We've approached the time where consumers are expecting companies and brands to have a social media presence. Not having a Facebook page, Twitter account, company blog or other direct access to consumers is a sign of a brand that is out of touch. Fortunately, more and more business are wising up and adopting social networking every day. Entering the social web can be a scary undertaking for a business; many are afraid they will "do it wrong," not have the time to keep it up, or do more harm than good. Luckily, following these simple tips and a little common sense is all a company needs to begin successfully engaging with potential and existing customers.
Choose Your Goals As a business, your number one goal is simple: to make money. Why are you interested in social media? Are you hoping to use it as a customer service vehicle? Promote your business online? Do you want to put a human face on your brand? Whatever your reason is, stick to it. In fact, a brand that is successful in social media is a mixture of all of these.
There are countless social media outlets on the web, from the major players (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube) to the smallest Ning communities. Just because they exist doesn't mean you need to be there. Pick one venue to start with and begin to build up your community. Getting involved in social media doesn't mean going all-in from day one.
Don't Just Exist A huge mistake brands make when entering the world of social media is a stagnant presence." Simply having a blog, Facebook page, Twitter account or other social networking profile that just sits there and collects digital dust can actually be worse than having nothing at all. Stagnant blogs and profiles make a company look lazy and engagements from customers that fall on deaf ears are helping nobody.
It's Not All About You Approach social networking the same way you would a first date. Don't spend the entire time talking about yourself. There's a high likelihood that your followers already know what you do, so talking about how great you are all the time will do nothing but turn your customers away.
What should you say? Listen to what people are saying to and about your company and engage with them. Did they post a tweet or blog post about how much they love your establishment? Thank them for coming and ask them if there's anything they'd like to see you do differently. The only thing people like in social media more than hearing themselves talk is knowing that people are listening.
Don't Ignore the Bad Stuff There may be people that make disparaging comments about your company. Again, listen to what they have to say and engage with them if you feel there's a genuine opportunity for you to help or remedy the situation. I can't tell you how many times I've witnessed someone airing their frustration with a brand do a complete 180º when that brand engages them with an honest attempt to offer assistance. We're all human and we just want to know people care.
Social media is not as scary as it seems. The internet culture moves so fast that what's the talk of the town on Monday is forgotten by Wednesday. Don't be afraid that you're going to flush the years of your blood, sweat and tears down the drain with one tweet. Just put a face and a name to your brand, show people that you're more than just a logo and treat them with respect. The rest will come with a little common sense, which you most likely have if you're running a somewhat successful business in the first place.