What is the winning strategy to turn social media into an advantage for your SME? How can you make use of them to turn your readers and your “fans” into customers?
The social media offer is so wide that it can discourage many companies from jumping in! Each media has its peculiarities, pros, and cons. Since it is recommended not to scatter your message on several media especially when just starting out, the first rule to remember is that not all media work for all activity sectors. Pick the one that reaches your market best, and fits with your activity sector as well as your marketing goals. Each media “speaks” to a specific audience, which is now quite well defined. It is thus important to know your “targets” well.
- Twitter is great for exchanging with your customers in real time. People from the 18-29 age group are the most avid Twitter users.
- Facebook makes it possible to create and engage a user community. It is by far the most popular social media, reaching nearly two-thirds of Quebecers. Women are more active on Facebook than men. The average age of users is increasing, and it is, by far, the media that reaches the most elderly people.
- Pinterest is perfectly suited for sharing artistically minded pictures. If your offer is highly visual, present your newest creations there. Pinterest reaches 5 times as many women than it does men.
- Linkedin groups professional from different sectors, so it is optimal for business-to-business communications. Thanks to its advanced search function for finding new customer leads, it becomes an ideal business development partner.
- Google+ is well adapted for companies that wish to be visible on the local scene, so it can be a very good solution for local SMEs.
- You want to share your expertise? Focus on blogs and forums. Create how-to videos, share rich content and share your passion… with other passionate people!
A few tips to to efficiently communicate your company image on social media:
- To take your first steps on social media, seek the advice of a public relations expert specializing in digital media: you need to be ready to react quickly and efficiently if a crisis happens (for instance if a false rumor suddenly spreads virally), as well as to publish the right message, consistently and in line with the company’s code of conduct.
- Before starting, make sure that your master the company’s “personality” completely. You need to be able to follow your communication place, and to be able to talk about your company’s image and know-how fluently.
- Set a clear and realisitic strategy for using social media: you need to share content with added value to create a bond of trust, expand your reach and enhance your reputation. On these networks, people want to interact, and are therefore allergic to traditional, one-way advertising.
- Set long-term communication goals: do you want to improve customer service, inform the general public about your know-how, increase sales, create a community of followers? Defining these prior to launching your social media strategy greatly helps in avoiding the scattering effect.
- Dont’ forget that once you’re there, it will be extremely difficult to back out. Ensure that the publishing rate you set can be maintained.
- Use the analytics to improve your strategy: always remember to analyze your social media “performance”. Each social media offers detailed reports, so use them!
- Check on your competitors: do go see what they’re doing on social media and try to analyze it from an objective perspective. Do not, however, interfere in their social media channels in a critical or even humor-minded way.
- Start the conversation, and answer quickly: online, behind a screen, people grow impatient. The expected response time from consumers is very short, so act as quickly as you would if a customer was in front of you.
- Remember to focus on the right targets: social media is not an international “fan” contest, especially if your business is very local.
Once you feel completely at ease and in control with your initial social media strategy, it can become lucrative to combine the benefits of several social media platforms. Just make sure that you always follow your marketing line, and that you manage and use all of them consistently. If you can do so, not only your interaction with people will become more fluent, but your “audience” will grow naturally.
You now know the key elements for being present on social media! Just keep in mind that this is work, work that needs to be monitored all the time and planned on the long-term.