good to create a Facebook page if you never use it.
- Use tools like FanPageKarma or Woobox to increase customer interaction through Facebook contests. You can ask users to like or comment on a post to enter a contest. The tool picks a winner at random out of the number of “likes” on the Facebook page. The contests need to be real or users will quickly catch on.
- Try creating a YouTube account that features fun or interesting videos. Share the videos with customers on social media. You can create a variety of different types of videos. Take videos at company events. Record a community event that is related to your business. Ask customers to create testimonials. Always get permission before using people in videos. Never use copyrighted materials in visual media.
- Avoid commenting on politics or controversial social issues. Your customer base probably includes people with a wide range of opinions and convictions. Don’t alienate people by posting political articles, criticizing local leaders or campaigning for candidates. Businesses have lost customers by commenting on a variety of controversies. Reread any posts and ask for a second opinion if you think you might have crossed a line.
- Write articles that inform consumers. Customers don’t want to receive notifications about new marketing campaigns; they want information that helps them solve problems. Create articles that educate people on current issues and concerns that are relevant to your industry. Don’t create content that is merely self-serving. Instead, create interesting articles with expert advices, questions, answers and helpful resources that readers will share with others.
- Use your social media presence to support community events. Many companies sponsor local charity causes including parades, fundraisers, races, food drives, dances, museums, youth sports and other causes to help build community awareness. Encourage readers to become involved in events through links on your Facebook page. Send tweets that inspire people to join in to help. This isn’t a direct marketing strategy, but it affects the public opinion of your organization.
- Use Twitter in a variety of ways. Link to articles. Post advertising videos. Thank customers who have replied to your tweet or have retweeted your posts. Retweet relevant links. Use hashtags that are relevant to your company.
- Link to your social media sites through your website. Customers can use Twitter to request help or ask questions. They can like your Facebook page to receive promotional information. They can pin product information or designs from your site directly to their Pinterest boards if you provide a link. These steps can help increase the traffic to your website from potential customers.
- Use a casual but professional style at all times. If your writing is sloppy, people will view you as incompetent. Work with professional writers and editors if you don’t have the time or staff available to carefully review your work. Small mistakes can detract from your company’s image.
- Follow related businesses, experts and individuals on Twitter and review their posts. You can learn a lot about customer interactions and current issues. Reply to posts on occasion if you have something relevant to add to the conversation.
- Encourage comments on your social media pages. Ask questions about current issues in your industry. Ask customers for feedback. What flavors do they want? What new styles interest them? What are their favorite events to celebrate at restaurants? When customers comment on your page, reply and thank them for their comment. If the customer has a complaint, contact the person directly to resolve the issue.