Capitalizing on Social Media to Promote Your Business
Building a business isn’t easy. In this day and age, providing good service doesn’t seem to be enough. Everyone is branding, marketing and optimizing their public-facing content. “But my service is the best in the area! I should have a corner on the market!” you say. Well, times are changing and in this day & age social media has become king. But how can you incorporate social media to expand your business? It’s easy – although it does take work!
It’s All About Relationships
Social media isn’t just funny pictures of cats and blatant self-promotion. A successful social media presence is actually about building community. That’s why professional public outreach specialists (read: professional facebookers) are often called “community managers.” If your company already has outstanding customer service, expanding into social media should be a breeze. If your customer service is only so-so, looking into your social media may be a way to help improve.
Social media is about building community. It is important to understand your community and how your business fits their needs. This can be a challenge for a new business, but for established businesses it should be a bit more obvious. The outcome should focus on how you can open dialogues in productive ways with your customers, and how you can show your usefulness to them.
There are some tips and tricks, but the main thing is: community and self-promotion are not the same! Just like your family and friends don’t want to hear about your job all the time, neither do your Twitter followers. But by reaching out to your established community, you will accomplish these goals:
- Demonstrating your “usefulness” to future clients (AKA advertising!)
- Creating a more personal relationship with current clients that keeps them coming back
- Finding new ways to evolve your business practices that can respond to your clients’ needs.
When you see social media in this way, “advertising” is less about traditional ads. Instead it’s about creating an understandable, digestible “personality” for your business. It’s an imaginary customer service representative that everyone gets to know.
5 Tips for Using Social Media for Your Business:
So you’re interested in building a social media presence for your brand. But where do you start? Here are some tips and tricks from industry professionals that will help you craft your new public personality.
The Right Place at the Right Time
Social media is kind of like investing time into a stock exchange instead of money. It can be a risky business with BIG payoffs. And like the stock exchange, sometimes it’s a matter of being in the right place at the right time. And, also like the stock exchange, that place & time can rely on a bit of research.
The Pew Institute has studied social media platforms and shown that Youtube and Facebook are the most-often used. At least right now. It’s just one study, but it shows one important trend that’s worth noting. Also, you have to know where your audience is. Instagram and Pinterest excel at highlighting still images. Each platform each has its own demographics – far more women use Pinterest, for example. Facebook users are generally a bit older than Instagram users. Study who you want to reach in your field and market, then choose where you want to publish.
The times are a-changing, and what’s popular today may move on tomorrow. But what matters is establishing yourself in places where you think you will reach the most people appropriate for your business. It’s better to “specialize” on one or two platforms rather than spread yourself too thin.
Stop talking about yourself!
There’s a good rule-of-thumb used by many social media gurus: the 1-in-5 (or 1-in-7) rule. The rule is simple… only 1 of every 5 (or 7, if you really want to challenge yourself) posts should explicitly promote your business. This means not every post can be shouting from the mountaintops about how good your service is. That gets boring fast.
Instead you should be posting useful information, interacting with customers, and giving updates. Did we say useful? Well, not necessarily! Having fun is important too. Yes, an occasional funny pet video or TGIF meme is great.
The trick is to be something that keeps your customers interested. This other information is its own kind of self-promotion. Sharing a link to an article about DIY tips and tricks – even if outside your area of business – is useful to your customers. Even better if it’s somehow related. IIn the stamped concrete field, for instance, we could share info about water treatments for pools. Or stocking up for winter sidewalk care. It’s an indirect way of educating your followers about your services.
By reaching out to customers, you build trust and loyalty. Plus, by limiting your self-promotion, people will be less likely to keep scrolling past every single post because they’ll value what you have to say.
Ask yourself before you post…
How does this provide value to my customer base? How can it provide value to future customers? I’ve seen so many companies that embrace the 1-in-5 rule…by only posting memes related to their industry or making a big “TGIF!” post. This is fine once in a while, but it’s not adding a lot of informational value.
These “fun” posts can be a part of your company’s personality. But overdoing it can seem hollow and make them likely to be ignored. Instead, address some of your frequently-asked questions.
Post the kind information you wish your customers had before they approached you about services. Address parts of maintenance that might benefit with a seasonal reminder. These are all great, valuable posts that both provide an engaging experience for your community. They also demonstrate your services in a subtle way. An informed customer sees the value in your work and becomes a loyal customer.
And if you’re out of questions to ask yourself…
Ask the community! Informational posts are great, but they don’t always inspire interaction. Interaction is the cornerstone of social media. By having people engaged with and responding to your posts, you are naturally growing your visibility. More interaction spreads your presence across any social media platform. This is why “viral” posts become viral.
Posts that boost engagement can take a few forms. Invite people to chime in on a new business idea by posting a poll. Ask people what they thought of a recent deal you offered. You can even mix it up with some fun ideas. People respond well to things like contests, trivia questions and invitations to share their needs & experiences.
The upshot of this type of posting is that you start building up some useful data about your customers. In the long run, this improves your ability to provide good customer service!
All social media platforms are designed to reward engagement. The more you post, the more often you’ll appear when you do post. This blog from Constant Contact has a great cheat sheet for how to manage your social media presence, regardless of platform.
Additionally, it’s important to show your reliability with your social media. Responding to messages and to comments (in a polite, informative way – don’t respond to bullying or bully commenters!) shows that you are responsive and provide good customer service.
An abandoned social media account can raise big red flags for future customers. It can even turn future customers away if it looks as though you’ve gone out of business because you haven’t posted in 2 years!
One Last Tip – Use Video and Images
And here’s the BIG TIP. Too big to bury in the rest of the list – use video and images!
Social media isn’t just advertising. It’s a little bit of science, in a way. Most social media platforms, like Facebook, promote posts containing images and videos above text-only posts. The algorithms are based on the fact that our brains respond better to images and videos than to text. Incorporating plenty of videos and images into your postings naturally appeals to the social media algorithm and to your customer’s brains. You can find many online but you can also make your own. Even award-winning feature films are now being made on iPhones!
Don’t lose sight of the other tips when posting pictures and videos. The value of your posts is still important.
Images and videos are especially helpful in a field like stamped concrete. You can better convey the skill & beauty of a project by showing it to your customers in videos and pictures. Have a good photographer come in to take high-quality images of finished projects (with their client’s permission, of course). It goes a long way towards showing what your work can do.
At the same time, posting videos of your crews at work, or even sharing a live video of a project, will draw a lot of interest. It’s a great way to highlight the value of your services without violating the “1-in-5” rule.
Videos and pictures are especially important for potential new clients. In this day and age, people will hardly hire a contractor whose portfolio they can’t see. This may not mean you need a dedicated Instagram account. It does mean, though, that you need to focus on getting high-quality visual content prepared. And, as with anything, some moderation is key. 10 posts a day of your latest project in various stages of drying & curing? Well, it’s not so different from watching paint dry, is it? Don’t overdo it, but don’t neglect it either. As always keep it varied, keep it consistent, and keep it valuable!
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and the rest aren’t the be-all and end-all of marketing. They re just one of many tools you can make part of marketing your business. But they’re an important part, so it’s essential to know how to use them to promote your company!
If you can create value for your customers, your social media account can create value for you. Build trust by using the right platform to provide valuable, interactive content to your customers. And you’ll build a strong new client base. Pictures and videos will enhance the impact you have in the long run by appealing to people’s visual nature. In no time, you’ll be running a successful business with model customer service.