The key to mastering social media is knowing what you need to do—and what you don’t.
If you’ve been too busy starting or running your business to take a good look at social media, you’re in good company: About a quarter of small-business owners have yet to incorporate social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn into their digital marketing programs.1
A thoughtful social media plan built around your firm’s goals can support each stage of business development, including:
- Increasing brand awareness—without a hard sales pitch. Did you know 53% of consumers surveyed say that they don’t trust what they read on social media2? That said, you should chip away at their suspicion with engaging, value-added content that avoids overt sales pitches
- Building customer relationships with targeted content and person-to-person interactions that lead to repeat sales, upselling, and referrals
- Maintaining a customer service dialogue to address problems and avoid dissatisfaction
One size does not fit all.
Not all social media outlets are right for a particular business. An inexperienced law firm, tech consultancy, or other professional services business might score big with blogs on LinkedIn while the same firms’ posts could go “un-liked” on Facebook. On the other hand, a restaurant may find that Facebook and Instagram are the best platforms to bring in new diners.
Becoming a social media butterfly.
To succeed with social media, be sure to:
- Tune in to the right channel(s). Where are your customers, current and future, spending the most time online?
- Be realistic. It takes time (and money) to maintain a consistent flow of content–and posting at least a few times a week, if not more, to build an effective following
- Be ready to communicate. Social media mavens engage with their customers and prospects–even the trolls and hecklers. For example, you could either adopt a zero-tolerance policy for troublemakers or choose to respond to them private
- Determine your social media goals. Some businesses may want only to build brand awareness–others may want a quantifiable means of converting prospects into customers
- Use the SMART system. Are your goals specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely?
- Integrate. Many experts suggest integrating your social media marketing with your customer relationship management (CRM) system to monitor leads
What to ask yourself
Whether you’re doing this on your own, working with a digital media consultant, or just getting advice from another businessperson, ask these questions:
- How much time and money are you able to commit, and for how long? Building an audience takes at least several months of care and feeding
- Do you need help? Can your staff pitch in to write posts, based on their areas of expertise? If you hire a writer with social media expertise, ask for recent case studies of the writer’s successes
- Will you need to clear your content with your lawyer? Some heavily regulated industries, like finance and healthcare, either have self-imposed restrictions on social media postings or are subject to government regulations that limit postings. Create social media guidelines for your team to avoid any media mishaps
While social media is a commitment, you can start small and ramp up as you chart your activity, and, hopefully, successes. But whatever you do, keep it fresh: Current, engaging posts will build return traffic, helping you to achieve your desired brand awareness and/or sales goals.
Talk with an M&T Business Banking relationship manager to get more insights on starting a new venture. Visit a branch or call us at 1-800-724-6070.
This article is for informational purposes only. It is not designed or intended to provide financial, tax, legal, investment, accounting, or other professional advice since such advice always requires consideration of individual circumstances. Please consult with the professionals of your choice to discuss your situation.