More and more businesses are jumping into the Social Media space for a variety of reasons. A lot of them are looking to increase their online presence, listen to what’s being said about their business or industry, and as a way to get to know their customers and potential customers on a much more personal level.
The problem is, many of these businesses enter the space (way too fast), download a bunch of new tools they read about online, and go right at it without doing their homework first. No goals are created, no thought as to how they will use those platforms is put in, and before they know it, their Social Media presence has hurt them more than it’s helped.
Let’s take a look at a few of the more common things I’ve been seeing lately…
We’re on Twitter?
I’ve come across a handful of small businesses (and a few franchises) that decided to jump on the bandwagon (not saying it’s a bad thing!) and create a Twitter account so they could interact with their customers, as well as use it to promote company news, specials, discounts, etc. Then, they put one person in charge of it all, and leave it up to them to handle everything.
The next thing you know, a customer goes into their business and talks to one of their employees about their Twitter account (or a specific tweet they made), and they have no idea what Twitter is or that their company is even on it. BIG MISTAKE!
Not only does it show that their business lacks internal communication, but it will also leave a sour taste in their customer’s mouth because it shows that the personal connection they “thought” they made with the company, wasn’t important to them at all.
Before you know it, the word starts to spread online (e.g.: negative tweets, bad reviews, Facebook statuses, blog posts about their company, etc…) and they immediately lose all credibility in the space. You’ll be surprised at the effect this can have on your bottom line. Remember, most consumers look companies up online before they use them, so any amount of bad press can make or break that sale. (Here’s an interesting study on that.) So if you are a business using Twitter, Facebook, a blog, etc..make sure you keep your employees (especially the ones that interact with customers) in the loop of your online efforts, or it could come back to bite you.
You’ll love my product! Let me tell you why! A lot of businesses think that if they are going to see any sales/return from spending time on these social networking sites, they have to constantly promote their business any and every way they can. While I do agree that Social Media is a great way to promote your business/product/brand, your success lies in the approach. No one wants to hear you talk about how great your product is, or how awesome you are in every way possible. By doing this you are merely creating “noise”. Instead, use tools like Facebook and Twitter to develop and enhance relationships with people. Talk about stuff other than your business! Share useful information with them and create and add to conversations where you don’t talk just talk about your brand, but rather learn about your customers, followers, etc…Find out their likes, dislikes, and what they are up to this weekend. It’s developing those real relationships that will create loyal customers for life.
Is anybody there? Once you create your blog, Facebook and Twitter page don’t let those pages stay static. Start LISTENING to what’s being said about your industry, company, and brand, and start contributing to the conversation. If someone leaves a comment on your blog post, respond back. Social Media is a two-way street. It’s not just about throwing your message out there and leaving it at that. If you do, you will start to notice that fewer and fewer people will be visiting your site, listening to what you have to say, and most of all making that purchase. So start creating conversations about your posts and weigh in with your readers. It’s a collaborative medium, so treat it that way! This is the best way to build loyalty and relationships with your readers.
So for businesses that have recently implemented Social Media, or for ones that are thinking about doing it, I urge you to really take a look at what your goals are for this type of initiative and to do your homework first, before you start participating in the space. Social Media can be a great way to improve your online presence, personalize your company, and most of all create loyal customers for life. However, if you go about it the wrong way, it could do a lot more harm than good. (Some companies that are doing really well in the space are: Pancheros, Zappos, and Whole Foods)
*Quick Tip* Use sites like su.pr or bit.ly to track Twitter posts and Lexicon to track Facebook. This will help you monitor engagement levels and will also show you how these platforms can bring in real $ business.