Once upon a time, customer relationships could only be developed face-to-face.
Now, with social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and others, businesses and organizations of all sizes are finding other extremely effective ways to build rapport, connections and trust – digitally, according to SCORE Chester & Delaware Counties.
Every communications channel you use to network with your customers serves a slightly different purpose. Each message you post online gives you a chance to get personal with your audience and show them how you can make a difference.
- Your blog is a great tool for educating your audience.
- Your newsletter can inform customers and prospects about company events and initiatives.
- Your social media channels allow you to personalize your brand, to gain followers.
- Your followers can share your story, become more intrigued with your offering…eventually be a loyal customer.
This ability to make a personal connection is especially good news for small business owners and their teams who are often better positioned than large corporations to demonstrate an authentic passion for the work they do.
People like engaging with brands they know, like and trust.
Social media marketing can help your business focus on increasing brand awareness and establishing brand trust. Trust in you often extends to trust in the products or services you sell. You develop followers who are interested in what you bring to the market, your solution, your approach, your story.
More than ever, social platforms are the perfect place to build genuine personal connections with your audience. The key is by building a solid social media presence on platforms that your audience uses on a regular basis.
When managing social media accounts for your business, it’s best not to put all your eggs in one basket or be burdened with trying to post on all of them.
Experts recommend starting with two platforms, focusing on the audiences you’re trying to attract.
Pinterest and Instagram are visual platforms, so if your business creates great images then you should consider having a presence on these platforms.
For consultants, Twitter and LinkedIn are good choices for building your credibility and interacting with potential clients.
Having a Facebook presence is often a safe bet since it is the largest social network where you can reach the most people.
Recent data* indicate that 78% of businesses in financial services, healthcare, government, and higher education consider Facebook the most effective platform. (*According to a recent trends survey by Hootsuite, the leading social media management software tool.)
What works best for you will likely depend on your business model and industry. For instance, 87% of business-to-business (B2B) brands report that LinkedIn is most effective, while 89% of retail companies prefer Instagram.
Businesses are constantly creating content to replace in-person events and traditional advertising, so online competition is tough.
For small businesses, however, social media presents a massive opportunity if your brand and your messages stand out. That means experimenting, innovating and testing will be key to social media success in 2021.
Here are five ways to use social platforms to your advantage:
Share Your Brand’s Story
Every person, every brand has a story to tell. Stories are powerful ways to create emotional connections with your followers, especially stories about what inspired you to start your business.
Let Your Followers Get to Know Your Team
People buy products, but they connect with people. Let your followers meet the experts on your team and learn how they contribute to the products or services your followers love.
Social success is about being authentic and letting people see and hear the true personality of your business. Write posts that read like your voice. Use words and phrases the way you would if you were having a conversation with a customer.
Create a Conversation
Be clear and genuine on social media and use these platforms to talk directly to your customers and prospects. Reply to their comments and questions. Follow their accounts and comment on posts you enjoy. There’s no better way to personalize your brand than to create a dialog.
Engage with Content That’s Bigger than Your Brand
Create social content – topics, storylines, testimonials – that educates and invites a discussion. It’s about more than just you and your organization.
Use your platform like a stage as a way to share information your followers find interesting and relevant. Beyond words, let them see photos, data, videos and all the different ways you can convey your story.
Post content about causes or news that is important to your business’ purpose.
Show support for your followers’ messages by sharing and commenting. Social media platforms give brands the ability to connect and build relationships with customers and prospects in ways that never existed before now.
Before you begin posting, develop a well-thought-out social strategy to create engaging content and develop messages that are thoughtful, memorable, genuine.
When you’re ready to start, check in with a communications professional. Contact a SCORE mentor today to discuss a social strategy that supports your overall business goals.
SCORE can help. Click on the links below to find out more.
SCORE, the nation’s largest network of volunteer business experts, is dedicated to helping small businesses get off the ground, grow and achieve their goals. Since 1964, we have provided education and mentorship to more than 11 million entrepreneurs nationwide. SCORE Chester and Delaware Counties has been operating since 1985, with 100 dedicated volunteers today who provide confidential mentoring at no charge and offer business seminars, workshops and webinars to benefit the local community.
SCORE is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and a resource partner of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). Click here to find out more about SCORE.