Creating Social Media Success for Your Business
Growing a social media presence for a company requires careful thought about which sites your business may benefit from the most, what your strategy will be for the coming 12 months, and how to cope with negative feedback. Marketing expert and Impact PR director Fleur Revell provided her thoughts on how to make the most of social media for NZ Business online magazine.
If growing your company’s social media offering is on the wish list for 2015, there are some key factors to take into account before you start planning the strategy and resources you intend to put into it.
Impact PR public relations and social media specialist Fleur Revell says social media can be a powerful tool when it comes to promoting your brand and engaging with clients, but it is crucial to invest time and resource to make them work well for your company.
“Successful commercial social media accounts all have one thing in common: they are regularly updated, and monitored constantly, to ensure content is fresh and relevant, and customers see live interaction,” says Revell. “If you aren’t able to commit to this, meaningful social media results may be difficult to achieve.”
Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are the three sites that currently have the most following, with Instagram recently overtaking Twitter in active user numbers. However, not all will be appropriate for your company, says Revell.
“Facebook is the most traditional form of social media, and can connect your company with hundreds of thousands of potential customers,” explains Revell, who says most companies large and small should now have a Facebook page that includes their contact details, store locations and opening hours if relevant, and latest news.
The benefits of being on Facebook are many – there is the potential to advertise relatively cheaply with good planning, update information on business promotions or new products easily, and to create a community of dedicated customers or supporters to interact with on a regular basis who will then help expose your brand to their wider networks.
However, simply establishing a Facebook page will not take advantage of the possibilities the social site offers. “Users will quickly ‘turn off’ from a page that has outdated information, or one that doesn’t have new posts semi-regularly,” says Revell. “Also, according to Impact PR’s social media for business research, almost three in ten (29%) Kiwis are unhappy with the way local companies deal with customer service complaints, and many are likely to turn to social media to air their grievances.”
Revell says queries and questions need to be answered promptly to prevent complaints such as these escalating, and new posts need to go up preferably once a week, and whenever there is something notable happening within the business.
Content-wise, Revell says commercial posts about products or services may be part of your plan, but there is a need to think creatively about what more you can do. “Find a great picture or quote to share, or an international news story that has relevance to your business and caption it with something humorous or thought-provoking – people are on the lookout for entertaining or informative posts that they can share with friends on Facebook, and are far more likely to interact with posts of this kind than a plug.”
While Twitter’s popularity has been waning lately, the site can be a valuable way to start conversations with customers and keep them informed in real-time about events, or situations affecting them. As with Facebook, a regular plan of content is needed, and it’s even more important to have someone assigned to monitoring the site constantly.
“When Twitter works well, a ‘hashtag’ for a product or event or company can go viral very quickly and gain huge brand exposure for very little effort,” explains Revell. “However, it works the same way for a negative issue – many people now go to Twitter with complaints, so it’s imperative these are dealt with swiftly and publicly in the first instance to protect your reputation.”
If you can’t commit the resource to monitor Twitter, it may be best not to have an account, advises Revell. “People usually won’t follow an account that doesn’t post regularly, and it could be too great a threat to your brand if a complaint or query goes unanswered for days in a public forum such as this.”
If visual content is a strength for your company, then you could consider making Instagram a focus for 2015. With an impressive 300 million users, the image-focused site is perfect for companies who can create original images that will inspire and entertain users.
“Instagram can be a powerful site to engage customers and make your brand memorable, but is definitely not the place for countless product posts,” says Revell. “Creative, attractive and interesting images that are ‘share-worthy’ will gain you followers, as will re-gramming others’ images or fan pics.”
The advantage of the site, however, is the focus on quality rather than quantity which means not as much content is required. “It’s still important that someone keeps a close eye on interactions and comments however, as it is a public face for your business,” says Revell. “Plus, you are likely to see better results if you comment on other images, respond to fans, and follow other people or companies that are relevant to your brand.”
No matter what your social media plans are for the new year, Revell says it’s important to make a thorough strategic plan, set goals for what you want to achieve, and ensure you have an appropriate staff member to action the plan and manage the accounts to get the best out of them for your business.