Social media has been a wonderful thing for small businesses – leveling the playing field and making it easy and affordable for brands to connect with their customers on a global scale. But as the years have gone by, the challenge to find followers, manage an increasing number of accounts (Facebook, Twitter, Periscope, Snapchat – the list goes on…), and deliver like-worthy content has become increasingly difficult. Consumers are flooded with options, and they’re looking for a brand that doesn’t use social to talk *at* them but to talk with them. That’s where your social strategy has a chance to really shine. So from our small business to yours, here are the tips and tricks we’ve picked up along the way that’ve helped us gather relevant followers, understand our customers better, and create content they really love.
1. Gain interest by showing interest
Set aside an hour each day to socially engage with your target customers. Like and comment on Instagram photos that relate to your brand, join relevant Facebook and LinkedIn groups and begin sharing content and advice that position you and your business as a trustworthy and helpful resource. Not only will customers appreciate the authentic, human approach, you’ll be able to gain deeper insight into what they want out of your product or service. You can even mine these groups for relevant keywords and discover gaps in the market that your business may be able to help fill. Even something as simple as a ‘like’ can inspire a potential customer to take a look at your business and learn more – take it a step further and try engaging in real conversations and forums.
2. Don’t bite off more channels than you can chew
While it’s always smart to open social accounts with your business’s name as soon as possible, it might not be smart to try posting on all of them right away. Be honest with yourself about the amount of time and manpower you can put behind each account – if you don’t think you can regularly contribute to all of them, then hand-pick the social channels that you think will best showcase your brand. Our recommendation? Start with the big 3: Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. If your business offers a B2B service or product, throw LinkedIn in the mix as well. Posting regularly is crucial – daily, if possible – otherwise, you risk losing followers. Also, as the saying goes, variety is the spice of life so try posting a healthy mix of video, link posts, images, and GIFs.
3. Share your customer reviews
It can be scary to open your business up to criticism, but gathering and sharing customer reviews is one of the top ways to gain trust and generate word of mouth. Try putting them up at the top of your feed from time to time, interview past customers for your blog or Facebook, and consider having a social aggregator on your product pages for people to share how they used your product or service. According to Michael Fertik, 89% of consumers view online reviews as trustworthy and 63% of customers are more likely to purchase a product from a site if it has product ratings and reviews. In other words, the more positive experiences that can be shared online, the sooner your business can grow its reputation *and* its revenue.
4. Treat them to social-only deals
It’s not all about new followers – keep your current ones happy by hosting special promotions, sales, and giveaways solely through your social channels. If you decide on a contest or giveaway, make sharing a piece of branded content or liking/following an additional social account one of the requirements for entering. Keep it simple though – too many barriers to entry will have people dropping off quickly.
5. Embrace your brand’s inner weird
Social is an opportunity for brands to be a little less buttoned up and join in on real-time conversations. Don’t be afraid to walk on the quirkier side with your content and take advantage of any real-time trending topics or seasonal opportunities. If there’s money in the bank for some promoted posts, consider trying a less conventional ad unit. Facebook Canvas, Tweet to Unlock, and Snapchat Lenses are just a few worth considering – though they can come with some hefty price tags. When it comes to social, you have a lot more freedom to think outside the box – try not to treat it like a print ad or TV commercial.
6. Make your product share-worthy
Ok, so you’ve grabbed their attention online, maybe even exchanged a like or two – but how do inspire them to keep sharing your product once they’ve actually purchased? In Dotcom’s 2015 “Unwrapping the Experience” study, they found that 39% of customers are more likely to share their shopping experience with their peers if it comes well-wrapped in custom packaging. In other words, when an unboxing experience is memorable, buyers are more interested in sharing your product on their own channels. Another great option is to send your product to influencers who are willing to do an unboxing video – having the packaging look amazing as they reveal the product and discuss their first impressions will help generate even more interest in your brand. At Packlane, designing custom packaging online is quick and simple – consider adding a hashtag onto the exterior of your box or including your social handle to encourage conversation after purchase.
And there you have it! With these tips, your business can go from social rookie to social giant. Keep in mind, maintaining a prominent online presence takes a lot of time and effort (and rarely comes with a holiday!). Scheduling content in advance can help you manage the work, but it always helps to consider having a dedicated social guru to keep followers engaged and growing.
Now’s the time to design a custom box that has people digging for their camera phone, ready to press ‘Share’.