Social media: More than hashtags and shoutouts

Businesses beware¬†– there’s a wrong way to use the social media stage. The social media craze has created a growing digital community that...

Monday July 25, 2016

Businesses beware – there’s a wrong way to use the social media stage.

The social media craze has created a growing digital community that businesses are trying to reach through their own social media presence.

Social media is a useful tool for businesses, small and large. It’s an easy way to share news, information and events with the public, But like any other tool, you need the right skills to use it well.

Businesses are jumping on the social media bandwagon, thinking it’s easy to do – post, tweet, like, share and you’re done. Sadly, having this attitude toward social media can actually hurt your business. Clogging social media channels with useless information that holds no value for your audience causes them to unlike, unfriend and unfollow you.

Social media needs regular monitoring and management. It isn’t there for your business to brag about itself and then ignore until the next company announcement.  Entering the social media world means starting and taking part in conversations with your audience. This helps your business grow, engage existing clients, attract new customers and develop a positive brand image.  Use it wisely! 

Boring self-promoters will be unfriended

Social media is a useful marketing tool for any business but there’s a risky trend of using it as free advertising. Your social media content can’t be self-promotion all the time. Your audience will lose interest quickly if all they see on your social media channels is advertising, product pitches and pressure to promote your business. What’s in it for the audience?

Give your social media audience something unique, useful and interesting. They will keep coming back for more, increasing your audience reach through shares, retweets and reposts of meaningful content. The buzz will invite new social media followers and new visitors to your website. Without relevant content, your audience will question your company’s credibility, lose interest in what you have to say and look elsewhere for something better. When writing content for your business’ social media channels there are two key rules to follow:

Use 100 percent original content

  • Don’t copy and paste information from somewhere else – it shows that your business doesn’t have any original ideas or doesn’t have the knowledge to produce its own content
  • Don’t recycle information from one social media channel and use it for another – make a new post and use each channel’s unique traits to improve your message
  • Avoid using stock photography – create your own images and photos, if possible

Make it interesting and unique to your target audience:

  • Don’t promote products and services too often – your audience isn’t on social media to read ads, they are looking for something more exciting
  • Don’t stick to one type of content – spark conversations by including a variety of topics that reflect your business’ goals, values and character
  • Don’t forget who you are writing for – consider the audience of each social media channel and customize content to meet their needs and interests

The right content for the right channels

There is no need for your business to join every single social media channel out there. In fact, making an account for every outlet just because you can is another common mistake that businesses make. Think about your business’ social media goals before creating your accounts, and keep the following in mind:

  • Your business’ social media goals may require certain channels and exclude others – think about what you want to achieve before choosing the tools to do it
  • Your target audience may not use all social media channels – it’s your job to figure out which ones they do use
  • Your content may not be a good fit for every social media channel – think about the unique features of each channel and the tone of your content
  • Some social media channels require specific content to be effective such as images or videos – you wouldn’t post content on Instagram without an amazing, original photo
  • Real people will be managing your social media channels, not robots – you don’t want to overload your social media team with dozens of channels to manage; opt for quality over quantity

Choose your social media channels wisely and consider what makes sense for your type of business. Key messages get lost in generalized content, pushed out on all channels – make your content unique to get your message heard. Social media is flooded with content every minute of every day – make yours stand out from the rest. 

Listen and learn

Your followers will teach you a lot if you’re listening to them. Through social media, your business can get information directly from the audience you hope to serve better. You can get to know their likes and dislikes, their opinions about existing products and services and their thoughts about industry trends. This feedback will help your company measure customer satisfaction, confirm customer and client needs, and estimate the impact of current trends.

There are fun and interesting ways to engage your social media audience. Show your audience that you want to hear their thoughts, feelings and opinions. This strengthens your business’ brand image and increases customer loyalty.

Get your social media conversations started with:

  • questions
  • interactive surveys
  • breaking news
  • contests
  • images 

It’s your business’ responsibility to keep these conversations going. Audiences stay tuned-in to social media channels that are active and engaging. Getting information from your audience that your business can use to improve is great, but don’t stop there. Your audience expects you to respond and listen. A common error that businesses make on social media channels is to be quiet and ignore feedback.

Respond as soon as possible to questions from your audience. In a world where consumers want things instantly, or close to it, most social media users expect a response to their questions within hours. Days later will not cut it – they’ve already moved on and have lost interest in what you might have to say.

Your followers have given you their opinion – make sure you let them know that you appreciate it. People don’t hold back on social media – negative comments are expected. While businesses like, share and give thanks for kind posts that make them look good, many of them choose to ignore the negative ones. This is a big mistake, causing your audience to question your business’ transparency and trustworthiness.

We’re all human and humans make mistakes. There’s nothing more attractive to your customers than honesty and a willingness to fix errors and improve.

There’s a lot to think about when it comes to social media for your business. It’s about strategy, planning and managing. Does your business have a social media strategy?  

To learn more about how to build, monitor and manage an effective social media presence for your business, ask the social media experts at eSolutionsGroup. 

Ashley Pergolas brings media knowledge and advanced communications skills to eSolutionsGroup. As a Content Writer and Strategist, Ashley is responsible for communicating the key messages of eSolutionsGroup and its clients through creative and effective storytelling. With a Bachelor of Journalism from Ryerson University, Ashley possesses expert research, copywriting, copyediting and fact-checking skills. Her previous work in public relations, communications, writing and editing has reached international audiences.

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