Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, LinkedIn, Pinterest, the list goes on and on and on. The reality is that the vast majority of Americans spend a considerable amount of time online, so much so that the average consumer is constantly bombarded by information.
For a business, standing out in social media requires some skill, a little luck, and implementing the industry’s best practices. Below are some recommendations for optimizing your online presence, building trust with your audience, and ultimately converting clicks into profit.
Customers have expectations for quick responses, especially when it comes to complaints. Negative feedback must be addressed, especially in a public setting. Acknowledge the hurt feelings, tell the customer how much she is valued, and offer a solution. Then try to take it to a private message as quickly as possible and resolve it there. Be genuine and sincere. And whatever the feedback, always try to respond back to it, even if it is as simple as saying “thank you.”
Blessed are the brief:
The scarcest resource of our time is “time.” Twitter’s popularity lies in its brevity and 140-character limit. People no longer have the luxury (or the patience) of reading a long article. Consumers want brief, to-the-point, striking content. Pictures and engaging, snappy captions are best. Ideas for longer posts don’t belong in a Facebook status update. Keep them for a blog on the company’s website.
When creating social media posts, give people something to talk about. Today’s social media user is looking to be a part of the conversation. We all want to feel included. Ask questions and post content consumers are interested in, related to the business. For example, a donut shop might post a poll asking customers about their favorite donut flavor. Or an accounting firm can upload a screenshot from a scary movie and write below, “Don’t be afraid this tax season. Come visit us at Acme CPA.” Engagement can be about news, the company’s industry, photos, info-graphics, promotions or questions. The options are endless.
Regularly posting on social media and engaging with customers on social media is a great place to start. But to really see success, companies should be providing users with information on the right action to take, based on your post. That could be as simple as asking them to share, retweet, or comment. Or maybe ask that they try a featured product, or directing them to the company website. Whatever it is, be sure include a call-to-action on social media posts. Let consumers use their network to expand the organic reach of social media. Give them a reason to mention the company brand and refer others to the business.
Respect intellectual property rights:
From a practical perspective, organizations should be mindful and vigilant that content being posted does not accidentally infringe on another person’s intellectual property rights. This could expose even the smallest mom-and-pop store to legal liability. Nevertheless, copyright laws allow for the “fair use” of copyrighted material without securing the owner’s permission. This type of exception allows anyone to use the copyrighted material of another for use such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, or research. However, the first factor used to determine whether the use of another’s copyright falls under this exception is whether the use is for commercial vs. non-profit educational purposes. Accordingly, businesses should be careful relying on the protection of fair use when using another’s copyright.
Running a social media program can be incredibly time-consuming, but one way to save time is to automate parts of the process. Even small businesses and start-ups can pre-schedule social-media message and posts and re-share content at optimal times. There are several free and inexpensive programs available.
Behind-the-scenes insights build connection:
A great benefit of social media is that it allows the audience to get real-time access as to what it’s like to be a part of the company. This type of intimacy helps boost loyalty, which is turn, boosts sales. Consider posting about office dress up days, major milestones, job postings, events, and fun, goofy comments made around the water cooler.
Consistency is key:
Finally, social media is a social endeavor in and of itself. A company’s team should be involved in the conversations, but publicly it should speak with one voice. Limit the number of people with access to the social media platforms. And anytime someone with access leaves, immediately change the passwords. Because while it’s great to give life to a brand on social media, once something is posted, it can never be truly deleted.