With the ability to target millions of people at once, everything about social media is a small business owner’s marketing fantasy.
Too many jump in with both feet, though, hoping to pick it up as they go and instead end up frustrated and with little to show for their efforts. When done right, social media can be an incredibly valuable tool.
Customers Want to Connect
People are familiar with using social media to chat with their friends, share photos with family and catch up on the news, but fewer are aware they can connect to their favorite brand just as easily.
The idea of interacting with brands is gaining steam, according to American Express’s 2014 Global Customer Service Barometer. In 2012, only 17 percent surveyed said they had used social media to contact their favorite store or brand’s customer service; in 2014 that number was 23 percent.
Despite their trust in the platform, social media users aren’t always getting the service they want. Only 21 percent say they always get an answer to their inquiries or have their problem solved. A full 35 percent say they rarely or never get an answer or a resolution. That’s a lot of opportunity to increase your value to your social media followers.
Improving Your Social Media Marketing
No matter what anyone tells you, there are basically two secrets to social media: being social and knowing your audience. Anything else builds on these two ideas.
Knowing your audience may be the harder of the two — especially if you don’t already have a defined demographic. Who visits your eCommerce shop? Is it younger people, older people, people with a particular interest? Social media is a world of niches, for best success you absolutely have to define yours.
Being social is another thing entirely, but knowing your audience makes it easier. Marketers have traditionally approached customer interactions as immediate sales opportunities, but social media marketing isn’t built on this principal. Instead of pushing a product, the idea is to build a relationship between you and the customer. Gallup found that a fully engaged customer is worth 23 percent more than an average customer, so it’s worth your time to consider a social media campaign.
Social media is about giving information, telling stories and entertaining your audience. The idea is that by providing opportunities to discuss your new products or the state of your niche, your customers will come to see you as a brand they know and trust. You can think of it as a form of brand marketing. Great social media marketing engages and delights; pushy, sales-oriented marketing on social media does just the opposite.
Doing social media right means thinking about marketing in a different way entirely. Instead of selling, you’re giving in the hopes that your audience will recognize the value and turn to you when they’re ready to buy. Be prepared for those sales by forming a partnership with a 3rd party logistics company that can do your warehousing and distribution as you grow — otherwise you risk losing those hard-earned customers to slow shipping and mishandled returns.