If you’re reading Marketing Tech Blog, chances are someone has clued you in already to the fact that it’s going to be more important than ever to get your business social this year. A recent survey we conducted for GrowBiz Media revealed that 40% of small to midsized business decision-makers plan to use social media in 2012. I recently heard a guest on Business Insanity Radio Talk Show suggest that all sales people be given their own company social accounts (Twitter, Facebook, etc), so that their clients have a fast, easy, transparent way to reach them at all times.
There are few, if any, hard and fast rules about using Social Media. My job as the Social Media Marketer for Zoomerang, and now SurveyMonkey, means that I’ve learned a thing or two about what works and, more importantly, what doesn’t. The secret to Social Media Success is being open to trying new things, measuring your results, and using the metrics to figure out what works for you, your brand, and your audience. But I have 4 simple steps to get you started:
1. Don’t Assume. Ask
The secret to building a big social following is to deliver relevant, interesting content to your audience. But how can you create great content if you don’t know who your audience is? Ask! Create a simple survey and send it out to your followers, fans, and customers. Zoomerang and SurveyMonkey offer tons of free templates that you can customize by adding pictures, your logo, and company colors.
Ask who your customers are, how they’re using your product or service, and how satisfied they are. The more you know about your customers and what they want, the better you’ll be able to provide them with information they find useful and interesting.
2. Promote, Promote, Promote
Creating great content is the most important step, but it is only the first step. Once you’ve created that content, you have to promote it as far and wide as possible. That means Tweeting about it, posting it on your Facebook page, and relevant Linkedin group pages. Remember the 80-20 rule, which says that you should be responding to other people’s content 80% of the time, and promoting your own content just 20% of the time. It’s a natural rule of thumb—no one wants to hear self-promotional mumbo jumbo all day long.
But in practice you can blur the line a little bit, and it goes both ways. Comment on a blog or one of your fan’s Facebook posts, and if it’s relevant, include a link to your site. Re-tweet information that other people in your industry have said, if it’s not direct competition and will be useful to your customers. Check out Linkedin Answers, and when someone has a problem which your service or product could help solve, offer it. Just make sure you return the favor by commenting, re-tweeting, and liking your fair share (80%).
3. Outbound Marketing Is Soo 2011
These days it’s all about Inbound Marketing, which should come naturally once you’ve mastered steps 1 and 2. By providing your customers with interesting, relevant information, and promoting it through the right channels, it won’t take long before you’ve established yourself as a trusted expert in your field. People will come to your auto company blog, not just when they want to buy a car, but when they want to know what people are saying about 2012 models. They’ll start spending more time on your site, and get used to checking it since they know you post regularly (nudge nudge, wink wink). Your sales will correlate with the amount of time people are coming to your site, and that will correlate with how well you’re doing steps 1 and 2.
4. Don’t Fear The Negative: Be Proactive!
A lot of SMB decision-makers I talk to are afraid that going social will open them up to all kinds of negative publicity. I’ve experienced this first-hand—hardly a week goes by where there isn’t a peeved customer venting on our Facebook page, whether it’s directly related to our product or not. This can be scary, I know, but you have to remember that customers appreciate the risk you’re taking by putting yourself out there like that, and they will respect you for it. At the end of the day, they’re going to be more suspicious of the company that hasn’t taken the social plunge than one that occasionally catches some heat on their Twitter page. And for every disgruntled customer, we have 5 satisfied ones posting their satisfaction with our product. Their comments are more beneficial to our brand than the negative ones are hurtful.
Just remember to deal with feedback in a timely, positive manner. The customer may not always be right, but whatever frustration they’re feeling is justified, so acknowledge that, and provide helpful action steps they can take to rectify the situation. And not all feedback will be negative! When someone pays you a compliment, thank them for it, and ask them if they’d be willing to do a customer success story with you. They get their voice (and brand) out there, you get their organic endorsement, and everybody wins.
I hope these 4 tips help to get you started on your quest to be social! Please comment your feedback, other tips, or any questions you have! Happy socializing!