Some business owners worry that having a public business presence on social media may increase the likelihood of receiving negative feedback, but how are you meant to put something right if you don’t know what’s wrong in the first place?
One of the fantastic things about social media is that it gives you instant access to both positive and negative feedback. This allows you to gain invaluable insights into what your business is doing right, and also any areas that may need some improvement, and this can only benefit your business. Social media allows you to reply directly and to take part in a two-way conversation, whether this is thanking a customer for their positive comment, or putting a complaint right. You can also actively engage your customers with your business and product by encouraging them to give feedback on a new menu or product. You can then use the constructive feedback you receive to help you predict product popularity and make important buying decisions.
Increase visibility & build relationships
By using a variety of social media platforms, you provide many more ways for your current customers and potential customers to find you. This is especially useful if you’re not high enough in the search engines to be found easily. Social platforms give you more opportunities to build positive online relationships with your customers and potential customers, which if successful can later translate into positive offline relationships, and sales.
Increase website traffic and sales
Whenever you use social media to communicate you are helping build brand awareness, and relationships with anybody who follows you, which could be customers, or potential customers. Successful social media activities will always improve the amount of traffic referrals your website receives, which plays an essential role in your sales funnel. Social media is increasing in importance as an SEO ranking system, and being mentioned on social media shows that you are popular and have content worth sharing and talking about. This in turn makes it more likely that your website will rank better in organic SEO, and can help to increase sales.
You can even add widgets to your social media platforms, which allow customers to book a table or appointments with you directly. For example, Appointedd specialise in online booking software for the health, leisure and beauty industries, which can be fully integrated with an existing website, free custom built booking website or Facebook page (see below).
Develop your brand
Using social media allows your customers to directly connect and interact with you and your business on a more personal level than a website would allow, and social channels are a great way to show your business’ personality and to communicate your brand ethos. Many businesses set up their social media platforms as an after thought, but if you’re a new business it’s a great way to encourage excitement about your brand before you even open. You can use it to help you build a recognisable brand identity, show your products, make announcements, and keep your followers updated with your progress to really create a buzz around your new business. In contrast, if you already have an established brand, social media can help you to further develop your brand and give your business a personal voice.
Showcase your product
Research suggests that users are more likely to engage with brands if they post pictures than any other media. Providing images of your newest addition to your menu, or a new product can really help to visually engage your followers. For businesses that don’t have a website, social media can help to fill the online presence void, which will provide an important link to your physical offline business. Instagram is a fantastic visual social media platform to use if you like to share a lot of photos or videos of your business and product. It’s important that you post high quality images and that you aren’t discouraged if your account doesn’t take off straight away. It can take a while to grow followers but you can make sure people find you by using relevant hashtags.
It’s free to join
Most social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google+ are completely free to join, however, it will take some time and effort if you want to fully utilise these platforms and reap the benefits. Social media marketing is a medium to long term strategy on the whole and you need to be committed to it. When your business expands, it may even be useful to employ someone whose role is to manage your social media platforms. Extra fees will apply if you want to advertise or sponsor a post but you can allocate a budget for this if you feel it would be beneficial for your business. You can also make use of a social media management system, such as Hootsuite, which will help you to organise and schedule your social media posts in advance.
It’s the future
Social media has been around for a little while now, and it doesn't seem to be going anywhere! It’s important that smaller businesses adapt to changing trends, and fully utilise social media to ensure you stay ahead of the competition. It’s a fantastic tool to support your offline business, and website. If you don’t jump on board now you may be left behind!