The most important thing small businesses need to remember as they start adopting social media marketing is the very same thing that might make them reluctant to engage in this strategy in the first place.
This is the fact that this type of business marketing is much more a two-way street than anything that’s come before.
Even if companies have previously tried to listen to their customers, taking surveys, having complaints departments, and so on, the relationship has traditionally been very top-down. But now that has to change. Social media has begun to turn the company-customer relationship into a real conversation.
This thought actually terrifies some companies, while it makes others angry. Why resort to social media guidelines, they reason, when they’ve got tried and true advertising methods that have worked for decades?
They are used to putting ads and specs out there to tell the customer what they think he or she should know, and this customer has previously been a fairly passive recipient of the word from on high. Now the customer expects to talk back and even make judgements on the company’s products and way of doing business. Yet rather than embracing this social media strategy, some companies view this new way of doing business as suicidal.
The reason, of course, is the fear of losing control of their own brand. But social media marketing can ultimately be beneficial to the companies that integrate it with all their other marketing strategies. For one thing, customers will feel listened to, especially if they see their genuinely valuable suggestions being taken up by the company.
The Mistakes Small Business Make
As a marketing consultant here in Australia, this is one strategy that has been very slow to take off by many small businesses. Yes some have gone down the road of using social media, but have left disgusted and frustrated at the negative impact it had on their small business. So why did this happen? Simply put, they never used the social media platform to engage their readers – only to sell any and every product they could.
As an example of this, I have taken over a campaign from a DIY webmaster that had set up Facebook and Twitter accounts to promote his rain water tanks. That was his first mistake. From his lack of understanding about his audience and day after day tweeting and posting about his products, he was not adding value or even engaging his readers. In fact, he was alienating them more and more each day.
What he needed to do was offer value in the way of notifying his followers about any changes in Australia about the water tank rebates. Or share how to care for and maintain any existing water storage tanks his followers may already own. Or even let them know what the most innovation rainwater tanks to install are – and why.
It’s all about customer engagement and holding the interest of the reader!
Shoving promotion after promotion down someone’s
throat is the wrong way to go.
It’s All About Growing A Business
After all, businesses as well as individuals have room to grow and improve. If customers are part of the process, they’ll feel greater brand loyalty. And if the company uses a social media campaign to create buzz around new products, then the customers themselves will become part of spreading the word.
The one thing that always comes through, though, is whether or not a company’s social media marketing is merely a cynical ploy to use customers’ personal networks to their own advantage. If people are not genuinely respected and taken seriously by the business, then social media principles work the opposite way, too.
Disillusionment or disgust over a company’s products or practices can spread through this media platform even more quickly than approval. The best way for businesses to adapt to the social media world is to become full-fledged members, engaging in genuine conversations.