You've taken the time to set up social-media accounts for your business on all the major sites. You're posting regularly, taking the time to interact with your customers and using your social-media platforms as an opportunity to share information about your products or services. Social media marketing, however, isn't just about regular posts; it's also about providing your customers with opportunities to interact with your business. Through that interaction, you'll be able to build relationships with your customers and increase their opinion of your business substantially.
Related: 10 Laws of Social Media Marketing
Here are four ways to boost your presence:
1. Look for opportunities for discussion.
What's the latest hot topic in your field? Are there questions that are truly important to your customer base?
For instance, if you're marketing chocolate bars, the question might be simple: Do customers prefer an entirely sweet bar with cookie pieces inside, or a slightly salty bar with nuts or sea salt? How do customers select that perfect chocolate bar? For situations like this, a simple poll might be enough to tell you what the majority of your customers prefer, but it's not always about simply answering the question. Instead, offer your customers the opportunity to engage in discussion or debate. "Sweet or salty? Tell us why!" "What's your favorite chocolate add-in? Tell us in the comments." "If you could design the perfect chocolate bar, what would it look like?" Open-ended questions create far better opportunities for discussion and debate than multiple-choice questions.
For more complicated marketing campaigns, you have an equally complex array of topics that will give you the opportunity to keep your followers up and debating long past their bedtime. As an added advantage, every time someone comments on your posts, it increases the odds that they'll see the next one and that others will see it, too. You don't want your question to be too complex, however! Ideally, you want to ask a question that your customers understand well enough to debate while still leaving plenty of room for differing opinions.
2. Set up chat times.
The larger your business, the more trouble you'll have connecting with any of your customers on a personal level. For many small businesses, however, personal interaction can be the best way to increase customer satisfaction. Choose a social-media platform, create an event or a hashtag and take the opportunity to really chat with your customers. Offer troubleshooting tips about how to use a product that might be causing customers problems. Provide suggestions about how to make their experience with your service or product better. Ask for their questions and give serious, thoughtful answers. Chat times are a wonderful customer interaction tool, because they are specific times when your customers know that they'll be able to reach you.
When you plan chat times, go in with a list of topics ahead of time. Don't, however, feel as though you have to be trapped by those topics. Let your customers take the lead and guide you through the topics that are of greatest interest to them. When conversation starts to lag, you have your list of topics to help re-engage them in the discussion.
Often, it's helpful to have several members of your marketing team available to help deal with the traffic and answer questions. It may take some trial and error to discover the mix that's right for your business, but once you do, you'll discover just how advantageous it can be.
3. Look at the content that drives interaction.
Your goal on social media is to engage with your customers, so let your customers determine the type of interaction that you use. First, look at which social-media platforms are getting the most engagement. Are your customers primarily interacting with you on Facebook, or do they prefer Twitter? How many views do you get on your products when you put them on Pinterest? What about pictures on Instagram? Which ones do your customers really care about?
Look over that content regularly. Pay particular attention any time you see that a particular post has received far more or far less interaction than usual but keep an eye on your median interaction, too. What are the surefire topics that are going to draw out your customers and have them returning to the post to chat with one another over a period of hours or even days? If you're a clothing company, it might be the season's newest designs or colors. Produce collectibles? A new announcement is sure to generate attention, but preparing for the big reveal ahead of time can help increase customer excitement and generate more interaction.
4. Tie in blog posts.
Most social-media posts are intended to be relatively short. There's a minimal amount that can be said before your platform cuts you off and tells you that you're out of space; and even if you have unlimited characters to work with, you don't want to write more than you know that your customers will read. That doesn't mean, however, that you can't share longer content on social media platforms.
Use your social-media platforms to drive greater traffic to your blog and your website. Offer a teaser, a graphic from the post that's sure to catch your customers' attention or a question that will require your customers to read the entire post. Not only will this draw more in-depth interaction to your social media platforms, but it will also increase traffic to your blog. And don't be afraid to put a bit of budget behind your content. You'll be shocked at what can be accomplished with very little money.