Since the evolution of communicating online and the formations of social networks, many businesses have shut down the access from their locations. Some might say it is due to the prevention of wasting time and improving time management. Others might be weary of hackers or phishing scams that could possibly be associated with the social networks. Regardless of the reason, blocking access to social sites is hurting your business.
You need to begin branding your name. Branding is a way to reach various audiences and demographics that may be interested in what you have to sell. Firstly, you must remember that they are people, not customers. Establishing your name on social networks will already alert your fans of who you are and since the various social sites provide places such as info tabs, bios, hours of operation and more, there is no urgency to then turn your social networks into a constant feed of what it is you do. Just make sure that you have filled out all the information areas that each social network provides and those keywords will help people find you online. More importantly, in order for them to find you, you must exist and you must be active.
Why it is Important to Maintain your Social Networks
Many businesses think that if they have the links out there then people will come. This is not only wrong but can hurt your business. Yes, having Social links with your business’s name on them will have your name stretched across the internet and of course people will be able to find you. However, once they do and all they see are empty shells of what they thought would be a community, they will be disappointed and move on. People aren’t impressed with ghost accounts; they want interaction, knowledgeable information, and life breathing from these sites.
That does not mean that pushing links that are related to your business 100% of the time is going to be anymore effective than the empty accounts. Many businesses lose the fact that social networking is to relate and communicate, not to advertise like a pest, and than hope for the best. If you truly want your business to be valued you have to provide value.
Create a welcome video, find article’s online that pertain to your industry and not just your products (even write articles yourself), create a dialogue by asking questions, questions at the end of everything you share is one of the best things you can do. This way people have a choice to engage the page or not, and more so than not, they will.
The people that you are interacting with are those that could potentially be your current or future customers. They can even possibly be an advocate for your business if they like what they see. You must remember to listen to what they have to say and take the time to respond. The only time you should ever delete a post by a fan is if something is posted to your social sites that have nothing to do with your business. Other than that, whether it is positive or negative feedback you must respond to that customer whether you believe that they are right or wrong. Do not continue the problem by making excuses, choose your post response wisely and always with a solution in hand. Do not just post and not respond. As a fan of whatever social sites you are on, they will want to be heard and the only way they can verify this is by you responding. Remember, their opinion is of great value to you, so you need to be invaluable to them by always putting them first which will validate that you are in fact paying attention.
Let go of the ego, diminish the sell, stop thinking in numbers, and start talking with people, sharing with them and listening to what they are saying to you. The page can be fun and creative and certainly not always about the business. Find a balance between social and professional interactions and success will ensue.
Don’t fake it to make it. Share your personality, devote time and effort into the content that you share and find out what it is that your fan base wants. Businesses often lose site of being authentic while utilizing their social networks to push onto people what they think their fans want. Instead ask them. Don’t be afraid to take some risks or to follow through with some suggestions from your fans. Be fearless with ideas and prepare for their failure if that is the case, as the cliché goes “it is better to have tried than not at all”. Your sincerity will be seen and your ability to try again will be appreciated. The only time you can fail is by not giving it a try at all.
It is vital to spend more time on the fans you have (especially the loyal ones) than spending time on luring new fans. If you have a special offer, allow the loyal fans to know first. You can even create a fan of the month to show them how special they are. New fans will find you, maintaining the ones who have stuck by you should always be a priority. Be genuine and honest with your fans and you will earn their respect and build credibility within a long lasting community for your business.
Commit, Don’t Quit
As you can see, a responsibility comes with setting up, maintaining, and monitoring your social networks. It is imperative that you make the choice to commit and to set a plan in motion that you are able to update your pages at a minimum of 1-3 hours a week. Devotion is important and taking the time will work in your favor, as long as you work it into your day. No matter what products you sell people will most likely look for it online prior to approaching your business offline, so it is not only important to create social sites for your business but even more critical to remain as active as you can and to never quit. If you get busy and distracted by other things, remember to always go back and continue the relationship with your fans, even explain where you have been, or have another employee take the control of the sites if you are not available.
Take Control, by Losing Control
Fearing social networking at work is bad for business. You need to lose control. Trust that the same employees that you hired to help run and maintain your business can do so online too. Allow access for your business’s location to social networking sites so you can implement a strategic plan with your employees on how to brand your business online. You can’t do it alone, you need their help, and it will look inviting to your potential fans to see that you have a strong community within your business already. Allow your employees to post, comment, and share opinions. Incorporate them onto your social networks as you do everyday at your company. Make the process and transition between offline branding and online branding easier with allowing access and by encouraging your employees to take part and share the sites with people they know.
Adapt or get lost in the Shuffle
The change has happened. The way we communicate is no longer the same and this goes for businesses as well. You can not stand by and not take part in the new medium of Social Media; it will impair your business. You need to adapt and perform accordingly to be an effective part of this communication shift. You must take time to research, incorporate your employees, maintain your pages, and be genuine. If not, you will get lost within the shuffle.
Social Media is an outstanding opportunity to connect and build relationships with your fans. It is of significant importance for you to establish yourself on the variety of social networks that are available to you. Resistance is never helpful when change has occurred and can ultimately damage your hard earned reputation. By not taking action, you run the risk of being over shadowed by your competition, so don’t be idle, get out their and get social. Embrace the change that can now allow you to embark on the new form of relationships between business owners and their customers, not to mention exposing your business’s name to the world, but also a chance to demonstrate just how great your business truly is.
Do you think Social Media is important for business?
Erin Ryan has a passion for Social Media and is currently working within the industry as a Social Media Specialist. Contact Erin on Twitter @4u2wear2
* * *
Read more on this social media blog.