If your business’s social media page looks like an online graveyard everytime you pay it a visit, then it’s certainly not doing the job you set it up for. Or, maybe it’s you who isn’t using it the right way. Afterall, many companies have leveraged social media to build communities of active and loyal followers, and have reaped immense benefits from the campaigns they carried out with it. It can’t be the case that Facebook and Twitter just haven’t been kind to you; it’s almost certainly true that it’s about tools underperforming because they’ve been improperly used.
So, how do you make your social media channels come alive with activity that ultimately leads to growth in the number of customers patronizing your business? There’s no one-size-fits-all strategy for companies operating in different industries, but there are basic steps that every business can (and should) take to make social media work for them. Here they are:
- Find out what your audience wants
Before you get about doing this, you should know who your typical customer is. If they’re a fairly balanced mix of people from all age groups and walks of life, then you’ll probably be more focused on figuring out how to communicate in ways that they can all relate to. But if your customers fit into particular demographic and psychographic groups, your task will be to craft messages with language, terms, ideas, and themes that people from those groups will appreciate.
In order to find out what customers actually want, you will have to gather information about their preferences by interacting with them and noting patterns in their buying habits. Study your target market, watch its trends, and be mindful of existing and changing demands when creating and sharing promotional content or any other material on social media.
- Share content that gets people’s attention
You can achieve this if you get point one right and apply your findings from it in fashioning material for various social media platforms.
Don’t make your social media page a dump for promotional material. Many businesses get it all wrong at this point: they put out pictures of their products or messages declaring that their services are ‘the best’. Who wants to come back to a page that has nothing other than invitations to buy and declarations of superiority to offer?
Maybe you’re cringing a bit now because you realize that this is what you’ve been doing with Facebook and Instagram. But you can remedy the situation by looking at things from the perspective of the people you’re directing your posts to. What do you think they would be attracted by? Useful information? Entertainment? Give them what they’ll like.
Of course, you won’t be dishing out stuff that’s unrelated to your business all the time; that won’t get you customers or sales. The idea is to provide followers with things that are in some way (though not always) related to your company or enterprise, which they’ll find valuable. For example, if you run a car dealership, you could give tips about how to fix car issues, regular traffic reports, and news about the launches of the latest car models. Intersperse these posts with information about cars available at your dealership. Establish your brand as an authority on all things automotive, and you’ll build yourself a big fan base- and a sizeable customer base too.
Create an air of human warmth around your social media posts by engaging people who respond to them. Some businesses have the mistaken idea that participating in conversations with respondents on social media makes them look unofficial. This is wrong. Your aim of setting up an account with Facebook or Twitter is to interact with real people, as a company that’s made up of real people. Get down to the reader’s (or viewer’s) level. Answer their questions, express appreciation for their compliments, acknowledge their complaints, and assure them that they are valued.
You can build a community by building relationships. This building process basically consists of mutual correspondence. If you encourage a welcoming and cheerful ambience around your social media pages, you’re likely to succeed at forming a thriving community of followers with it.
- Be consistent
This is as much about quality of content as it is about frequency.
Let’s say you’re a fashion designer. You have devised a strategy for growing your potential customer base by sharing useful tips about fashion, along with illustrative photos, on Instagram. You also showcase your designs and highlight comments from satisfied customers. But you don’t do these often, perhaps just a few times a week. You won’t stay in the thoughts of your typical buyer long enough to make her consider ordering from you. This is because there’ll be other things competing for their attention; the memory of your fine designs could be pushed into the inner recesses of her consciousness by new, equally eye-catching stuff.
- Use promos and contests
You can organize social media contests centered around questions related to your business, general knowledge or trivia. If the prizes on offer are attractive enough, you’ll have a good number of people flock around your page to ‘try their luck’. The thinking here is that they’ll come back frequently enough to take notice of what else is happening on your page.
However, you shouldn’t rely too heavily on this method. It’s not very likely to attract the right kind of people (i.e. the sort of persons who’ll be interested in buying your product or service) without the other tips given here being followed as well.
- Monitor progress
On social media, look out for significant increases in number of likes, shares, comments, and clicks on links shared on your pages.
Beyond social media, check for a rise in the number of enquiries coming through to you in response to posts on social media (your posts, whether original or shared).
Analytics tools like Google Analytics can help you track traffic on your social media pages. But in the end, it all comes down to your observations in the real world, where you deal with customers.
Let your discoveries from regular evaluations of your performance on social media inform your decisions on how to proceed with it. If you do things the right way, you will get good results.
Ikenna Nwachukwu holds a bachelor's degree in Economics from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He loves to look at the world through multiple lenses- economic, political, religious and philosophical- and to write about what he observes in a witty, yet reflective style.