We all know that social media is a vital part of any modern business strategy, but we don’t always know how to make the most of our web presence and what mistakes to avoid.
Last night, executives from each of three big social media networks -- Deepanjan De from Facebook, John Mayhall from LinkedIn and Brett Goldslager from Twitter -- took part in a panel discussion where they revealed their best tips for businesses. The panel was held at LinkedIn’s New York City offices in honor of National Small Business Week, which ends today.
Here were the five major takeaways.
1. Know the platform
Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter are all useful and important, but each has a different use. While Twitter might be great for real-time customer service, Facebook is best used as a way to drive sales. De explained that actual likes, comments and shares on Facebook are less important than using Facebook to drive customers to a company’s website.
Also, pay attention to tone. While Facebook and Twitter can be conversational, LinkedIn is intended to be more professional. Context is key.
2. Offer value
If you want your customers’ attention, offer them something they can use.“If you have a picture of a dog and say, ‘if you find this cute, like it,’ you’ll get a lot of likes, but none of that is moving products off the shelves,” De said. He also explained how having a smaller number of active, engaged customers is preferable to trying to tap the millions of Facebook fans that you’ll never see offline. “If I have a bike shop, I can reach out to people in a 10-mile radius that like bikes and while that’s not 1.4 million people, those 20,000 mean something to you.”
Mayhall pointed out that to get someone’s help, you need to offer your own in return. “To have a really strong network, you have to be giving value, you have to be helping people out as much as you’re expecting them to help you. On LinkedIn, a common mistake is that people go on there just to extract value from the network -- to solicit, to ask favors -- without giving back.”
If you want to add someone to your network, tell them how you can add value for them by having that relationship. For Twitter, make sure that what you’re adding to the conversation is relevant, and that you’re giving people a reason to engage with your content.
3. Be active, but with a purpose
Frequency depends on the platform you’re using. Posting once or twice a week on facebook effectively -- reaching your target with interesting content -- can be better than posting four times a week and blowing your budget to reach the same customer twice. On Linkedin, however, Mayhall said that if you post 20 times a month, you'll reach 60 percent of your network.On Twitter, though, the best practice is to post three to five times a day on average. Remember: these guidelines are just that -- guidelines, not hard-and-fast rules. Keep in mind what’s happening with your brand that day, such as if there’s something specific you want to promote. In all cases, have a goal in mind that you’re accomplishing through these networks.
4. Combine offline and online
Using a call to action or holding a promotion or contest can be a great way to generate online buzz that leads to in-store traffic. Furthermore, directing your content to specific customers -- locals in an area or a niche group -- will get people to stop scrolling. (In Facebook’s words, try to create “thumb-stopping content.”)
5. Stand by your values
A company’s values are critical in attracting customers and engagement. Once you decide what your values are, own them and stand by them. “The same reason people came to work for you in the past is now the reason customers want to buy from you,” Mayhall said. “Embrace social media as a way to be transparent in who you are as a company and what you care about and we’ll continue to see that really paying off.”