Building an Online Following
Running a business without a social media presence is like running a marathon without shoes. You might limp across the finish line in the end but will probably be far behind your competitors and have done yourself a whole lot of damage along the way. Here are 6 steps to do social media right.
The first step is to establish a presence far and wide. Not all platforms are created equal and some may be more relevant to your product or service and your demographic than others. That does not mean they are entirely useless.
There is not one social media site of any significance that requires you to pay a fee simply for being on it. Elevate your online presence without spending a single dollar – there is literally nothing to lose.
Cross-promote across channels
Some social media platforms are more conducive to particular types of posts than others. That does not mean you choose one over the other – maintain consistency between posts and add a little signboard to encourage your fans on one social media app to visit your other feeds.
The perfect example is the ‘post your photo with our product’ type of promotion. Instagram gets the most engagement and shares of this type of content. Facebook does not but posting on your Fb page about the Instagram competition encourages fans to visit and interact with multiple channels. Again, it costs nothing but improves your social media strength.
Consumers value each other’s opinions more than they do flashy websites and professional sales talk. Think back to the last time you bought something online – most of us look at the description and pictures before going straight to the reviews.
That is true for everything from a multivendor marketplace to a car to shoes and even schools. When a product or service gets consistently positive reviews, it is a sign that people just like you used it and were happy to have laid down the money to do so.
What else matters
Establishing a presence across a whole swathe of social media channels is a good beginning but you quickly have to start making them work for you. The metrics that matter to a business vary by the product or service and by your goals.
Monitor your analytics to uncover which channel is most effective at driving the sales funnel. If you are getting a thousand Likes on your product image on Facebook but no one is subsequently buying the product, you will have to shift your focus to a platform with better ROI.
Target specific demographics
It may be harmless to cast your net wide to ensnare every possible customer but a targeted approach is better as you learn more about your audience.
Most businesses that deal in a specific genre or style of product or service find that the bulk of their revenue comes from clients who belong to a specific and easily identifiable group. This group may be unique for its age, locality, income, lifestyle or gender. Armed with this knowledge, you can craft a social media policy that appeals to them specifically.
Learn from the competition
Most businesses will find there is already a competitor doing well in the product or service niche with the desired target audience. Instead of reinventing the wheel, learn from their successes and failures. Whether it be using a virtual address business or taking photos with a specific filter.
Compare what you are doing to their model. If a rival is being complacent, for example, in neglecting their Instagram users, jump into the fray with the hashtags and posts that will entice those individuals to you. Look for weaknesses not only in stronger competitors but weaker ones, too.