Online social mediums are by no means the domain of teenagers or unproductive workers. These days company websites are littered with ‘Follow Us’ buttons linking to the more popular social mediums while countless print, radio and TV advertisements tell the viewer to follow on Facebook, Twitter and so on.
These days many small, medium or large businesses can take advantage of social media to increase their online presence and reach a greater audience with only a few basic steps.
Firstly though, what are ‘online social mediums’?
Unless you’ve been disconnected from the net for a number of years now, you should be familiar with some of the aforementioned web sites. Not only does social media give individuals a voice and a way of connecting with like-minded people, they allow businesses to create their own pages and accounts and connect with customers. This allows them to share new information and provide new avenues for both customer feedback and support.
How can a company take advantage of social media?
For small and local businesses, creating a Facebook page or Twitter account is a cheap and easy way to advertise and develop a web presence (a must have in the 21st century) and seed it amongst friends and possible local customers.
If you’re a larger business, these online social mediums provide a new and popular way to connect with your audience in a two-way fashion, with all conversations made visible to the world.
So how does one get started?
Simply create accounts on the social mediums you want to appear on, then put up a description and convince a few friends to follow you. This will show up in the news feeds of their friends and if they have an interest in your products or services, they too will follow you as well.
Very similar to the infamous theory behind ‘6 degrees from Kevin Bacon’, there can quickly be hundreds or thousands of people around the globe seeing your business name pop up in their feeds.
You can also put some links or buttons on your websites, newsletters and other communications to help increase the visibility of your social media pages to existing customers.
How do we keep growing our social media presence?
If you leave it at a stagnant page or account, there isn’t much reason for people to start or keep following you. You need to make a page interesting for the audience in some manner. On a simple level, this can be done by providing interesting and customer-focused updates. Drive conversation and comment by asking questions or requesting feedback about new products, services or campaigns. Give sneak peeks of things to come or run small competitions/giveaways.
Make sure you also reply to comments or messages directed at you, this helps increase the view that you are using social media as a two way medium and not simply an advertising platform. These small things can drive audience participation and increase the chance they will talk about it with their friends and pass on the word about your page.
Larger companies with a bigger budget can also look at bigger competitions, sometimes driven by applications on the chosen social medium. These can have bigger prizes and be based on people liking photos or comments and the entrants will often recommend their friends follow or like your companies page to give them a bit more of an edge while increasing your readership.
Is there any ‘wrong’ way to do it?
Yes, very much so. Making the wrong kind of splash in social media can damage a company’s reputation in a very public way. Spamming updates continuously can fill up follower’s news feeds and make you seem more like a spam-bot then a company that understands the medium.
Respect that some customers may have dissenting views about your company and address their concerns if they arise. Removing or ignoring unfavorable comments can quickly draw a lot of ire from the wider community. Show yourself as a company willing to take user feedback on board and use it to improve the experience for both the customer and the company.
What does all of this lead to?
Reputation, brand awareness and trust. This puts you in the mind of your followers and when they come to needing your product or services, it can give you an edge over your competition.