Increasingly, SMEs are tapping into social media platforms as a means of promoting and communicating their brand to existing and potential customers.
Do it right and often, and you’ll see an increase in traffic across your site.
But while savvy business owners understand these networks represent a great way of building trust and a loyal community, as well as networking with other industry professionals, it isn’t the kind of commitment that a business should take lightly.
Here’s how to establish and maintain an effective social media presence.
Take a stance and stick to it
“It’s important to define how and why you engage your audience on social media and then stick to it,” says Airtasker cofounder and chief executive Tim Fung.
Posting something and then coming back a month later isn’t going to cut it. To create authentic customer relationships using social media it’s vital that you think about how you plan to market yourself, what you represent, what you offer and what you’re known for.
“Social platforms are there to help you build trust with your customers, so don’t break it by being inconsistent. For example, if you decide to answer customer service queries on Twitter, you’ll need to always have the capacity to do this – even when the tweets start piling up.”
If you’re going to cut through the online noise, you’ve got to be dependable.
Balance sales and engagement
There’s no denying many social media networks – for example Twitter – can play an important role as a sales driver, or can influence sales by creating awareness and understanding around your products and services. But to keep engagement levels up, you’ll need to create content that your audience loves to consume often, advises Fung.
This means generating sharable content that encourages meaningful interaction with your audience.
Naturally, there are subtle nuances across each platform and businesses need to understand that the posting and writing styles relevant to, for example, Instagram and LinkedIn are distinct and should be approached accordingly, just like real-life social interactions.
“You also need to make sure that you use your engaged audience to drive your objectives and sales and build your brand… It’s not easy to get the balance right so you’ll need to constantly monitor your mix – sorry, no special tricks here – this is an art more than a science!”
No fake engagement
While social media can be fantastic for online branding, it can also bring with it the curse of inauthenticity.
“Every now and then the big social platforms clamp down on any ‘gamifying’ of their platform so things like fake likes, followers or comments will likely result in penalties in the long run,” says Fung.
When you buy followers or fans, you aren’t getting people who are fascinated by your offering or willing to engage with you. You’re purely buying numbers.
“Be patient and authentic as this is the key to longevity,” says Fung. “These days, no one is impressed by a local suburban business with 1 million likes from empty user accounts!”
Increasingly social media platforms form a significant part of a business’s online strategy, so get a handle on the various platforms now and start communicating your brand.