If you are like many small businesses, then you’ve already begun to integrate social media activities into your marketing efforts. But marketing on social media and driving results through social media do not necessarily go hand-in-hand. It’s entirely possible to grow an active following online- with lots of Facebook fans, Twitter followers, email subscribers, and even good reviews on Yelp- without seeing an increase in your businesses’ profits. When this happens, I often advise businesses to take a step back to make sure they are adhering to the most important elements turning social engagement into action:
Focus your messages.
You may offer a lot of products and services, but if you focus on your differentiation you’ll be able to demonstrate your expertise and dominate a market segment. For example, a retailer specializing in tennis gear can show customers how to use the latest equipment, offer tennis classes, and write about topics such as “what to look for when buying new tennis sneakers.” These actions will draw in customers looking for specific equipment and, while they’re shopping, they’ll discover other products and services offered by the retailer.
Be responsive to everyone who engages with you.
It’s human nature to respond to the most positive and the most negative comments yet the majority of your customers are going to fall in the middle of those two extremes. Knowing this, you should always respond when a customer engages with you – even if they’re making a small gesture such as a “Like” or re-tweet. Your actions can be as simple as thanking them for sharing your content, responding to their comments, or sending a brief, personalized note when they subscribe to your newsletter.
Ask for referrals.
When a satisfied customer raves about your business, that’s the time to ask if they wouldn’t mind letting their friends know about you or if they’d be willing to provide a quote for your website or newsletter. As a more proactive tactic, identify your long-standing customers and vocal fans and ask if they wouldn’t mind helping spread the word by forwarding articles from your newsletters or commenting on your Facebook page.
Remember that many social media participants read more than they post. Yet if you are focused, responsive and transparent about growing your business, you’ll be able to transform your online presence into profit.
Looking for more tips on social media success? Check out my session at this year’s ASBDC conference.
Constant Contact’s Ron Cates and is one of the country’s top email and social media marketing experts. He has supported small business for decades and has an extensive background in financial development and marketing for non-profit organizations. A digital marketing pioneer, Ron has educated nearly 100,000 small businesses on behalf of Constant Contact, and has presented at hundreds of high-profile conferences and events. Millions have read his written articles, and his radio shows on email marketing and social media are among the most popular on the Internet.