Go Ahead — Dive Into social media for your business
If you’re not already using social media for your business – or not using it at all – it’s time to consider getting your toes wet. Social media include Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, blogging, and so on. While Facebook started out with mostly students, now it has hundreds of millions of participants from all ages and walks of life, including businesses. And many people have joined with business marketing in mind. A major benefit of social media is that you can share information of value to others. Take blogging as an example. You write opinions and provide expert commentary that engages your customers and people who haven’t become your customers yet. I’m sure you read them online all the time although you may not realize that they are “blogs.” You have to write things that are interesting enough for people to want to read what you have written. If you already have a website, you can start blogging on it before reaching out to other sites with your comments. As usual with anything new, the main thing is just to get started. There is a ton of free information online on how to get started. If writing a blog seems way too daunting a task right now, at least start with posts to your social media page or pages. Facebook is a great place to get started. And, if you already have a personal Facebook page, you already kind of know how it works. Now create a company Facebook page and start putting posts on your page that others (your target market) would want to read. Invite people you know to like your page and then start posting comments. Ways to do this include possibly linking an article you found on a website and asking for their input, posting something controversial about an issue in your field of business, and if you can, providing links, pictures and/or videos (YouTube) for each post. You can also offer insider specials, contests, and prizes. Your material should not be seen as promotional. If it is generally valuable, people won’t mind a few comments about doing business with you but this shouldn’t be your focus. Your goal is to build relationships with your followers and gain enough interest that people will want to “like” and “follow” your page and find out more about you as well as pass your material on to others (share) – thus building your audience. (Note: when someone “likes” your company page, they are automatically set up to “follow” your posts as well. That means that everytime you post something they see it on their home page. Everytime someone likes, shares, or comments on your post, you get a notification. That is how you know to comment back to them.) Once you have some followers and friends, start asking them questions or posting things that will generate interest, comments and their desire to share with their friends. This gets conversations started and people will begin to share your posts with others. Posts about your team are always some of the most popular posts. Maybe introduce a team member each week or each day and then start sharing birthdays, company anniversaries, Christmas trips, etc. Personal stories seem to have a much higher viewing and share percentage than simple business posts. Share all your special client or customer events as well, but be sure to include photos. Everyone loves to look at photos. A dentist I follow has a Facebook business page and has a contest every month. Everyone who likes or shares at least one post a month, gets their name put into a drawing and a chance to win a gift certificate or prize that month. His “followers” list has grown substantially. A florist I follow puts pictures of plants and flowers on their website and asks followers questions about them. The person who answers correctly wins a gift certificate to the store. At Christmas time they host holiday arrangement and wreath making classes and they are sold out every year long before the classes. One way they could get even more people to comment is to ask what each person’s favorite holiday song is and why. Another way I’ve seen used on Facebook is if you both like the company page and share a post, your name gets put into a drawing for something free. Having people “share” your post is an even better way to get exposure to more followers than if someone just “liked” your post. And getting them to “like” (and follow) your page is even better because then everything you post gets reposted on their home page. A story I heard recently is a great example of how social media helps increase your followers and promotes your business. A event planning company was hosting an international conference for accountants. They only had 1,000 names on their email list and a few hundred followers on their Facebook page. They needed 800 people registered for the conference or it would have to be canceled. They put a post on their Facebook page that anyone who liked their company page and shared their post would receive a 50% discount on the conference fee and one person who did so would win two free tickets. They also asked all their team members, conference speakers, and conference exhibitors and sponsors to share with their followers with the same offer. This was a huge savings on the registration fee, so a great number of their followers liked and shared with others – many of whom were “friends” also in the accounting field. By the time the registration deadline approached, the event was sold out. This strategy more then tripled their Facebook followers, and they now use it over and over again to get their name and information out to more and more people. So, if you’ve been a little hesitant to get your company’s feet wet on social media, now is the time to do it! What could you lose? It only takes 5 minutes a day to check-in, post something, or reply to someone who has made a comment on your page. And if you personally don’t feel you have the time or don’t understand it, appoint someone in your office to be your “social media guru” — preferably a Millennial (22 to 37 years). I hate to admit this, but the younger generation is much more social media savy than I am and everything about it just comes naturally to them. You won’t regret it.