The most successful method of marketing is about connection, and it always has been. Whether you look back to the loud, bustling meat markets of ancient Egypt or the pushy salesmen of Manhattan, getting out there and getting ahold of a real person is what sells – not a faceless entity.
The modern equivalent of this is social media, and arguably, it’s more effective than any of its predecessors. Sure, being face-to-face is a little difficult behind a screen, but it allows something no other before it has; an interesting balance between privacy and socializing. People feel more at ease on their Facebook or Twitter than they might at your store, and this gives you the chance to convince them why you’re the best, the most trustworthy, and their first choice when they need something.
All that said, leveraging social media for customers and profits isn’t as easy as getting followers or likes. A customer who retweets your funny picture may not be a customer who walks through your front doors, so the key lies in something a little more complicated and a little simpler.
Here are five sure-fire ways to get social media working for you:
1. Get Personal
Success with social media is pretty self-explanatory; you have to be social. While it’s easy to create faceless entity for your followers to view, creating a personality that can interact with your followers instead is what gets you noticed, gains consumer trust, and earns customer loyalty. Be sure to talk to your followers, engage in banter, join conversations on other groups or with other brands, and most of all, remind people that behind a brand is a group of living, breathing, interesting people who want to offer something valuable to the world. That’s way more interesting than a faceless entity, and your customers will notice and remember this difference.
2. Don’t Get Too Personal
That said, it’s important to remember you’re running a business account and not a personal one. While your friends and maybe a handful of followers will be interested in knowing what you had to eat that day or watching you talk about cats (when you’re a shoe company), the grand majority will be irritated, bored, and view you as unprofessional. The key to balancing personable with professional is consistency and relevance. If you’re a shoe company, engage in conversation with other fashion companies, post articles about color symbolism or the latest style trends, and talk to followers about their favorite products from your lines. Be sure to help solve problems customers have, but don’t get into long conversations about random bad days, because, remember, others are watching. This lets you stay on-topic while keeping people engaged and remembering that you and your business are real. The public will always choose something real over something fake and easily ignored.
3. Ask for Opinions
One of the greatest advantages social media offers is its range of knowledge and opinions. Sure, some are worse than others, but it’s still a viewpoint that you as a business have to cater to if you want to improve and especially if you want to gain consumer attention. At your fingertips is the largest focus group on the planet, and this gives you the opportunity to do many things:
- Firstly, by asking your followers’ opinions on new releases, prototypes, or fledgling designs, you’re showing that you value their opinion. This makes them feel a connection with you as more than a passing lead, but as a person who is valued by a business. By creating a bond of trust, followers will become customers that are loyal to you over the competition.
- Secondly, this generates conversation, and specifically conversation about your products. Their friends, family, or acquaintances may notice them speaking of their favorite product and come to see what all the excitement is; and, ta-da, you have now gained yourself another lead.
- And finally, you can use this vital information. By understanding exactly what your customers want, from their own mouths, you can tailor marketing plans, products, and services to cater to their specific tastes and trends. This not only allows you to cash in on the opportunity, but also save yourself countless expenses on marketing forecasts.
4. Have a Consistent Schedule
Especially for small businesses, it can be easy to spend too much time on social media and less time on actual business. For larger companies that can afford the division of time, a danger comes in overwhelming your audience. No one likes spam and no one likes a dead social media account, so consistency is the key. Create a weekly schedule of posts, replies, and pitches that ensure you’re not clogging your follower’s newsfeeds or being forgotten.
5. Make Sales Pitches Entertaining
We’ve all see the “half off” sales and the “40% mark-off” signs; they don’t excite us anymore. More than ever, the public is becoming ad-blind from constant commercials, billboards, and ads popping up on their computers, and because of this, the typical commercials don’t cut it anymore. Instead, it’s time to gauge your advertisement to be less like an advertisement and more like its own form of entertainment. Take advantage of your personal connection with your followers and see what they want. A famously successful example is a car company, advertising the durability of their cars by showing a detailed graph of how much bird dung it would take to damage them. Apparently, an ostrich would have a better chance than any other bird. It’s funny, it’s unusual, and it conveys actually useful information about the product: it’s durable and the people who make it are fun.
Marketing has always been difficult, but it’s also always been about connection. By balancing personal with professional, consistency with presence, and actually creating relationships with your customers, you can set yourself apart from the competition. You can use social media to generate business, and with more than likes, by using these five tips.