So, you’re ready to get on social media? Everyone says your business needs a presence on these channels, so you’re taking the plunge. But have you really thought through what joining the world of social media says about your business?
It says you’re accessible. Social channels are always open, and in use around the clock. It says you’re willing to hear from your audience, and that you’re open to increased communication. It says that you care about the people who buy from you.
Good social media may be intuitive, but it’s not to be taken lightly. But putting your business on these channels, you are essentially making 3 promises to your customers:
You will deliver content that will assist, entertain or educate them.
No one wants to connect with your business on social media in order to be sold to. Even if they love your brand or product, they don’t want to read a bunch of posts pushing what you have to sell. They know where to find that information should they need it.
Frequently, your customers are spending their leisure time on social media. By meeting them where they live, you are agreeing to engage on their level. Companies that do the best on social leave the marketing on the sidelines, and lead with their most authentic persona. Be smart, be funny, be useful – but, above all, be human.
You will give them access to ask questions and give feedback.
By establishing a social community, you are inviting conversation. It’s not fair to set up profiles on social media, and then expect to do all the talking. As much as you want to communicate with your potential customers, you should want to hear what they have to say, as well. This is a powerful platform for consumer research – and for building a relationship with those who buy from you.
There are message buttons and areas to post comments on Facebook business pages for a reason. This forum is about give and take. These days, if a customer has a question about your company, chances are social is the first place they will ask it. If you don’t respond, you will alienate them. And that’s not good for business. Even if it’s a criticism, it deserves a reply. Other fans will be watching how you interact with your audience, so you’re not just responding to an individual, but rather, to a population.
You will be an active participant in the dialog.
Wouldn’t it be great if social media was just a megaphone where you could shout all the things you wanted your customers to hear, and then just walk away? Unfortunately, it works more like a telephone – you talk a bit, then you listen, then you can talk some more.
When your audience engages with you on social media, it’s because they want to interact. They do want to hear from you, but they often want to speak to you, too. By setting up a presence on social media, you have made a promise to listen and respond in a timely manner.
And, you can’t just leave the receiver off the hook, either. If your community is active, but they haven’t heard from you in awhile, they start to get restless. They expect a steady stream of content from you now that they have agreed to let you into their newsfeeds (see promise #1).
By creating an active social media presence, you are making yourself available to your customers in a way that you weren’t before. It will change your relationship with the people you serve. They will have greater access to you, and, in return, you will have greater insight on them. This is a powerful arrangement, and one not to be entered into without some thought and planning.
Have you thought through the types of content you will create and the frequency with which you will post? Do you have a plan for keeping your channels consistently updated? Who will listen and respond to the conversations there? And what will you do if you get comments that are argumentative or critical?
Before you write another post, ask yourself – are you really ready to be a social business?