Social Media and you…

Posted by Siobhan Hitchmough

Have you thinking about making the jump to social media but concerned that you’ll be devoting lots of time for minimal return?  Social media integration can be daunting and as with any other form of promotion, social media should be evaluated for its benefits to your business, which may include increased sales, wider brand recognition, or stronger customer loyalty.

Recent studies suggest that while many businesses are expecting a lot from their social media platforms, the return they see in sales specifically may not be as high as some expect.  As a result, many businesses give up on social media sites quickly, creating them and allowing them to remain open but idle.  In fact, SmallBiztrends.com reports that while “95 percent of companies have added social media to their mix;” nearly 50% of those using social media are only experimenting or have done nothing since creating their accounts.   That’s quite a large number, and in view of the growing trend towards social media integration there are likely to be drawbacks to leaving your site idle once it’s been created.

The fact that social media is becoming so much a part of modern business marketing means that etiquette seems to be developing surrounding how to behave online.  In a recent article on customer retention, GetSatisfaction.com suggests that there is such a thing as social media overkill.  Too many Twitter updates or email campaigns can kill your customer retention, sending otherwise happy customers running for the hills.  However the opposite is also true, a little attention can go a long way towards customer loyalty.  Consider how you felt the last time you spoke to a customer rep.  Were they polite?  Helpful?  Did it reverse feelings you were nurturing from a previous poor experience?  If a little politeness can make you forget about past conflict, think about what a little social media marketing could do for your brand loyalty!

Since monetary returns from social media can be difficult to track it seems the key to maximizing their use is minimizing your time spent and maximizing attraction of your postings so that customers want to read what you’re writing.   And if you’re still unsure, starting small and keeping in mind that any social media is an extension of your brand may make things easier to manage.  For instance, if you’re a smaller retail store, Twitter updates about upcoming sales may be a good way to increase the number of customers you have coming into the store.  If they know there’s going to be a sale when they arrive they may be more willing to make the trip.  On the other hand, an online retailer may prefer to keep a blog where they can discuss trends and point to the many available items on their website which fall in line with those trends.

Evaluate your strengths as a company, your brand image and anything you know about your customers (for instance, Facebook is very popular with most consumers) in order to determine the best course of action.  Start with one social outlet so you’re not overwhelmed and learn how to make it work for you and with your current schedule (which if you’re a small business owner is likely BUSY).  Most of all keep yourself succinct and interesting, approachable but professional and true to your brand.  You may end up with a more loyal following as a result!

About Siobhan Hitchmough

Siobhan Hitchmough is a customer advocate, community manager and part-time tutorial wrangler. When she's not seeking out new challenges she leads the community and support team at inFlow Inventory.

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