How to engage with your customers online

Millions of Australians are using social media platforms to air their views in forums where personal opinion rules and professional objectivity is not required. SMEs need to get wise to it.

FacebookSmall-to-medium businesses (SMEs) cannot ignore social media. Statistics show that Australians are the world’s most active social networkers, almost doubling the amount of time they spent on social media sites in the last year. With so much of the population already engaged, these forums present a huge opportunity for small businesses. By establishing a presence on these forums, SMEs can inexpensively interact with consumers to achieve tangible business benefits.

Build your network

Social media outlets enable businesses to engage directly with consumers, creating a database of potential customers to market to. It is free to set up a fan page on Facebook or a Twitter profile to engage with customers. It is important to remember that social media takes the form of a conversation rather then a monologue. You cannot post content and walk away – you need to be prepared to remain involved in the conversation, making time to respond to people who want to engage with you.

It is also important to add value to online communities by providing your audience with something to talk about, whether it’s product information or a promotional initiative. Rather than regurgitating key messages or marketing spiel, your engagement on social media should aim to inspire, excite and build conversations with your customers. The ultimate goal is to get people telling their peers about your content, creating brand ambassadors who will promote your business for you.

Cost-effective promotions

Social media provides an inexpensive way for small businesses to run promotional campaigns. Simple ideas work best here. Make it quick and easy for consumers to get involved and provide prizes or offers that incentivise them to sign up.

A good example of an effective campaign is #CrustFreePizzaFriday – a Twitter campaign where consumers retweet the words “I’m entering @crust_pizza #CrustFreePizzaFriday to be in with a chance of winning.” The cost to the business is a free pizza or two but the clever campaign has boosted Crust’s Twitter following by keeping the brand front of mind with consumers on a weekly basis.

  • Good information. I have been thinking about how social media could assist my business but it has all seemed too hard.

    I have never been sure about how to tackle it properly.