We live in a social world. Nowadays, when we want to know what’s happening with our friends or in the news, or we want to learn more about a company or a product we’re interested in, we turn to investigate via social media. In fact, according to the Pew Internet Project, 74 percent of online adults use social networking sites. And Globalwebindex says 47 percent of all online time is spent on social media. So what does that mean for your business? It means if you aren’t reaching your target audiences where they are (social media), you may not be reaching them at all.
The social media landscape has gotten increasingly broad over the past decade — there are more technologies than we know how to use, more platforms than we know what to do with and more people to reach than ever before. Just thinking about how social media fits into your marketing strategy can get overwhelming, but if you start with a plan that works for your business’ goals, the benefits can be long lasting.
Increase Your Business’ Brand Awareness
You want people to know about your company and its offerings, and you want them to recognize it as a leader in the industry, so when they are looking for services, you are top of mind. By using social media, you can showcase the uniqueness of your business, as well as your value, by sharing information relevant to your audience. You can also expand your reach by tapping into conversations related to your industry via hashtags and connecting with influencers who can help spread your message to a broader audience.
Position Yourself as the Go-To Expert
When you post content that inspires, informs, entertains and educates your audience, you are helping establish credibility for your company and showing you have expertise in your field. And while it’s important to share your own content — the stuff you create — it’s also beneficial to share the content of other experts in your industry or a related field. This shows your audience you care about them, and you’re more concerned about providing value than self-promotion.
Interact with the People who Matter
Your customers, potential customers, industry influencers and partners — here’s your chance to connect with all of them in real-time. While face-to-face meetings and phone calls still prove to be extremely crucial when building relationships, social media can help as well. Through your networks and on the social channels you choose to use, it’s easy to build a community between your business and the people who are most interested in learning about it.
Enhance the Customer Experience
Surely one of the biggest concerns of those who do not use social media is the potential for negative comments from followers. But this is also one of the biggest opportunities. While your social media policy (which you should have if you plan to incorporate a social aspect into your marketing) should clearly outline how to deal with less-than-ideal comments, you can use this as your chance to answer any questions, address customer concerns and correct inaccurate information. Solving a problem and making it easier for someone to interact with your business will improve your company’s image.
Using social media in your marketing can give your business great returns, but remember you need a strategy in place and it takes time to build a strong following. Be flexible and realistic in your goals, and you’ll be sharing in no time.
FRANCES MOFFETT is editor at the Automotive Oil Change Association. For more information on membership in AOCA, call 800.230.0702 or visit: www.aoca.org
Eight Tips for Getting Started
Once you’ve defined your objectives and goals with using social media in your marketing, you’ll need to start planning and posting. Here are eight ideas to keep in mind as you begin that process:
1. Be human. Oftentimes, we resort to unnatural, professional jargon and buzzword-filled voice when we post on social media. Ditch that approach and speak as if you were having a normal conversation.
2. Be concise. Keep posts clear and to-the-point.
3. Post frequently. Develop an editorial calendar to help you stick to posting regularly, whether it’s once a day or once a week.
4. Use images. Your fans and followers are more likely to engage with content on social media that contains pictures. Share behind-the-scenes pictures, quotes and infographics.
5. Give offers. Offering discounts or other specials to your customers will help you reel them in and can increase their engagement with you socially.
6. Share advice or other nuggets of wisdom and industry knowledge. This will help position your business as an expert in the industry.
7. Don’t talk about yourself too much. If your social media sites are only promoting your company and its offerings or services, people will eventually tune you out.
8. Track your successes and failures. It is important to keep track of how your posts are performing. This step tells you what works and what doesn’t and will help with future planning.