When you set up a small business, there are so many things to take into consideration – and social media may not always be at the top of your list. But these days you need to be on board with such key communication channels, to make sure you really stand out from your competitors.
As well as being a great way to engage with customers, having the right online presence also gives your business real gravitas. It makes you seem current, transparent and approachable and it helps build relationships – which can be really advantageous.
So, where do you start?
If you’re new to social media and you’re not sure where to begin, how can you make sure you get on the right track? We’ve put together a few foolproof tips to help you – so there’s really no excuse not to set plans in motion.
But first, let’s take a look at why good communication, more generally, is so important.
The importance of good communication
Good communication is essential when you run a business – and that means having effective two way conversations. You need to make sure potential customers are fully aware of the benefits of your product or service and that you always listen to what they tell you.
It’s also an important way to relationship build within the business community – so remember to think of the situation as holistically as possible.
Reaching your market
Ensure you employ the best channels to reach your target market and always use the right language to engage people effectively. And, importantly, in every interaction you have on behalf of your business – be clear, consistent and courteous at all times.
Why use social media?
Social media channels provide you with an immediate, cost free method of communicating directly with people. And your choice of sites, and the way you communicate on them, can make a huge difference to your business’s future success.
It’s worth investing some time to learn basic techniques and develop a social media strategy wherever possible. Consider your customers’ core needs when you do this – what they want, when you’re most likely to reach them and how you can help.
Plan your time carefully – and prioritize
Don’t overestimate how much time you can devote to social media – sites need to be maintained regularly, so remember to plan carefully. A neglected looking site can be more damaging to your business’s reputation than none at all – so focus your energies on what will work best for you.
Do you think your customers are more likely to use Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, for example? And, if you start your own blog, it will need work to raise and maintain its visibility – so you need to think carefully about how you focus your energy. With so many conflicting priorities on your hands, you don’t want to neglect anything else that’s important, after all.
Once you’ve considered the best sites to use – how do you determine the right way to speak to your customers on social media?
Let’s have a look at some tricks and tips to get you started…
Use an authentic voice
There’s been a lot of debate recently about how well we respond to a message we feel is authentic, both in business and current affairs.. And it’s something you need to consider when you begin to think about your social media strategy – and in every aspect of promotion.
You want to find a voice that’s right for you, and your brand, to really get your message across successfully – so here are some useful tips:
- Don’t be tempted to copy the way other people communicate – it never feels right, to you or your customers.
- Try not to use words or expressions you wouldn’t do normally, and think carefully about the person you’re trying to reach.
- Picture your customer and how you’d speak if you met them – and use that same style when you first start to post.
Know your market
If you read some sites’ tips on business promotion, you might feel put off, or think social media won’t be right for your brand. But there’s not a ‘one size fits all’ solution – if a style is not right for you or your business, then it won’t sound genuine or connect with your customers.
It’s worth doing a bit of research to find other social media voices who speak in a way that feels more relatable. That can inspire you to think about how you’ll find your own style – one that really fits and feels right for your business.
If you follow this advice, think you’ve found the right voice but it’s not effective immediately, think for a moment before you start to change tack. Look at what works, by checking your site analytics – see who engages and what that might tell you. Are you posting at the best time to reach the right people, or does your site just need a little time to pick up more engagement?
Try to build good relationships and strong online networks and make sure your voice has the best chance to get heard. The best communication is not all one way traffic, after all, it’s a genuine two way conversation that works well for everyone.
The key to getting it right is just to be honest and understand your audience – then you’ll soon start to make those valuable connections.
Increase your visibility
If you’ve already got a website set up for your business, blogging is a great way to extend its visibility and promotional reach. But what is the current thinking on the right way to do this – and how can you emulate those ideas on best practice?
The power of SEO
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and it basically means using words and techniques that help your site rank more highly. So more people see it.
We will only be able to cover the basics in this post, but there’s lots of information available online if you want to delve deeper. In essence, you need to think about user intent – what your customer wants – and then make sure you’re using the right words to help them find you. It’s as straightforward as that, at the core of SEO theory.
What might people type into a search engine to look for your business – or any business that offers your product or service? Make sure the content of your blog includes those words and phrases – and also lots of related ones, where possible.
Include these in headings, sub headings and image titles – and also include in metadata and meta descriptions attached to your pages. If this is all getting a little bit technical, don’t worry, there are lots of experts out there to help you.
It might be worth considering getting outside help at this stage so you can find out here about what would work best for you. As we said earlier, it’s all very well trying to do everything yourself. But sometimes expert advice can prove cost effective – and help you best focus your own energy properly.
Other key SEO tips are to keep your sites clean looking and uncluttered, use large images and make sure navigation is user friendly. Try to offer facilities for customer feedback and then add recommendations – it all helps improve those important site rankings.
Just as with all areas of communication, it’s about anticipating customer needs and exceeding expectations wherever possible.
And that brings us neatly on to the next subject…
As a business owner, you should always say what you mean and do as you say – that’s really a given. And when you’re dealing with customers, it’s important you never let them down – that applies as much to social media as it does in personal interactions.
You might be aware of the phrase ‘under promise and over deliver’ and that’s also a key tip to employ wherever you can. So if a customer asks you on Twitter when an order will be ready, suggest a day or time that’s slightly later than you expect – then you’ll never disappoint, just delight every time.
Your customers are the lifeblood of your business – so always remember to show how much you appreciate them. Just one negative experience can turn a customer away from your business, which is a wasted opportunity. But, conversely, a great experience builds trust, loyalty and develops bonds that benefit everyone, including your business.
Make sure your social media sites reflect this and take every opportunity to thank people for their custom. Offer incentives and use special occasions to say something publicly about how much you value them.
Now it’s your turn
We hope this post has given you some valuable insight into how you can start to make your business’s social media presence really stand out. With a little bit of thought and planning you can make these communication channels work effectively for you – and see your success soar.