Using social media to grow your business
by Kyle King | November 28, 2018
There is no question the impact that social media has on society and its ability to instantly connect people together. According to the PEW Research Center, 68 percent of Americans use Facebook. As business owners, we need to ask ourselves whether we know how to use it as a tool to drive awareness, traction, and ultimately sales to your business.
As the technology evolves, so does the manner in which we need to understand its ability for businesses to attract customers.
Just as business owners develop a business plan to guide the success and growth of the organization, it is crucial to develop a social media plan to build awareness and brand identity. Social media has provided the ability for a business to connect with customers unlike ever before.
Fully understanding the target customer – their age, location, and interests – is crucial information when developing a social media plan. This information not only will assist in choosing which social media platforms to utilize but also assists in targeted marketing efforts.
For example, rather than allocating resources to drive awareness to the organization’s LinkedIn presence when the key customers are teenagers, one could utilize those resources on Instagram and Snapchat to drive brand awareness and sales.
When building presence on social media, it’s important to look at cultivating a conversation with customers rather than posting a barrage of advertisements. Why should a customer choose you over the competitor? This is an opportunity to directly tell the customer why.
In the realm of social media impressions, content is king. While planning and scheduling posts, it’s crucial to incorporate images or videos. Many of the platforms, following Facebook’s lead, are currently pushing users to utilize video more consistently as the viewing percentages are much higher than text-only posts.
The amount of content viewed on social media platforms is constantly growing. According to Facebook data from 2016, 100 million hours of video content are watched on Facebook daily. Not planning to incorporate digital collateral in the social media efforts would mean missing a large segment of the potential audience reach.
When finalizing the individual plans for each marketing effort, assuring there is a consistent message, voice, and branding standards will better create a cohesive plan to enhance awareness and traction for the company.
Consider the items below when creating a social media plan:
- Establish a consistent frequency of engagement to stay relevant
- Cultivate an ongoing conversation with content forward posts
- Use a consistent and common voice that targeted audiences can relate to
- Know the customer – Geo-target marketing efforts (age, location, personal interests)
- Continue to grow a following on the social pages
- Track what marketing efforts work and repeat them
Social media has become the vehicle for companies to individually engage and respond to their customers. According to Hootsuite research from 2016, a social media management company, 59 percent of Americans with social media accounts think customer service through social media has made it easier to get questions answered and issues resolved.
Having this ability to instantly respond to customer service-related issues comes with great responsibility at the same time. A simple comment or response can easily escalate the impact of a situation.
The words used in social media posted complaints rarely match the emotions of the situation. Therefore the company’s official response needs to be handled accordingly. It is key as a business to have a protocol for handling complaints. This will assure that the individual customer is taken care of, shows other potential customers that the organization cares about feedback, and will show a trend if similar feedback is received frequently.
Some important considerations when developing your social media response to criticism or complaints are:
- Respond immediately
- Acknowledge the customer’s concern
- Thank them for their feedback
- Offer to take the conversation offline to individually address the concern
As social media has a dominate position in the day-to-day lives of customers, having a proactive plan for outreach as well as a response procedure, is necessary for all types of business. Merely having a presence is not enough. The business must stay involved and actively engaged to get full use out of its social media platforms.
Florida SBDC at USF, Tampa
Specialty: Hospitality, Management, Marketing
Kyle King provides consulting and teaches seminars in the areas of starting a small business, marketing, and business planning. Before joining the Florida SBDC at USF, King had a successful career in the franchise hospitality and craft beer industries. As an area manager for an international hospitality company, King directed the local training efforts for all levels of the organization. He also planned and implemented grassroots marketing efforts to coordinate with national activation campaigns. King led his area of operators in an effort to elevate the level of financial and operational intelligence through a continual education program. As a general manager and business owner, King has years of hands-on business operations including but not limited to social media, human resources, business planning and detailed financial review. He has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Central Florida and has lived in Florida for the past 17 years. As an entrepreneur himself, he has owned and operated a food truck and catering business in the Tampa Bay area. King also serves as executive director for a local non-profit.