(Originally written for a BNI Networking event)
Today I want to talk about the importance of social media in business. Customers today expect more than ever – a peek behind curtain so to speak. In this age of information and of conscientious consumerism, society has come to expect clear information and a closer relationship with whom they chose to patronize. The most successful ways of doing this that I have seen are;
– Consistently updating a Twitter account with short bios, anecdotes, special offers and competitions
– Maintaining a Facebook page filled with well presented photos, direct and open questions, surveys and more in depth information
– Responding to comments left by people who ‘like’ or ‘follow’ the business
Instagram, Youtube and Vine are also places that I have already seen exciting and unique campaigns with, like photos and videos. My favourite companies include Marvel, Glasgow Subway (SPT), Sugarpill Cosmetics and Yo Sushi – all these have memorable and exciting online presences even though they are vastly different companies with different needs. All manage to use these different platforms to cater to their target market while opening up successfully to a wider audience.
Often, in social media, the communication is informal and casual, giving a business a more easy going, approachable feel, creating loyalty through cultivating a more intimate relationship with its customer base. However, it is always useful to remember there is a difference between informal and personal, it is in the best interests of the business to maintain a level of professional decorum while remaining fun and engaging.
If you spend some time building a presence online you can find your business open to many more potential customers than you could otherwise find, capturing ‘likes’ and ‘followers’ who will share and retweet what you put out there – so think about what you want your online voice to be, and how you think people will respond to it. Check out big companies, as well as competitors – to see what they do and how well they do it. Gather ideas and information, and put them to the test, develop your own unique style. Consider what your name, trade and branding says about you – for example I would expect the Song & Dance Factory to be colourful and cheery, which they are; or ABC Debt Recoveries to be direct and to-the-point, again what they are. Both these examples have a strong and definitive voice throughout their social media output.
Plan ahead, take advantage of scheduling updates and factor in even a couple of minutes a day checking in. Soon it will be second nature and commonplace to use these methods, so get started and build your virtual voice! By giving your customers something to read, watch or listen to, you’re giving them access to a new way of knowing your business. By thinking about it, making it count, and being consistent, you will benefit from letting your customers see behind that curtain.