Social networking is the top online activity for the average American, with U.S. users spending an average of 37 minutes a day engaging with others online. In the last year alone, the number of social media users has increased by 176 million accounts. Across all networks, people are listening.
Is your brand taking advantage of all of those open ears? Probably not as much as it could be.
I can’t tell you the number of meetings I’ve been in where business owners tell me they have their bases covered on social media. Then, when I check their brand accounts later, I discover their most recent posts were made two years ago. With a social media strategy like this, they’re not helping their organizations.
A small business with social media savvy speaks the language of every platform fluently. That means it understands that every platform has its own nuances and knows what kind of posts on each network will be most attractive to its particular audience.
Effective use of social media requires constant analysis of past posts, tweaks to current strategies, and exploration of new tactics for the future. Perhaps most importantly, a small business with social media savvy uses social media networks to showcase its expertise and interact with potential customers.
Although it takes time to master social media messaging to become social media savvy, there is no doubt it pays off. Time magazine claims that social media is “the most powerful tool that any business owner can use to engage customers and drive revenue growth.”
Become Social Media Savvy
Eliminate Bad Social Habits
The first step in improving your social media acumen is to understand which behaviors are doing more harm than good. Below are a few areas where you might need to reconsider your strategy.
Lack of Engagement
Many small businesses use social media as a bullhorn and only post links to their newsletters or to other advertisements. Not only is this method ineffective, but it also makes it less likely that anyone is paying attention. Although it might have worked in the early days of social media, followers now expect and will respond to back-and-forth dialogue, not grandstanding.
I’ve already mentioned this, but it’s important. Merely securing your social media names and putting up fancy graphics is not enough. You must remain engaged and active on your accounts. An inactive account is a wasted opportunity and can reflect more poorly on your brand than if it had no social media presence at all.
Unfamiliarity with Network Culture
Small businesses may think they’re on top of the social media game, but they fall into this trap. They might use Buffer or other automated tools to schedule identical posts across all of their accounts. By doing so, they fail to understand that each network has its own culture and particular type of audience. To connect with them more effectively, play by the network’s terms and attract real notice.
Revamp Your Profiles
Once your small business has addressed its bad social habits, it’s time to home in on positive ways to use social media to boost your brand.
For example, a small burger joint in Ontario called Burger Revolution has successfully maximized its social media engagement on various networks through consistent customer interaction. Throughout the day, it highlights burger specials and posts how many it has left. These updates create a sense of urgency and excitement for customers that can inspire brand loyalty.
Burger Revolution is a great example of a small business maximizing social media — its tactics are unique, simple, and effective.
Here are some ways your brand can improve the effectiveness of its own social media presence:
Actively Monitor all Pages
Don’t just create a page, account, or other profile and forget about it. A recent survey from Sprinklr reports that consumers expect a reply from a company within an hour of a social media complaint. If you rely on scheduling software to post to your accounts, you’ll never even see these complaints, which can lead to poor customer satisfaction.
Listen for Opportunities
A lot of companies forget they can search Twitter and other platforms for keywords, which can be beneficial to an organization in a few ways. First, businesses can identify customer pain points and use them to solve other issues before they arise. They can also use keywords to inject themselves into consumer conversations and share valuable expertise or special offers — even when a potential customer hasn’t asked for it directly. Users may be pleasantly surprised and spread the word.
Make a Plan
Small businesses can’t just post a few ads and log off of their social accounts. They should have a plan in place for interacting with potential customers when the opportunity arises. A few interested employees might like to share the responsibility and hone their social media engagement chops in the process.
Social media is an unmatched tool for small businesses, but it’s also easy to get wrong. If companies take a step back and put some real thought and time into getting it right, the rewards will be exponential.
Social photo via Shutterstock