Social media is often touted as a free way to promote your business. In reality, it can take a lot of time to do it right. This means money whether it is your time or the time of someone you hire.
You may believe, as many business owners do, that your social media campaign is not worth your time (money) because it is not living up to your expectations.
Here are some ways you can improve the return on your investment.
Share Your Knowledge
Do not use social media to just post information promoting your business. Put out something useful by sharing your knowledge with the online community.
Some ways you can do this are commenting on someone else’s blog, answering a question posted on LinkedIn, conducting a webinar, posting presentation slides, and writing your own blog.
Create a Conversation
Social media is about interacting with customers. Take action that encourages and nurtures a conversation. For example, ask questions on your Facebook page to begin a dialogue.
Solicit feedback through short polls or surveys. Ask customers for stories about how they use your product or about their business. Post pictures or videos and ask customers for feedback on them.
One way to really engage customers is through videos. You could set up your own YouTube channel and post videos about an event you participated in, employee recognition, “how to” information, or your products and services.
You could let customers see what happens in a typical day in your business. For example, a car detailer could create a video showing a customer’s vehicle going through the detailing process.
It is likely that your business is being talked about online without you ever seeing the conversation. Set up a Google Alert to be notified when your business is mentioned. You can also set up alerts on your competitors so you can see what is being said about them.
Listening to everything that is said on all your social media accounts can be a daunting task. Constant Contact offers a service called NutshellMail which sends you a scheduled email showing all your account activity on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and more. Another service, HyperAlerts, sends email reports on posts and comments on a Facebook page. You can also learn about feedback your competitors are receiving.
Respond Quickly and Effectively
Develop a plan for responding to any social media conversations that are taking place about your business. Show appreciation for positive feedback.
Do not ignore or be timid about negative conversations. Dealing with these well and in a timely manner can generate positive discussion concerning how you handled the situation. Develop an approach that is honest, open and personable.
Take Charge of Your Listings
Be aware that websites such as Google, Bing, Yahoo, Yelp, and others probably have your business listed whether you set up a listing or not. And most of these listings allow customers to create reviews about your business.
You need to claim your listings and be sure the information given out about your business is correct and that you respond to the reviews. You can go to getlisted.org to see how you and your competitors are listed and what is being said.
Participate in Relevant Groups
Consider joining relevant groups on the social media channels you use. These may be professional groups, industry groups, forums, or local groups. For example, if you are an environmental consultant and are on LinkedIn, you can search for relevant LinkedIn groups to join.
Encourage satisfied customers to go online and write reviews about your business on sites like Google, Yelp, CitySearch, or their favorite site. Ask that unhappy customers contact you directly so you can remedy the situation before it ends up online for everyone to see.
Offer incentives for customers to “like” you on Facebook, become your Twitter follower, etc. They can benefit by learning about exclusive discounts and promotions, receiving free products or services, receiving information and updates and in other ways.
If you have been using social media and not getting results, you can take action to change that. The above activities will take time (money) but they can help you significantly improve your overall return on your social media promotion efforts.
Connie Edwards is a business consultant with The University of Georgia’s Small Business Development Center. Contact her at 912-651-3200.
Edwards, Connie (2011, September 21). Get More Out of Social Media. Business in Savannah.