Social media is here to stay: more people than ever are using online services to talk directly to friends, family members and businesses. From Facebook to Snapchat, social media is now a normal part of online life for customers – and it needs to be for you, too.
Social media channels can encourage customers to visit your website or store, help you build stronger relationships and increase customer loyalty. But doing it right takes time. Here are some tips to help you attract customers to your social media channels and make sure you keep them interested.
Have a plan
As with any marketing materials, you need a plan before you start using social media. Imagine it like a party at your house where lots of people are invited: why are you throwing the party? Who is it for? What sort of party do they expect? What party games are you going to give them?
Spend some time researching your potential customers and what they like to hear about. Then make sure your business objective for using social media is really clear in your head: is it to get more sales, more customers or keep in touch? Once you know these answers, choose your social media channels to fit this purpose.
Keep direct selling to a minimum
From time to time, showcasing new products or special offers on social media can drive more sales. But just like an unwanted party guest who keeps trying to flog his business to your friends, the ‘hard sell’ doesn’t work that well in a social setting.
Instead, focus on how you can add to the community on social media. How could you help your potential customers by giving them advice? How could you start up interesting, engaging conversations? Taking part in LinkedIn Groups or Facebook groups is a good way to see what your customers are talking about and offer advice in a natural, less ‘salesy’ way.
For example, if you’re a plumber and see that lots of people in a local Facebook group are asking how to protect their pipes in winter, you could give them some free advice.
Show some personality
People join social media to connect with other people, so they’re more likely to enjoy your updates if you give your business some personality. Keep it relevant to your business – so avoid random photos of cute cats, unless you’re a pet shop!
Behind-the-scenes photos can be very effective, as it gives customers a sneak peek into something they’re not normally allowed access to. This might be a new product delivery, happy customers, or your creative workspace, including photos of your employees.Some other ways to show your personality and sound more natural include:
Using language your customers use, not technical jargon
Showcasing individual people in the business with photographs
Sharing your sense of humour with customers (for example, with funny photos or jokes)
You can also show your business’ personality through your profile images on each of the social media channels. We recommend using your logo consistently across all profile pictures, but you can add different header images – the ones right at the top of your profile – and other visuals to your profile to bring it to life.
Stay up to date
If you were throwing a party and you brought out cheese and pineapple on cocktail sticks, your guests might think you were a bit out of touch. The same applies on social media; it’s important you show you’re keeping up to date and understand what’s important to your customers right now.That means regularly updating your social media accounts with interesting ideas, new products or offers, and sharing relevant, contemporary information with your followers. For example, if you’re a B2B company you might share articles about new technology in your industry, while a B2C company might talk about big trends customers should watch out for.
Use the right tone of voice
Different types of party need different types of music, chat and outfits, and it’s the same for your business on social media.
Different social media channels have different styles of conversation: for example, Twitter is much shorter, sharper and quicker than LinkedIn, which is business-focused and more formal. Check that you’re talking in the right way for that channel, otherwise your business might seem out of place. More importantly, you should look at how your customers talk to each other on these channels. If they are friendly, informal and use lots of emojis, you might want to do the same. When researching your customers, note down the sort of words and phrases they use to help you work out what your own tone of voice should be.
Commit to running your channels
If you throw a great party and invite people to visit again, they’ll expect the same experience next time – or something even better. On social media, asking people to ‘follow’ you or ‘like’ your page is like asking them to come back to the next party, so it’s important you commit to running your channels otherwise you’ll end up disappointing your customers.
But this doesn’t have to be a chore, and you can plan ahead and schedule plenty of updates in advance. Start slowly on social media and don’t over-commit; an update once a day for Twitter or a couple of times a week for Facebook is enough. If you’re not sure how much you can commit to, start with one channel your customers use and work on using that as effectively as possible. Once you’ve worked out how to make social media a normal part of your day, you can increase your activity and see what the results are.