More businesses are recognizing their need for social media every day. However, there’s more to it than opening an account and posting on it. Social networks are the first avenue that consumers take to connect with you. If they believe you don’t care about them, they won’t make the effort to reach out.
The bigger your business is, the more you’ll have to go out of your way to seem relatable. Sending out internal development news and impressive quotes won’t cut it, but here is what will.
Setting Your Business Goals
As a larger company, your main goal for your social media efforts should be to present a welcoming front to consumers. Smaller, newer companies are already seeing the value of this. Their sincere social media efforts encourage customer engagement, making them the trailblazers on the frontier of digital customer service. For more established businesses to remain agile in the online market, they must treat their social media as the approachable face and voice of the company.
Social media is not only for communicating with consumers, but also with other businesses. This mode of engagement is on the rise and the consumers love seeing cross brand interaction— especially if it turns sassy. Here are a few goals you should have for your B2B social use:
- Improving your page rank, as every post with your name adds to your possible search results.
- Showing fellow business owners that you want to build good relationships — both on and offline.
- Gaining clients by making your business a wider topic of conversation.
- Establish a go-to info source. This builds consumer trust and engagement. Other companies will notice your success, making you an authority figure in your industry.
Since social media is primarily a consumer’s world, your goals as a business must ultimately be consumer-focused if you want to succeed.
Choosing Platforms and Post Types
How do you know which kind of posts will do best on which networks? Take a look some statistics compiled by Fast Company to help you develop a coherent strategy:
- Since at least a quarter of smartphone users can’t bear to be parted from their phones, all of your content — not just the social stuff — should be optimized for mobile browsing.
- Even though LinkedIn is growing fast, don’t expect a high engagement rate there if you’re not trying for B2B leads. Most use social media for pleasure, which is when they’re most receptive to subtle advertising. Join them in their leisure networks, like Facebook and Pinterest, and blend your promotions with fun content if you want to get them interested in your brand.
- Realize that not all of your audience is young; there is a rapidly growing number of baby boomers on Twitter, Facebook, and other social networks. Take a look at the demographics for the media you use the most and decide what kind of content will best serve them while generating leads for you.
- Redirect some of your visual advertising to more innovative spaces, like YouTube and Instagram, where you’re likely to find the largest millennial audience.
While tips on what to do are important, don’t forget to heed warning tips on what not to do. Arguably one of the most important considerations for corporate social networking is never to over-market. People use social media to chat, share fun content, and take a short break from everyday life. If you try too hard to sell rather than engage, you will lose followers quickly. No one likes someone who only talks about himself.
Benefiting from Your Social Media Strategy
It’s not easy to strike the right balance between taking a conversational approach to social media and still promoting your product or service, but the payoff is so worth it. Among other benefits, good customer relations on social can make your company stand out to consumers as a leader in your industry and double your potential sales leads. And these are just the beginning:
- You make your brand more recognizable every time you publish a post.
- You increase traffic to your own website — especially when you use a URL shortener to add a helpful inbound link.
- You can save more on marketing as your social reach (and word of mouth) expands.
- Your customers feel appreciated if your social media rep takes time to respond to their mentions and does everything possible to better their experience with your company.
- You have a better sense of what consumers want, as they’re often very vocal on social media about improvements they’d like to see.
Social media is a tricky playing field, but you don’t have to be intimidated. Erring on the side of humanity and relatability will gain you fans, even if your execution isn’t initially the smoothest. What people want most right now is for businesses to be real. Don’t focus on selling stuff; focus on connecting with the public, and you’ll find yourself with some very loyal brand advocates.
Tell us how you’ve been using social media for your company. What results have you seen? If you’ve made some rookie mistakes, what lessons have you learned?
Katherine Halek is the content strategist at Signazon.com, a leading online printer that works with thousands of small businesses around the country. Katherine enjoys writing about social media, marketing and entrepreneurship. Connect with her on Google+.
Image courtesy of Shutterstock.