Do You Have What it Takes?
Social media sites can be daunting for the beginner marketer or small business owner. Social media is no longer optional - Twitter users are 6% more likely to purchase from a brand by simply being exposed to the company's content. Each sites' interfaces are so different, and it can often feel like they are populated by small armies of vengeful peasants with pitchforks. But they are by all accounts, one of the most effective ways to connect with like-minded people and prospects, preferably sans pitchfork. Here are some basic skills that business owners should master on social media:
1. Cool the Rage
Business owners should be able to interact with readers and casual commenters on sites like Twitter and Facebook without becoming defensive. There's no shortage of both intelligent criticism and internet trolls! If you respond hastily or angrily to criticism, your rage (instead of your work), will become the focus of your social media pages.
83% of social media users have stopped making a purchase due to poor customer service on social channels - and they tell on average of 53 people about the negative experience. Social media can be an unfriendly place littered with misspelled insults, but it can also be a group-hug where you salvage relationships. Just acknowledge that both are possible, and be sure to anticipate both. The best way to respond to irrational hate messages or mail is to be polite, offer resolution and move on.
2. Be Active
No one likes to see a dead Twitter profile or Facebook page, it's tragic. You will be unfollowed and ignored if you aren't posting actively. It's not like the diary that you stopped keeping after two weeks in sixth grade; you don't have to write a novel on your pages, but be active. People tend to pay attention to and click-through to the blog that's always popping up on their "feed."
You should aim to post on your social media pages daily. HubSpot recommends you post once an hour to Twitter and every other hour to Facebook and adjust frequency according to what works best for your followers. You can be active without spamming your followers. Find your perfect pace and get used to using scheduling tools and putting out content even when you're away from the computer.
3. Know Your Readers
You wouldn't walk into a karaoke bar and try to start a dance off, so don't post blindly on social media sites without seeing how other people in your field write and interact with their prospects. What kind of content does your blog have? Check out writers of similar content and follow them. Learn what's trending and what people are most excited about.
Who is getting all of the retweets when they talk about a similar subject? Work on imitating their style and "fitting in" with the tone of your niche on social media
4. Become a Pro
Twitter, Tumblr, Linkedin, Pinterest and Facebook. I'm just getting started! There are a lot of social media sites to become acquainted withe. Start out with a few you are interested in, and spend some time getting to know the site and their users before you start posting up a storm. You may find that only a few kinds of social media sites work for your goals. Go with them!
Don't worry about being a presence on every social media page. It's better to use just one really well than maintain a spotty presence on every site. Use the ones that work for you and use them well - 0.05% of Twitter's members attract almost 50% of attention on the channel.
5. Don't Be a Salesman
No matter what you are writing about, make sure that your social media interactions don't sound like a cheesy, low-budget commercial for yourself. Be authentic and make real connections; that is what social media is about.
Add some personal details to balance out a bunch of links and "read this" arrow signs to your blog or web page. Your audience is inviting your brand into their Facebook or Twitter feed, and they don't want to feel like they've just invited a creepy car salesman into their kitchen. Avoid this approach and engage in real conversations.
Yes, this may all seem like instructions for fitting in on the first day of school. But as a business owner entering into a social media realm, you are trying to reach out to people to use social media in a very personal way. So yes, it is a little like entering a cafeteria with no friends at first. But as mothers around the world tend to say, in order to make friends, you must be friendly.
Image Credit: freedigitalphotos.net/photostock
Sunday Avery is a Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Tumblr fanatic. She recently joined the IMA team as our resident social media manager. Connect with her on Twitter: @LuckySundays.