When I speak with small business owners, especially service-based businesses in local communities, about using social media to reach their audience, I get some strange reactions.
Some of them glaze over. Some get defensive. Apprehension. Excitement. But the most common by far is defeat.
So many local business owners have a hard time seeing the ways that they can use social media to reach their audiences.
The thought is that social media is intended for national brands that are able to sell and ship through the mail or digitally.
That couldn't be further from the truth. Social media is an extremely valuable asset that should be built into your digital strategy so that you know which platforms work for your business, how you intend to use those platforms, and how you want people to experience your brand.
It's Facebook. It's Twitter. It's Instagram. It's Snapchat
Each of the different platforms has their own audiences, but, forget about that. Each of the individual social media platforms has their own mind space that a user is in when they are on them.
When a person is using Facebook, they are in a consumption mind frame. Typically, they are on there to get updated on what their friends and family, maybe see some pictures, see an interesting video and maybe post a photo themselves. A person using Pinterest is there to buy. They are looking at new and innovative products and are considering buying. A person on Twitter is there to get updated on recent happenings and to get direct comments from unattainable people on those comments.
Once you understand the way that your target audience is interacting with their chosen social media platforms, you will know where you need to be and how you need to be there. Once you have that information, it is almost like cheating.
Build Your Communities to Succeed
Having a community of supporters is a great way to make sure that you always have a customer base that you can use to grow. A community that is thriving around your brand, even if that only means that you have 5 people that are interacting regularly, will help your business grow organically and reliably.
Fostering community and interaction around your brand is a great way to learn about your audience. You get to read and see the way that they interact with each other, the way that they talk about your products or services, and you get to learn the language that they use to describe them as well. This can be an infinitely valuable tool to support your copywriting and marketing material development.
So how do you foster a community? Some basic things that you can do are use videos or images and ask for feedback or comment. Ask people to share your content. Have events or contests on your social platforms. Give your business personality and directly respond when people do interact on your profile. Passively posting and hoping that people comment or interact will never get you the community that you are looking for.
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Add Value to Your Customer's Social Media to Grow
Sprout Social recently published an article that included some data from a survey that showed that 49 percent of people that like a Facebook page do so because they want to support a brand that they care about. That is an extremely powerful thing. Building off of that type of support and providing value to a community that has already taken a specific action to support your brand is a great way to make sure that you have a brand ambassador for life.
What are some ways to add value? If you are Coca-Cola, you don't have to give away free cans of Coke. If you are a landscaper, you don't have to give away lawn care services or even spend a bunch of time building lawn care tips.
Do you want to stand out? Make them smile. Send a funny image or 20-second video. Say good morning. Be kind. Deviate your brand from the same corporate speak and make yourself personable and accessible. That will keep them coming back and thinking of you favorably. The three keys to getting someone to adopt your business is they have to know you, like you and trust you. Connecting with your community and being accessible is the best way to move through those stages.
"But that isn't going to help me sell widgets," says the business owner that I made up for this transition. Adding value to your customers will always, always help you sell more widgets.
So what are the action items and takeaways for building a better social media strategy that uses social media as more than just distribution channels?
- Identify who your audience is, how they want to be sold to, and where they want to be sold to
- Take advantage of the value that your customer sees in the social media platforms that they use and add value through personable posting and interactions to make yourself attainable and a friend
- Build a community through intentional interaction
- Use social media independently of one another and in a way that your audience intends to use it to gain traction and grow