Guest post by S.L. Hoffman
Ditch the Old-School Advertising Mindset
When today’s consumers seek a product or service, they have multiple options. Through the Internet, they aren’t restricted to local businesses any more. If you fail to take proper care of your customers, they can easily switch to other local, regional, national, or even international companies that will gladly handle their business.
Now, your customers are highly Internet-savvy and sophisticated, and they expect your company to build a personal relationship with them. This expectation is far different from the conventional sales model where you blast out an advertising message, highlight the benefits of whatever you’re selling, and expect consumers to be delighted enough to make an immediate purchase.
Social media has made it easy to reach the target audience you want, whether that’s a group of local consumers or buyers from multiple countries. Unfortunately, many business owners still adopt the classic tactic of using conventional “buy me right now” advertising messages on social media. Customers reading those posts are left wondering, “Well, that’s nice. But what’s in it for ME?”
Building Relationships with Customers Is Critical
It is highly important to build relationships if you expect to make money from social media. There are two ways to have social media generate money for you: either from the money you save or the money you earn.
For example, Facebook posts can be easily boosted to reach a wide audience. For about $15, you can reach hundreds or even thousands of people, according to Hootsuite. Some of those people might even share your posts with their own networks, which results in free advertising for you. By contrast, reaching those same people through printed postcards would cost you hundreds of dollars for printing and mailing.
Similarly, the relationships you build on social media can generate revenue over time. For instance, I generated revenue as a freelance writer by carefully building a network on LinkedIn. Over time, I kept up those relationships and eventually it led to work for which I was compensated.
Basic Rules for Using Social Media the Right Way
If your company has decided to utilize social media sites as essential components of its marketing, be sure that your marketing manager is savvy enough to use these sites well. Here are some basic social media rules:
- Avoid insensitive, cringe-worthy posts. Although this rule might seem like pure common sense, some businesses have created public relations disasters simply by not realizing the impressions their messages give to the public. Campbell’s Soup, for instance, attempted to use its cheerful SpaghettiOs mascot for a tweet posted on the anniversary of Pearl Harbor. The company ended up deleting the tweet and apologizing publicly.
- Show your company’s personality. Charmin is known as the sassiest brand on Twitter for a reason, because this company has a sense of humor about their product. Customers respond to a company that they feel is staffed by warm, caring, and authentic people; they will be more likely to respond to your company if you show that you truly care about them, not just their wallets.
- Stay alert and answer customers promptly. There are some social media sites where nothing has been posted for a long time and messages go unanswered for weeks or even months. That’s as bad as failing to answer your business phone when it rings.
If customers need to reach you urgently, they often resort to social media to get your immediate attention. By not responding in the same hour or at least the same day, you create the public impression that your company is uncaring and that bad impression could deter other customers from doing business with you.
- Don’t forget your analytics, but don’t get caught up in vanity metrics. It’s a thrill to see your posts get likes and shares, but don’t let those vanity metrics blind you. There are multiple digital analytics tools to help you track how your website performs and how social media sites refer customers to you. Use your digital analytics tools to determine user behavior on your website and keep refining your content until you find what works.
- Be patient. While it’s possible for posts to go viral and increase your revenue in a short period of time, this is the exception rather than the rule. You didn’t build your business overnight, so why should your social media be any different?
Social media provides an amazing opportunity to create real relationships with current and prospective customers and there are many ways to prove your expertise, such as videos, podcasts, photographs, infographics, and blog articles. If you take the time to carefully nurture customer relationships over time and ease back on the conventional advertising mindset, your efforts can eventually pay off in terms of company growth and revenue generation.
Header photo by John Schnobrich on Unsplash