Social media sites – websites that let people form online connections, interact and share information – have exploded in popularity in recent years.
More and more, businesses are switching on to the idea that taking part in social communities is a great way to engage with their target audience.
Read on for our overview of the main social media sites, and what to consider if your business gets on board with social networking.
The main social networks
Facebook is the best-known and most popular of the social networks, with more than 1 billion active users. You can post short messages, share photos and videos, recommend other websites, and much more. Facebook business pages let you build a community of fans and engage with them, leading to word-of-mouth recommendations and strengthening customer relationships.
Twitter is also popular with consumers and businesses alike. It lets you post very short messages, or ‘tweets’, on any subject. If you can build a list of followers, and be disciplined about writing useful, entertaining messages in a limited amount of space, it’ s an excellent way to keep your brand in people’s minds.
Google+ is a more recent competitor to Facebook, and has risen to be a popular network, with an estimated 540 million active users. Google My Business has business-friendly features, and being listed has the extra advantage of boosting your appearance on the Google search engine.
LinkedIn is a specialist business social network, which works through introductions from contacts. Because of this, it’s more often used for professional networking and recruitment, rather than speaking to customers.
Other popular sites include Pinterest, which lets users share and organise images, Tumblr, a blogging site that makes it easy to share content and links from around the web, and Instagram, a photo-sharing site.
Using social media
If you have a presence on any social media site, you need to keep it regularly updated with news, offers and interesting content. Visitors who see that your page, profile or feed is inactive won’t have a reason to engage with you and recommend you to others.
It’s also important that you have resources in place to reply to any contact you receive this way. If a customer contacts you via your social media presence, they will expect a prompt response – just the same as if they’d called you. Ignoring queries will give a poor impression of your business.
Don’t forget that as with all your forms of marketing, the aim of social networking is ultimately to generate sales leads. Although you must tread carefully and focus on the community aspect – full-on sales monologues won’t be appreciated – you should still clearly communicate what you offer, your credentials and how people can find out more.
Reputation management online
With social media platforms, a disgruntled customer can easily start spreading the word if they aren’t happy with your service. If this happens, it’s important to quickly and politely get in touch before it escalates.
Don’t be defensive or get drawn into a public debate – apologise and resolve the problem to stop the criticism in its tracks.
This article is provided only for general informational and educational purposes. It is not offered as and does not constitute legal or other professional advice on the subject matter in question. You should not act or rely on information contained in this website without first seeking professional advice on the subject matter in question.