Social media is now widely accepted as being both a valuable and an essential marketing tool, but whilst many small businesses recognise the importance of social media, few fully understand their goals or how to achieve them.
As the largest social network, Facebook is often the first consideration when a business makes the decision to get started in social media. According to eConsultancy more than a third of UK businesses are using Facebook, however 37% of business users, don’t feel that Facebook is actually helping their business. This could, in part, be down to the fact that many small businesses mistakenly believe that their aim is to obtain as many page ‘Likes’ as possible, giving little or no regard as to how they can effectively turn those ‘Likes’ into sales leads.
The secret however lies not in merely chasing ‘Likes’, but in having the ability to translate those likes into engaged, receptive sales leads. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that someone who likes your page is a sales lead – a ‘Like’ is just the start. You will still have plenty of work to do before they become receptive to your marketing messages..
How to engage your fans
Before you can start engaging your fans, you need to have a strategy in place. Start by asking yourself what it is you want to achieve; ultimately you’re going to want your social media activity to attract new leads and convert as many of them as possible into customers.
Do not make the mistake of using social media primarily as a sales channel, use sales messaging sparingly and remember that social media provides you with the opportunity to build relationships with your customers; don’t continually force sales messaging on to them.
The key to being effective on social media, lies in your ability to have meaningful conversations and it is crucial to keep in mind that conversation is a two way process. By taking the time to monitor your Facebook wall and listen to what your fans are saying, you can join in and start to shape and influence those conversations.
Build your relationships – show your human side
People love personality and showing that your business has a human side, makes it easier for people to relate to you. Once someone can relate to you, they have begun to form an emotional connection, bringing you one step closer to converting them into customers.
Get people involved by asking them questions,
posting polls…go on, have some fun!
Use images- a picture is worth a thousand words
In social media this adage rings truer than ever. Engagement levels rapidly increase when pictures are used in posts. According to Fastcompany.com, pictures will routinely result in 44% more comments, shares and ‘likes’ so it makes sense to use them as often as possible. Keep pictures on-brand, and mostly on-topic and create interest and desirability by posting pictures of new products, especially lifestyle shots.
The added benefit of using images on Facebook is that you can then edit the descriptions to add or update information as required, something that you can’t currently do with a text only post.
Never forget to include a call to action in your post regardless of whether your post is text or image based. If you are talking about any goods or services that you offer, always ensure you include a ‘click here to find out more’ call to action with a link through to your website.
Don’t be afraid of negative comments
Don’t be scared of negative comments posted on your wall. Many businesses rush to delete them which only serves to make fans distrustful of you. Tackle negative wall posts head on – respond swiftly and be helpful and accommodating. Abusive or highly critical comments are best removed, but use your judgement. If a comment is posted relating to customer service issues, you can usually respond to these in a way that positively demonstrates high levels of customer service. Being friendly and helpful on social media is an excellent way of driving trust in your business, a crucial element in converting fans into customers.
Negative comments can provide an opportunity
for your customer service to shine!
Whatever you do, ensure that you monitor your Facebook wall. There is nothing more off putting than sporadic posts, or customers posting questions or comments that go ignored for days or even weeks. Try and build in just a few minutes each day to actively look for opportunities to engage with your fans.
Practical Facebook engagement ideas
- Run a Facebook poll giving people a selection of your current products, and ask them to vote for the one they like best
- Post a funny picture and ask for comments, captions or ‘likes’
- Received a great review or customer testimonial? Shout about it on your Facebook page and let fans know!
- Celebrate Friday and ask your fans what their plans are for the weekend
- Invite your fans to post a picture on your wall
- Run a Facebook competition
- Post about a recent interesting job or case study
- Comment on something topical and find out what others think (just don’t be controversial)
- Post about your latest products or services – “Looks what’s new in this week!”
- Highlight your most popular products
- Thank you customers and fans – recognising the importance of your customers and fans helps to make them feel valued
- Share the details of your latest blog articles or new posts
About Shell Robshaw-Bryan – Guest Contributor
Shell Robshaw-Bryan is a marketing consultant at Surefire Media, the Cheshire based web design, eCommerce and marketing company. Shell specialises in organic search, content strategy and social media engagement for both B2C and B2B companies.