If I have a website, isn’t that enough?
Back in the “good old days” simply having a website was considered to be avant garde, but times have changed. Online success now requires considerable input in terms of either time or money.
The developments in mobile technology mean that customers can access the internet on the go making it easy for them to compare trends, products and prices. In order to win in the fight for viewer attention, a strong social media marketing strategy is required.
There are many ways in which the small business owner can use social media to strengthen their business. Here are a few suggestions:
Cultivate an online presence
In order to maintain your business profile it is important to create and cultivate an online presence. Just as with any other relationship, unless you contribute it will go stale and ultimately cease to exist.
The art of an online relationship depends on creating new and interesting content, whether this is through your blog, or via social media such as Facebook and Twitter. This not only indicates that you are interested in your customers, but also that your business matters. After all if you don’t take your business seriously, why should your customers?
Get to know your customers
By encouraging feedback from your customers you will gain a better understanding of exactly who your customer is. Knowing this will enable you to focus your social media content on areas which will appeal to these customers. For example, if they like cycling on Sundays, your social media output should be focused on this area.
Apart from updating content, it is also essential that you can provide a quick response to any feedback received. In the virtual world, where shopping is available 24 hours a day the concept of responding within “three working days” is long forgotten. Customers demand immediate responses, and if can easily be alienated by slow responses.
Providing the opportunity to give feedback is a great way of generating and promoting brand loyalty, but will only work if responses or questions receive a response. If not it will have a negative impact on the business.
The art of blogging
Let’s blog! Whilst blogging may be disguised as a way of informing customers about new products, telling anecdotes, or analysing the news, blogging in reality is a vehicle for promoting sales.
Customers have an apparently endless desire for content, so it is important that this desire is fulfilled. If further proof is required, research has indicted that online buyers view ten content articles prior to making a purchase. This could be with you or with your competitor. Which would you prefer?
Social media is a two-way activity
Social media is not simply a question of broadcasting information; it is about provoking, stimulating and generating feedback and interaction in order to engage with your customers online.
Interaction is a social activity and creates emotional ties, which in turn provoke a sense of belonging and loyalty. This emotional tie is an essential part of company branding.
In a society which is becoming more and more fragmented in the real world relationships in the virtual world are becoming increasingly important. If your business is to succeed focus on nurturing and cultivating your online customers in the same way you would a customer in the real world, with conversation, stimulation, charm and responsiveness. After all, social media is not a formulaic science but rather the story of human bonding.