Why Use Social Media for Your Online Business?
With over 2.5 billion social media users around the world, using it in your online business is really no longer optional. If you want to be as successful as possible, you need to explore this resource, and use it for a number of important reasons. These include:
- Insight into your customers: Can help you understand what your target audience likes, and how to use it to your advantage.
- Enhance customer loyalty and brand awareness
- Raise search engine rankings
- Helps you keep an eye on your competitors
Best Social Media Platforms and Why to Use Them
The number of social media platforms has skyrocketed over the last 10 years. However, there are still a certain few that are the most popular, and helpful for an online business. Understanding how these gems work, and how each can help your business specifically, is the key to unlocking their full potential.
There is little possibility of contesting the claim that Facebook is, by far, the leader in social media. With over 2 billion active users, Facebook claims the lion’s share of the social media market and is perhaps the most effective tool available in your social media arsenal. Aside from the largest potential market, Facebook is a worthy addition to your online business’ social media strategy because it is easy to set up, lets you customize your presence in many different ways, and connects easily to other platforms.
Your business presence on Facebook will come in the form of a Page, rather than a Profile. This is an important distinction, given that setting up a Profile for a business violates their Terms of Service, and can lead to it being taken down with no warning. You will still need to create a Personal Profile, from which you can make a Page that promotes your business in as much detail as you like.
Facebook operates primarily through Likes and Shares. Likes, or when a user clicks on the Like button on your Page, allows the user to receive any updates posted through your page, directly in their news feed. This helps disseminate information and updates in a speedy fashion, and right to the people who are most interested in what you have to offer.
If a Facebook user thinks your update or information is something people on their Friends list will enjoy or find useful, they can hit the Share button. This puts the post on the News Feed of all the people on their Friends list, if they have opted to receive updates from them. From there, the extended users can also Like and Share, potentially putting your presence out to an even greater pool of potential patrons.
One of the best ways to enhance the experience of a visitor to your Facebook Page is apps. Apps, small pieces of software that are embedded in the Page, are an excellent way to increase the interactivity potential customers can have. Popular apps to use with Facebook include:
If your online business could benefit from short, targeted messages delivered directly to potential clients or customers, Twitter is an excellent platform to explore. Using Twitter involves creating an account on their site, building up a network of Followers, and sending out messages and content not exceeding 280 characters to those on your Followers list. If a reader enjoys your Tweet, they can then hit the Retweet button, which operates much the same as Facebook’s Share button.
One of the prime reasons to use Twitter is its focus on mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets. These short messages are perfect for these smaller devices, and virtually every person in the modern world carries one with them. When you send out a Tweet, Followers receive a notification that allows them to view it, right then and there, no matter where they are. This gives you the opportunity to get the important stuff out in one of the quickest ways possible.
Hashtags are also an important facet of Twitter, and operate similarly to keywords. Users can search posts by hashtag, and yours will pop up if it is in your tweet. This allows exposure directly to a group of people that have a specific interest in mind.
An excess of 500 million people use the popular platform Instagram, with more than 50 percent of those users checking it each day. Instagram focuses on images much more than the text posts Facebook or Twitter revolve around. Instagram is completely mobile based, and does not have a browser-based interface to directly interact with. Facebook acquired Instagram in 2012, and it is one of the top sites where Instagram images are posted and shared.
Given that Instagram is image based, it may not seem like the best option for all types of online businesses. Sure, if you sell products in your online store, it is a great place to post pictures of your wares to pique your viewers’ interest. However, even if your online business does not sell any products, it is an excellent way to interact with customers or clients. You can post pictures of ongoing projects, videos with information and instructions, or just something creative you think your viewers might enjoy. The visual nature of what you share can make it much more engaging and attractive than simple text.
LinkedIn is a bit different than the aforementioned services, in that it is primarily geared towards connecting professionals with other professionals. LinkedIn starts you out with a list of professionals and businesses you have interacted with directly, such as past jobs or clients. From there, you can view the professionals they have directly interacted with, and contact them and interact with them as well. This helps you build up a network of valuable business contacts over time, perhaps to a much greater degree than any other social media platform.
Pinterest is another primarily image-based platform that works a bit differently. Members Pin different, related content to different Pinboards, which associated users can check out and enjoy. This can be anything from images, videos, or helpful articles and blog posts. Each Pinboard has a theme to it, which helps users find the content they have interest in in short order.
Given that Pinterest’s user base is primarily women, Pinterest is best used by those online businesses in the fashion, craft, and home décor industries. However, virtually any online company with anything visually engaging and beautiful is likely to have much success on this platform.
Coordinating Multiple Social Media Channels
Given that it is advisable to have a presence over multiple social media platforms and channels, it may seem a bit challenging to keep track of all of them at once. The rigors of monitoring and updating each resource is time consuming, especially if it is done one at a time. However, it is of paramount importance to stay constant across all channels, given you are never sure which medium a customer may use. Having even one social media presence that is lacking in care and updates can turn a potential patron off before they have a chance to check out the one you do maintain carefully.
Software tools available for managing multiple social media accounts have grown in number and sophistication over the past few years, unsurprising given how popular this form of marketing has become. These tools allow you to make changes or make announcements across the board or to certain platforms, instead of doing everything piecemeal. Some helpful social media management tools include:
Establish Consistent Branding
Just as the amount of attention you give to each of your different social media accounts should be the same, the actual portrayal of company and products should be as well. Developing a brand that a customer associates with your company each time is important to help you stick in their mind and set you apart from the competition.
For example, your logo, and all identifying images, slogans, and core concepts should stay consistent across all social media channels. Customers come to think of you whenever they see your identifier, which enhances loyalty to a much greater degree.
One of the worst things you can do with social media is open and set up accounts, and then never interact with them in any way. This starts with the actual content on your accounts, something that must be fresh and current in order to keep a customer’s attention. If a potential patron sees the same thing over and over again, with nothing new to catch their interest, chances are they are going to go somewhere else.
Content itself is not the only thing that needs to be handled on a consistent basis. Virtually all social media platforms have the capability for viewers to interact in some way, usually in the form of questions or comments. These entries can be seen by all who view the post, as well as any responses you may have provided. As such, it is vital to respond in a timely manner, given that a failure to do so veritably screams a lack of interest on your part.
Customer inquiries and complaints, those sent through social media accounts directly to your company, and not posted on the public part of the account, should also be handled quickly and thoroughly. The last thing you want is a disgruntled customer airing their grievances in the public area for everyone to see and judge.
Social media is fast becoming one of the best tools an online business is able to use to reach a wider audience in a vast number of different ways and reasons. Developing your social media presence as much as possible can easily prove to be the deciding factor between rampant success and dismal failure.