Making the most of social media
When you have something to say
“There are 2.3 billion active social media users worldwide. Every single day there are over 500 million tweets, 4.5 billion Facebook likes and 95 million photos and videos uploaded to Instagram.* Each of these provides your business with a cost -effective opportunity to build meaningful relationships with customers.”
- Decide what you want a social media site to do for your business.
- Share useful, informative and entertaining content.
- Consider using online tools like Hootsuite to manage your updates.
- Use email to update customers on new products and offers.
Sales pitches should be avoided, focus instead on engaging your followers.
Boost your brand loyalty
Engage with your customers regularly through social media and turn them into brand advocates. As these sites are real-time, interactive platforms, you can build personable and natural relationships with your followers, also meaning they’re more likely to recommend you to others.
Improve customer service
Raise your customer satisfaction levels by responding publicly to queries and complaints. When this is done effectively, it can be a very powerful way of building your brand reputation and establishing a loyal customer base. It can also reduce your need for telephone customer support.
Increase sales or donations
Publicise your products and services in a social setting without the 'hard sell.' If consumers have a positive relationship with you and trust your brand, they’re more likely to naturally make a purchase or donate to your company.
Almost all social media websites are free to use, so it’s a very inexpensive way of promoting your brand and engaging with your customers.
Select the right sites
Take a look at the various social media sites available and decide which ones will suit your business. Take into account what you want social media to do for you, as well as the time and resource you’ll be able to spend on managing your various social profiles.
Popular sites include:
- Facebook† – the world’s most popular social networking site with over 1.7 billion users. Members share updates, photos, videos and web links with their 'friends', and get updates from those friends and the brands they have 'liked'.
- Instagram† - Having recently reached 500 million active users it’s unsurprising Instagram presents a great opportunity for organisations to interact with new and existing customers. This photo and video sharing network is the ideal platform to build your brand. If that doesn’t convince you, research has shown that engagement on Instagram is 10x higher than Facebook.*
- Twitter† – share 140-character messages, or ‘tweets’, with your ‘followers’. Users see a sequence of messages written by the people or brands they're following and can join 'trending' topics marked with a hashtag.
- Linkedin† – the most business-oriented social networking site, letting members connect with potential business contacts, advertise roles and look for candidates. There are also groups specific to each industry, so members can discuss topics and get support relevant to them.
- Google+† – users share updates, pictures, etc. with their friends, or can choose to just share with groups of their friends. It’s also tied in to Google search, giving people search results personalised to their Google+ activity.
- Pinterest† – this social image-sharing site lets users share their own images or ones they find as they’re browsing the Internet. It's a popular platform for sharing inspirational images such as travel photos, recipes, DIY tutorials, famous quotes and interesting infographics.
Determine your strategy
Once you have chosen which social media sites to use, decide what each one can do for your business. Will it be for responding to queries, talking to customers or demonstrating your company’s expertise?
- Decide how quickly you will reply to queries – consumers usually expect to be acknowledged within 24 hours, but the faster you can respond, the better.
- Establish the right tone – users are more likely to interact with brands that aren’t overly formal or promotional in the way they communicate with them. Sales pitches should be avoided, focus instead on engaging your followers.
Share content they’ll find interesting
You can initiate conversations with your followers by using social media to share useful, informative and entertaining content. Above all, it should all be of genuine interest to the reader.
You could share:
- Your company blog posts.
- News articles relevant to your industry.
- Posts from business partners.
- Photos and images.
Manage your updates
You can schedule your social media updates and monitor feedback from your followers with online tools like Hootsuite, Buffer and SproutSocial†.
You can use them to:
- Receive an alert every time a follower leaves you a message on Facebook or sends you a Tweet.
- Schedule your social media updates when consumers are most likely to engage with them, e.g. first thing in the morning or at lunchtime.
Put social media into your business’s overall IT security policy so your employees understand how to use it responsibly. This will also reduce the chances of your accounts being hacked in to.
*2016 Social Media Industry Index
†Please note that these are just examples of the types of social media sites and social media management tools available and Lloyds Banking Group does not endorse the services they provide.