Social media provides companies around the world unprecedented opportunities to create value for customers. That is, if the channels are used properly. According to Damien Cummings, a leading social media marketer, it’s very easy to f*ck up. Undefined goals, an overly commercial approach, a wrong focus… You name it.
25 million SMEs are currently active on Facebook. Cool – 25 million companies that benefit from the endless possibilities of social media! Apart from the fact that a single mistake is enough to ruin one’s online presence. And a structurally poor social media strategy will certainly lead to problems. That’s why Casengo offers you 7 tips to beat business competitors. Our New Year’s gift to you!
Social media tip #1: Think about what you’re doing
Too many companies consider social media to be a goal in itself. They don’t understand that it’s only a tool to reach a certain goal, like faster customer service or more sales. A social media strategy is essential for an effective, consistent and successful social media policy. It forces you think about existential questions: “What am I trying to achieve, and how can social media help me reach my goals?” You should also think about KPIs (metrics), various channels and the type of content you are going to share.
Social media tip #2: Investigate which social platforms are worth it
The diversity of social media platforms is astounding. Each platform comes with its own audience, rules and possibilities, so it’s understandable that many companies no longer see the wood for the trees. Imagine you are a book specialist. Should you focus on generic or branch specific platforms? And would you know which ones? Facebook, Twitter, SnapChat, LinkedIn, weRead, Anobii or Librarything?
Many companies don’t. As a consequence, they sign up for every social medium imaginable – only to find out that they cannot possibly maintain them all. A lack of focus will not benefit the quality of your content. So take some time to find out which platforms are popular among your customers, select one or two, and focus on those.
Social media tip #3: Pick useful metrics
In the interview mentioned above, Damien shows his displeasure towards meaningless metrics such as the amount of ‘likes’ or followers. His concerns are well founded: up to this day, many companies measure the success of their social media efforts by these metrics. This results in companies that focus only on gathering as many ‘likes’ or followers as possible, for instance through contests (“Like us and win”) or by simply buying them from dodgy parties. But what’s a ‘like’ worth when the person only had the intention to win a prize? And what are 100.000 followers worth if none of them are actually listening to you? Absolutely nothing. But hey, at least you can tell your manager that you accomplished the goals.
Lots of social media gurus suggest you should measure your ‘range’: the total number of people receiving your posts and tweets. That’s a step in the right direction, but it still says nothing about the number of people who received – let alone read – your content. In short: you are still left in the dark about the success of your social media efforts.
That’s why we suggest you focus on unambiguous metrics instead. The click-through rate, and the amount of ‘referral traffic’ and conversions from social media, are directly linked to the profitability of your social media strategy.
Social media tip #4: Don’t try to hide the truth
In 2012, car manufacturer Volkswagen was given a real roasting after removing the negative responses off their Facebook Page. Removal just isn’t the best way towards damage control. In fact, it will only make matters worse.
Each and every company deals with complaints, criticism or downright rude customers at some point or another. The trick is to properly handle these issues: in essence, every complaint is an opportunity to sell your brand. Deleting comments will make you look unreliable, and will only attract more negative attention.
Social media tip #5: Keep it light and subtle
According to Cummings, 40% of all interactions with companies on social media are related to customer service. “For telcos and banks, this rate is as high as 70%, so why do marketers persist in pushing marketing messages via a Facebook Page or Twitter account when customers just want their problem solved?”
Very true! If you decide to do self-promotion on social media, do it subtly. Limit your self-promotion to 20% of your content, and keep it light. The more entertaining your post, the faster your followers and fans will accept your self-promotion.
Social media tip #6: Listen to your customer feedback
We all have a snooty cousin or acquaintance who only talks about himself and has no interest whatsoever in anyone else. The kind of person who never listens to what you’re saying. In turn, you end up not being interested whatsoever in what he or her is saying, correct?
It’s the same with social media. Connections and engagement, that’s what it’s all about. Followers and fans will swiftly leave you if they notice you’re only into one-way conversations. You will also miss out on some very valuable information, because you’ll miss out on your customers, who know exactly if anything is the matter with your product or service. So listen to feedback carefully, and show your customers you act upon it.
Social media tip #7: Respond quickly
More and more customers take their questions and complaints to social media platforms, expecting quick responses. For businesses, this is more easily said than done. You can probably not afford a “dedicated” customer service team like KLM’s, monitoring Facebook and Twitter 24/7.
Fortunately, you don’t have to, since Casengo supports Facebook Pages! This enables you to respond to (potential) customers directly from within the application. You will never miss another post or comment again. And the Twitter integration, you might ask? That’s coming up in the first quarter of 2014!
Social media is serious business and it demands an equally serious approach. Planning is everything. Summarize your goals, channels and focus in your social media strategy, and take it from there. Produce content that is not only interesting to customers, but that also adds value to your business. If you start listening to both the compliments and the complaints of your customer, you’ll have everything you need to start the year off right!