Today, nearly 7 in 10 American consumers use social media. Besides sharing cat videos, many people use social media as their primary tool to shop for products and services. As a result, over 73% of entrepreneurs use social media. With so many social channels to choose from, and the increased opportunity to sell products and engage with customers across various platforms, how do entrepreneurs wisely invest their time and money in social media to grow their business? Consider the following ideas that help our independent distributors build their business and achieve their sales goals:
Know and Grow
Before you embark on a social media program, take time to understand your goals. Are you eager to build brand awareness, grow your user base, be a leader in your industry, or generate sales leads? If you answered yes to any of the above, you still need to prioritize what is most important to you and adapt your messages and mediums for maximum results. While establishing your audience is essential, the quality of followers trumps quantity. A good way to build your community is to utilize hashtags and engage with influencers that are relevant to your industry. For instance, if you are selling a health product and trainers are important to your customers, utilize the hashtags they use and engage with their content by following their profiles, commenting on their posts, reposting their content on your profile, or tagging them in your content, when appropriate.
Match the Channel to the Audience
Social media is an excellent and cost-effective means of reaching customers. But before you select a channel, find out who your customers are and where they are online. First, identify who you want to talk to by finding points of connection with your potential audience. For example, if you wanted to reach an audience of mothers, according to research, 81% of U.S. moms on social media use Facebook compared to 61% of the total U.S. One great way to identify where your potential customers are is to see where your competitors are online. Checking their followers is a good measure of potential audience size, but looking at their engagement on posts is a better indicator of audience quality. Another great place to identify and engage with your audience is via online communities. You can join Facebook Groups and create Messenger groups to engage in meaningful conversations.
Additionally, many potential customers use LinkedIn as a networking tool. LinkedIn provides an opportunity to connect to customers as a thought leader in your industry. You can join numerous groups that offer interesting forums for discussions and share thought pieces and content on your personal and brand pages.
Whether you are selling nutritional supplements or technology software, your customers want to be educated, not constantly bombarded by sales pitches. Be a resource before you ask for resources. People buy from people they trust, so establishing trust through useful content and engaging in conversations through the comments section helps establish a real relationship that can provide mutual benefit down the line. Don’t be in a rush to capitalize on your new audience. A long-term mutually beneficial relationship is the goal and is established with time, engagement, and trust. The key however is to be authentic.
Fail Fast, Learn Quick
Social media is an ever-changing industry, so don’t be married to a particular strategy or content type. As the platforms introduce new features be among the first in your industry to utilize them. The platforms are going to give higher billing to new content types they are pushing, so experiment. If it doesn’t work, go back to the drawing board and try again. The great thing about social media is you can keep trying different things and get almost immediate feedback from your audience as to whether it was effective or not. Use this feedback to inform your next decisions.
Hear Me: Engagement Matters
Many small business owners set up their social channels only to abandon them after little effort. Others post infrequently and see followers drift away. If social media’s task is too daunting, consider having someone else help you with the job. Or reduce your social workload – focus on one channel and give it all your effort.
Finally, social media is a discussion – not a one-way means to communicate. Suppose someone comments on a post or asks a question, responding in a timely manner (within 24 hours, but ideally within an hour or two), shows that you are listening and care. It also encourages others to engage with you because they can see you are responsive. A simple reply goes a long way, versus silence, which can be viewed as a lack of interest. With that said, being selective in your responses, is also important. Not every post may warrant a response.
The world is online. We are using our mobile devices and computers to search, shop and communicate. Entrepreneurs have a valuable opportunity to speak with customers online and not just sell to them, but to connect with them. The result is creating more than a sales transaction; it’s a dialogue. We can be leaders in our industry and share information that is meaningful. Social media can build your business cost-effectively and open doors to new opportunities when you learn, grow and establish your channels.