This column is authored by social media & marketing blogger Peter Ellington
For a long time – I treated social media as an afterthought for my business. I thought it was just for people to chat with their friends. I was making a huge mistake. What I didn’t realise was that having an active presence on social media could be huge for my business. When I finally stopped taking it for granted – my business started to see the benefits. We’re going to look at how.
You don’t just need a good website to keep up with the times
It wasn’t that I was someone who resisted the impact of computers. Even though I ran a bricks-and-mortar business – I still knew web presence was important. We’d had a good website and a modern IT system for a number of years – but our social media presence was pitiful. Just a Facebook page with no active engagement. There were a handful of friends on their and nobody in my business (including myself) ever really made an effort to connect with them.
I thought Facebook and other social media platforms were more for keeping in touch with friends and family. I’d noticed other businesses trying to push their social media accounts but I just thought they were being cynical and trying to invade people’s personal space.
Not having social media sends the wrong message about your business
More and more people were asking us about our Twitter account. There wasn’t much to say – because we didn’t have one. I ignored it at first – but then one afternoon, one of my members of staff was telling me about how he had a bad experience at another local business and had tweeted their customer service department to try and resolve it.
Everyone has complaints from time to time, and initially I was taken aback by how this had been made “public”. I thought it was bad publicity for that business and not something I would want for mine. But the way they dealt with the complaint really showed me something. They went above and beyond the call of duty – offered a genuine (and fast) response, and gave the complainer a free replacement product AND a discount on their next visit.
They turned a negative into a positive. Not only that but some other people who had nothing to do with the incident even retweeted the response to their friends. This actually used a complaint to get some marketing juice and improve other people’s opinion of their brand. It really got me thinking.
This member of staff of mine was actually really into their social media – so I decided to let them set up a few other accounts so we didn’t just have Facebook. I also empowered them to “look after” our social media presence. It’s good to have someone like this in your business if this sort of thing isn’t really your thing. All it really meant was that in quiet periods, they had something else to do – check our social media and engage with both current and potential customers.
When we started taking social media seriously and being active on Twitter and Facebook, I noticed our business slowly start to grow.
And it’s not just for complaints, either.
An active social media presence really says a lot about your business and it’s ability to keep up with the times. It’s also a great marketing tool.
You can create a two-way relationship with both existing customers and potential ones. We started sending out exclusive offers only to those who followed us on social media. It really helped take our business to the next level.
People want to feel valued on social media
People don’t want to just be treated as “customers” these days. They want to feel valued. Having an open communication channel with them means you can learn what they want, and adapt what you offer to suit them.
If someone “likes” you on social media, they’re going above and beyond simply spending money in your business – they’re telling their friends about it, too. This sort of marketing power was hard to come by before – and it could help spread your message virally at a fraction of the cost of expensive marketing campaigns. It also helps build brand loyalty and make sure your customers come back for more.
When we started taking social media more seriously, our sales went up noticeably. Actually – when we made social media a priority, we got quite a good local reputation for having great offers on Facebook and Twitter. This meant more and more people were hearing about us and following us who probably never would have paid us any attention before. It goes without saying, we reached new people that we wouldn’t have been able to before social media – and it meant a lot to me and my business.
While it’s important that you don’t neglect other parts of your business – it’s also important that you take social media seriously. It says a lot about your business if you do or don’t have a great social media presence – and it could be what you need to take your business to the next level. It sure was for mine.