Why Social Media Matters
Social media. It’s no secret that most of the connected world uses it. According to Pew research, in January 2014, over 74% of online adults were on social media. Facebook alone has over 1.2 billion users. People can connect with each other, share photos, tag friends in posts, raise funds through crowd sourcing, talk about their interests, and discuss pop culture. But can it really help you grow your business?
The consumer buying process has changed drastically over the years. Thanks to the Internet, buyers now have more information than ever, putting them in complete control of the purchasing process. Conservative estimates claim that consumers are already 2/3 of the way through the purchase process before they ever encounter a salesperson. Sending out sales ads and pushy marketing materials is no longer effective. Consumers don’t want to be sold, they want to make a decision based on their knowledge and experiences. Businesses now have to develop a relationship building strategy in order to gain the trust of the consumer and develop brand awareness.
Social media presents the perfect platform for doing this. Many business owners assume that social media is, well, strictly social. Social media is about engaging and connecting, but it isn’t restricted to family and friends. These are things that businesses have to do today in order to win over consumers.
There are many different social media channels, but don’t worry, your business doesn’t have to be on all of them. Depending on what kind of business you’re in, some channels will be more effective than others. For tire and automotive businesses, Facebook seems to be the best option to get started.
Before you dive right in, there are a few things that you have to consider. Who are you targeting? How will you engage them? How often should you post, and what kind of posts should they be? Some experts suggest the “lurk and observe” tactic. This is when you find a successful page that you think aligns with your goals, and you observe what they do for a few weeks before getting started. Once you decide which channel you are going to get started with, and how much time you are willing to invest, there are some guidelines for getting started on social media for your business.
- Setting up your social media page - In order for people to find your business on social media, you have to make sure your page has as much detail as possible. Make sure that you fill in all of the required fields, and include a detailed biography in the “About” section. You should try to include words and phrases that your potential customers are likely to search when looking for a business like yours. Social media searches are much like the major search engines, they will pick up content from your page and yield results to the searcher based on that content. Make sure that you use good quality photos for your profile and cover photos, and that you brand your page to resemble your website wherever possible. Your contact information should be current, detailed, and provide links to your website and other social media pages. You want to make it easy for people to connect with you.
- Developing an audience - Before you begin to see the benefits of social media, you need to develop an audience. Invite your business connections, customers and friends to “Like” your page. Develop a profile of your target audience: are you targeting a specific gender, age, location, profession, etc.? Once you’ve gotten started and you’ve been active for a few weeks, you can begin to evaluate whether your content is reaching your desired audience. Facebook offers insights into who has been viewing, liking, and sharing your posts. Do those people match the description of your target audience? If not, you may have to restructure your content or change your posting times. Interact with pages and groups within your industry.
- Decide on a posting schedule - How often do you plan on posting? According to a report from Fast Company, businesses should post to their Facebook page at least once a day. It is also important to distinguish between being informative and being annoying. If you are posting once a day and experience great results, you can probably safely increase it to twice a day. As far as posting times, Fact Company suggests posting at around 10:00 am and 3:00 pm. In reality, posting times can vary across industries, so you have to find what works for you. You can determine the ideal posting time for your business by looking at your Facebook insights. The insights can show you what time of day your followers are on your page the most, i.e. when you will have the greatest chance of reaching the largest number of them.
- Decide what will motivate your customers to engage with your Facebook page - Depending on the type of business you operate, you should be posting content that will engage your customers. For a tire or automotive service business, your content should be focused on automobiles. For example, provide helpful tips on things such as how often to check fluids, have your tires rotated, etc. Share information about what’s happening in your community, and at your business. Try to structure your posts to encourage feedback whenever possible.
Now that we have covered all of the basics, you are ready to get started on social media. Remember, developing a social media strategy for your business takes time and requires monitoring. Don’t get discouraged if your posts aren’t reaching your desired amount of people or aren’t getting “Liked” right away. Keep at it, and keep monitoring the results. You will most likely have to make some changes and tweak your strategy along the way to get the best results. In the end, it will be worth it. For many businesses, finding the time to devote to a social media strategy is the biggest challenge. In order to see the benefits, you have to maintain a steady flow of outgoing content and monitor the results frequently. More and more businesses are hiring dedicated social media managers. Others are hiring companies that offer social media management services. You have to decide what will work best for your business, but however you decide to make it happen, you need to make social media part of your marketing strategy.