Social media use is on the rise. Statistics show that in Australia there are some 11 million Facebook users, over 2 million LinkedIn users and some 1.8 million Twitter users, with new social networks such as Pinterest and Instagram also gaining traction fast. This is tremendous pool of customers for any business to tap into.
Unfortunately, a lot of businesses fail at social media. They may have a presence, but that doesn’t mean they’re using it as well as they could for a number of reasons. When businesses don’t engage with their customers and fail to create two-way communication, they’re merely using social media as an advertising platform instead of a tool to build relationships.
In order to get the most out of social media, here are four initial points that are crucial for successful implementation.
1. Embrace social media
Social media is here to stay – it’s not a fad. Sure, its uses and capabilities will be different in five years, but it’s not going anywhere. It has far-reaching influence and if used correctly as a ‘social’ tool, it can help your business to grow.
It assists businesses to get closer to and connect with their target markets and helps to build brands more efficiently and effectively. By learning to listen, engage and respond to customers on social media platforms, businesses can establish themselves more effectively in a competitive market.
2. Get started
Many businesses give little or no thought to creating a social media strategy, and simply jump straight in. However, spending some time thinking about what you want to achieve and the approach they’re going to take is crucial. Here are some key questions to ask when beginning:
What are my needs?
What am I planning to use social media for?
Whose attention am I trying to get?
What platforms do I want to be involved in?
Who is going to manage my platform/s?
These questions are important as the answers provide information to assist in determining what, when and how to involve social media in your business.
3. Choose a platform
Although most social media platforms share some similar characteristics, not all platforms are suitable for every business. SMBs need to select the ones they believe will allow them to connect most effectively with their audience. Therefore, spending some time deciding what platforms to use is essential – not every platform has to be utilised, only the one(s) that you believe will work best for your business.
Sometimes less is more, so starting with only one platform is OK – especially if your resources are limited. More platforms can always be added to the strategy further along the track.
This is the most important point. Without social media goals, nothing will be achieved – there’ll be no strategy, no measurement and no ROI.
Whether the goal is to build brand awareness or relationships, it’s important to ask yourself “What exactly do I want to achieve by using social media?” This will allow your social media goals to be aligned with your business strategy and increase the probability of attainable outcomes. Remember, social media is ‘social’, so goals need to be designed with this in mind.
Working through these four points provides the opportunity to build a solid strategy and make the most of social media for your business. It’s a long-term process that requires consistency, commitment and vision, and of course, a little bit of enjoyment!