According to recent surveys, more than 60% of adults now use social media. So ... if your business could find them, what should you do? Start talking to them, build trust and recognition through sharing and creating content they find useful. As their confidence in your brand grows, it is very likely they will invite you into their own closed network, where you can talk to them directly about your business and what it could offer them.
But it’s just not enough to set up accounts on Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus and Linked In and hope that this level of "engagement" will happen though osmosis.
Your business needs to become "social by design" and it should be part of your marketing 101 plan essentials.
Start with a GOAL. If you’re a retailer that might mean getting 10% more customers to visit your shop on weekday afternoons; if you’re in a trade, it could be quoting 14 new jobs a week. Whatever outcome suits your business, decide on your first short-term goal.
At this point, you should know who is in your target demographic – now you just need a strategy to hook them. Maybe that’s offering a discount voucher for days when your business is quiet? Perhaps you’d rather run a competition, or build a buzz around a launch event? Running meaningful promotions and swag giveaways used to be the exclusive domain of much larger companies because of the audience size required for optimal return on investment. But with the growth of social media over the past five years, just using the right tactics can garner any size business an audience where your message or offer can be promoted. If your communication is well-received by your followers (your target demographic), they will share it and recommend it through their own pipeline of networks. This is when you start seeing your exposure blossom organically inside whichever groups you have targeted.
Let’s use the example of a “brick and mortar” store that wants to see more patrons walk through the door on slow days; the following broad campaign design would work well in this instance:
GOAL: Increase foot-traffic by 10% on Weekdays.
STRATEGY: Advertise a promotion for Weekdays to 500 potential new customers to obtain five new walk-ins a day.
TACTICS: Connect and engage with existing customers online; post content and offers to further engage customers and get them spreading the word about you to their own networks; use snail-flyers and snail-postcards to entice new walk-in customers to join you online.
This example is only one narrow version of countless possible campaign objectives. Keeping a simple structure in mind and a very definite goal in your sights will make time spent online far more targeted and beneficial.
TIP: If one of your direct competitors is doing well, investigate their social accounts to see what tactics they are employing. Competitor research is a perfectly valid business strategy. If they don’t have any social accounts, this is your chance to leap ahead of your competition.