Making social media work for your business (part 2)

Now that you have decided that having a page or profile on some social media channels is good for your business, what to do next? As we said in the previous post, keeping these channels up to date is not that easy. It requires planning, creativity and… time. Do you have time to do this yourself? Do you have someone to help you? Do you have budget to hire someone?

As with anything, there are tools that will help you do the job. You will find a few social media management softwares that allow you to plan a long term calendar and schedule posts to almost all networks. Some might even give you some insights and analytics. A few are free to use (with limited features) or operate on a try-before-you-buy basis. As you will do with your contact management software, always do some research before you choose one.

For me, the hardest part is finding what to talk about – and writing about them. Some businesses just lend themselves to social media. Going back to the cake business. You can write about your cakes and new creations, about a special offer for Mother’s Day, new designs that you are planning for Christmas, post recipes, create a one off cake workshop, run a competition. All with amazing photos, clear call to action messages, driving to your website where people can place orders or reminding them where your shop is. You can do this on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat… but you will need to tailor your posts to each channel. Twitter will only allow you 140 characters (which you can use to drive to your Facebook page), Instagram is more about photos and less about text, Facebook is more democratic.

The “social media network best practice guidelines” (someone came up with these probably based on statistics from those channels) says that we should work on a post calendar for the next 6 to 12 months. Then it says that each social network has an ideal number of posts to keep your channel/page relevant and interesting and this is in average 3 posts per day. Let’s do the math: we are talking about 540+posts for a 6 month period that you have to write and schedule. Not to mention the impromptu ones, like “50% off our cupcakes for the next 10 costumers to show up at our shop today by 4pm” when you want to clear out stock. That is a lot of planning and writing, isn’t it?

But it’s doable and this is not as rigid as it seems. The great – or worst, depending on how you look at it – thing about the online world is that things evolve all the time. You might plan your posts for the next 6 months, but you need to be flexible. You might need to change your strategy in case you are not selling that much or in case you are selling too much, you might have new ideas, there might be a life changing even that you will like to bank on.

Bottom line is: you can be creative, flexible and have fun with social media, but it requires an awful lot of work and dedication and you need to be up for it. Are you ready for it?

 

Making social media work for your business (part 1)

Back in 2012, when we created our Facebook page, we weren’t sure it was going to ┬ábenefit our business (or any business for that matter), help us grow, improve sales. People are on Facebook to be in touch with their friend and family and have some fun, right? Errrr…. not really.

On a basic level, having an up to date and relevant page or profile can help increase the chances of your business to show up search engines, for example. Social media has evolved rapidly and we don’t know how was life before Twitter, Facebook, Instagram. Going back to 2012, it was the year when Facebook implemented a series of money-making initiatives, and advertising was at the top of the revenue drivers. You probably don’t even remember how your profile page was without the sponsored posts on the right hand side or in-between friends’ posts in your timeline. Since then, many companies have been looking at converting likes into sales. Does it work? Yes, for some, but creating a your business page or profile will not get you likes and followers and drive your sales overnight. If only was that easy.

For starters, not all networks suit all businesses. You know your business, your products or services and your audience better than anyone so, before creating pages and profiles everywhere, set goals against each social network with clear objectives and realistic expectations. You might find that Facebook is great, but Instagram is not. An example: you own a MOT centre in East London, you have your loyal clients that come back year after year, but you have empty slots in the diary that you would be happy to fill in. A Facebook page, with lots of positive reviews from existing clients, posts with tips on how to look after your car to pass the MOT, your opening hours, etc, can help. It makes it easier for friends and clients to recommend your service to other friends or closed groups, e.g. Car lovers in East London. On the other hand, a profile on Instagram or LinkedIn might not add much to your business (only extra work for you).

For a cake shop, though, Instagram and Pinterest, networks all about images, posting photos of your beautiful cakes, some behind the scenes shoots and short videos might grab the attention of cake lovers who are thinking about ordering a nice cake for a celebration at work next week.

We are just talking about pure organic effort here, not paid advertising. Paid advertising is a totally different story and, again, might not be for everyone.

So, how do you feel about having your company on social networks out there? Check your business goals and ambitions before you start signing up for all of them and make sure you have a plan. Keeping these channels updated is not a walk in the park and require dedication and time, but this is a topic for another post.

Social CRM or talking to your customers where everyone can see it

Social media is changing the CRM (customer relationship management) traditional strategies. With so many social networks and ways to interact with customers directly online, no wonder the interaction with customers is changing. It was never this easy to reach out to customers, listen to what customers really think and find out quickly how others (non-customers and prospects) perceive you – the real value of your brand. Not your brand as you see it or as you intend it, but as your customers perceive it.

However, most companies are afraid of the social media. They are too used to talk to customers individually, especially if it’s to do with complaints – they don’t want anyone to find out about what an angry or unhappy customer has to say. It’s not unreasonable – this is the old way of doing things. This is the old CRM and how companies used to engage customers.

Yes, you might think, but why don’t these companies change, why don’t they just adapt the new model? It’s so easy. Just start using twitter, facebook, linkedin, etc. etc.

Change is hard though. Especially if you’ve done things the same way for years and years. Agility is not something established companies are very good at – it’s difficult to unlearn the old way of doing things, especially when you’re still making money using the old ways. And then it’s difficult to learn the new social media. This is indeed a difficult change, but not impossible.

There is however a bigger problem. The new way of doing things is not just a new method of contacting customers, it’s not just a new tactic – it’s a whole new philosophy. It’s not just a new way of doing business – it’s a whole new way of being. It’s who you are – who your company is. It’s something so deeply rooted into your company’s DNA that you simply cannot learn it overnight. If you try, you end up faking it and your customers will see through it. It’s like telling someone who is naturally introvert to just go out there and talk to people, make friends, get phone numbers. For the extrovert it’s so easy, it comes naturally, but the introvert needs to analyse it, learn, read books about it, study it in-depth and still probably not get it right – certainly not from the first attempt.
Your company has a similar DNA or perhaps personality, depending on which, it might find it easy or almost impossible to switch to the new way of doing CRM. If you’re company is an introverted company, you will no doubt shy away from social CRM and find it very difficult.

So before you jump on the social media CRM train, spend a few moments, days, weeks thinking about the profile of your company and about your personality too. Are you an introvert or an extrovert?

We’re now on facebook

If you want to give us your Like, become a fan or just follow us once in a while, you can now find us on facebook: Web based contact manager on Facebook
Is facebook good for small businesses? Or is it more for fun, leisure time with your friends?
I’m personally convinced it’s more the latter, but facebook is an interesting experiment and it’s the social network, so the place to be.