Social Media and Your Business: Where Do You Start?

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460880409When my clients ask me about social media, they never really know how to pinpoint specific questions. They know social media is important, but aren’t quite sure where to start. Use this blog as your very basic, but brilliant, starting point. SOCIAL is the keyword in social media. Media is the word that gets everyone all in a tizzy. Let me tell you a story that helps me keep “social” media in perspective and will set-up four very important questions to consistently ask your company.

I grew up in a small town with a police and fire department, gas station, library and a hardware store. Mr. Dow is the owner of the town hardware store, which carried almost anything you would need for home services. Mr. Dow was a community pillar for all the time I was around and certainly after. He was extremely involved with the community: my church, the Lions Club, the Mason’s. He volunteered with my softball team and 4-H club. He was everywhere and knew everyone.

Visiting the hardware store was like having dinner at Mr. Dow’s house. He always made his customers feel welcome, kept up with their families and interests and went out of his way to make sure they had what they needed at the store. He never missed a commitment, could be counted on to do what he said he would and go above and beyond in any situation. I mean it when I say: everyone in my town knows, likes and respects Mr. Dow.

Do you think Mr. Dow as a man and personality has anything to do with his store’s success?  You better believe it! Even when Home Depot popped up in the 90s, everyone still went to Mr. Dow. He even built a bigger store in early 2000s. The way he interacted and cared for the community went hand-in-hand with his company’s success.

I know that you are probably wondering what Mr. Dow and his hardware store have to do with social media because clearly he wasn’t using Facebook or Twitter. Here’s the tie-in: he was SOCIAL. The four most important questions to ask about your company before figuring out your cover photo on Facebook and custom background on Twitter are:

  • Can customers trust you?
  • Are you authentic?
  • Do you do what you say you will do?
  • What are others saying about you?

Social media allows for a unique digital experience of being able to engage directly with your customers and potential customers. It’s similar to when someone walks through your store doors; they have a need or want, may want more expertise and generally want to like who they purchase from.

Trust is established through social interaction, knowledge and credibility. Let’s go back to Mr. Dow……he was trusted by his actions. He interacted and showed interest with his customers. He was knowledgeable about how to fix their problems and always willing to go above and beyond. What information can you share on social media that allows your company to gain trust? Example: A roofing company could talk about best practices, DIY jobs or help a community member in need of roof repair.  59% of social media users think companies who use or are active in social media are more approachable.

Being authentic may seem fuzzy as a business, but it is easy to establish in social media. This is where you can really let your personality shine through. Are you a tech company with a lot of high-energy young people who share a lot of the same interests? Are you the neighborhood general family doctor who has helped many people? Or a local unique boutique? Think about how the people that work for your company interact socially. Think about the mission and vision for your company. Use that information to show your company personality/brand and it will be seen as who your company is. Mr. Dow truly cared how each customer was doing in their lives and took the time to listen to them and remembered them each time he saw them.

The third answer is easy. Do what you say you are going to do. Let’s say you own a paint store, a customer walks in looking for a specific paint, which you need to order and you tell them you will. If someone on social media reaches out with a question or need, follow-through just as you would in a real life social situation. This extends to community involvement. If you promote how you support the community or certain local groups, then show how you do. Mr. Dow never let us down and never missed an event that he committed to. He always made sure his customers were taken care of, even if he had to go out his way to do it.

Reputation management is vital in today’s consumer research.  72% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. Not only do consumers search on Google and local review sites like Yelp, but they use social media as a way to find out more about your reputation. There could be instances when a unhappy customer shares their experience through a social media platform like Facebook or Twitter. It is your job to engage them by replying and taking the conversation offline. The public exchange shows other potential customers that you are approachable and want to make them happy.  On Facebook and Twitter, “Likes,” “Followers,” and “people talking about this” are good ways to gauge what others are saying about you. If their friends on social media are engaging with your company, they will be more apt to join the conversation.

Think of your Facebook profile as a way to interact online just like you do out there in the real world.  Hopefully, social media seems less scary now.

If you are still shaking your head and trying to connect the dots, please reach out for help. TNMedia has experts waiting to shed light on any online question.

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