Yes, I know. I do brick and mortar. But hey, it’s 2019, and the reality is that we all need to have a strong online component to what we do. For some of us, that can mean a website and perhaps dipping our toes into selling online. For all of us, it means we’d better have our social media game on point. This month, let’s look at how to dominate our current and potential customers’ feeds.
Identify Your Objectives
Before diving into the social media pool, carefully identify up to three objectives you’d like to accomplish on the platforms you will be using. Too often, businesses just start posting because they are motivated by the fear that, if they don’t get on board, they will be left behind. But like any other brand building or advertising you do, social media has to help you reach your objectives (and your audience), or you’re just wasting time. For business, social media is not just a megaphone from which you broadcast your daily activities; it is a powerful tool that will help spread your message to prospective customers while engaging and increasing sales with the ones you currently have.
Create a Calendar
Posting more consistently will get you more consistent results. Plan your posts well ahead of time by creating an implementation timeline to meet your objectives. Start with the big picture, perhaps a six-month plan. Then, further break down each campaign, or type of post, by the quarter, month and, finally, the week. Research the best time for your posts on each platform you use, and build that into your calendar. When planning, be sure to allocate time for creating the content, along with the timing of your posts. This way, you can create a strategy that will net you great results with less time and effort.
Build Your Authority
If you’re like me, you hesitate to call yourself an expert. After all, I learn new things every day. Still, I’ve been at this music store thing well in excess of 20 years. The team at our shop has hundreds of years of combined experience, and our business has been serving our community for more than 50 years. This is a message we should not hesitate to share. Customers place a lot of faith in what they read online. Use your social media presence to fortify the idea that your business can be trusted. Find ways to demonstrate to your audience that your staff has the experience and expertise to provide helpful solutions, advice, and a great shopping and buying experience.
Start a Conversation
Think about driving engagement by asking your audience questions and responding to them. Be mindful that conversation is a two-way communication between people. We strive to make a human connection between our team and those interacting with our social media posts. It’s very important to remember when working with platforms like Facebook, that the algorithms they use are geared to reward posts that have interaction. If your business posts something, but no one responds, then it’s likely Facebook won’t place it in many feeds. After all, these platforms are industries unto themselves. They are in the business of keeping eyes on their website or app, and they can only do that by showing posts and stories that people find interesting. Complicating this is the fact that several platforms have announced their algorithms will be evolving to favor content from friends over companies. By building posts designed to engage folks in conversation, your content may have a better chance of crossing over into personal feeds.
So, here’s some truth: Social media is not all about you. It’s a common mistake for a business’ posts to become a monologue where they tell the world about all the awards they’ve received, the great sale prices they are offering, or an explosion of product pictures and reviews. In fact, your social media is the opportunity for you to connect with the people who have helped and supported you in a meaningful way. If you think about the most important people in your business world — your customers, suppliers and staff — social media allows you to recognize and thank them. So, take the time to give recognition to their posts and tweets; like, follow, and share their messages. It’s your way of saying, “We’re in this with you.” More importantly, they will appreciate the gesture, and continue to support you and your business.
The thing to remember about social media is that it’s personal. Always strive to have your posts reflect your personal brand. In this column, we often discuss embracing the “different” that makes you and your business who and what you are. In a world of social media noise, you need to stand out to be remembered. You need to convey your “different” in your content. Get above the din by embracing and sharing your “different.” You can’t fake this. Be honest in identifying the things that make you unique, then shout them out to the Twitterverse.
Create Short Attention Span Theater
In the social media world, three seconds is an eternity. It’s imperative that you use photos or eye-catching video in your posts. Product photos are great, but also be sure to include plenty of photos or video of your staff. Doing so personalizes your content and can mean that even first-time visitors will see a familiar, friendly face when they visit your shop. Instagram is excellent for this type of posting.
The Old Tools Are Still Good Tools
Advertising on social media can be lucrative, but like traditional advertising, it will require an investment in both time and money. Not every campaign will be a home run. Accept the learning curve and take the long view. Begin by identifying exactly what you want to accomplish, just as you would with more traditional advertising. Paying too much attention to metrics, such as likes, follows or impressions, is a mistake. When advertising, use tools like Facebook Lead Ads so you can track results. A traditional evaluation that measures the ad spend vs. sales or leads generated is more appropriate than counting likes when evaluating an ad campaign. I do this; so should you.