Because it’s the birthplace of such cultural phenomena as the “selfie,” lip dub videos, and the ice bucket challenge, one of the biggest myths about social media is that it couldn’t possibly be taken seriously in the business realm. Won’t a business presence on social media seem frivolous, unprofessional, or even self-indulgent next to a slew of status updates, twitter feuds, and twelve versions of the same “selfie”? The short answer is no. The longer answer is that a strong presence on social media can actually have the opposite effect: lending credibility and providing the social proof necessary to engage your customers.
Still, it is not as easy as creating profiles and hoping they will attract attention. The key to credible and well-trafficked accounts is managing them, and doing so in a thoughtful and strategic way. Simply having an account with little or poor content is arguably worse than not having one at all. In contrast, there are a few guidelines that will ensure your social media is working for you, not against you:
- Create handles, usernames, and profiles out of your company name, not something similar, or even clever. The simpler the better; this is not about winning people over with your wit. You want your audience to know immediately that this is your business, not a spinoff or imitation.
- Be an industry leader by sharing the knowledge and expertise that makes your business successful. Crafting quality content that highlights how much you know about your industry is the business equivalent of the best “selfie” you ever took; it gives the impression that you know what you’re doing, and people will notice.
- Respond to all comments, both positive and negative. Social media is a space to interact with customers; meaning shying away from direct conversation is not an option. Dealing with an unsatisfied Facebook fan or two may seem unnecessary, but it can actually be one of the best ways to promote your dedication to your business. Plus, it reassures your followers that indeed, there is someone listening on the other end.
- Law of attraction: if you post quality, other credible figures will interact with you. Just as in real life, you are much more likely to trust someone with whom you have some kind of connection, no matter how small. Therefore, it’s crucial to interact with other well-established industry professionals on your social networks to align yourself with the right crowd.
When it is executed well, a social media presence for your small business can represent one more way your company is relevant in today’s modern marketplace. Don’t get left behind, and even more importantly, learn to use social media to its highest potential: it may be a soft-marketing tool, but it can produce firm results.
For more information on how to create a strong social media presence, consider signing up for our June Social Media Bootcamp!