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Try as you may, you simply cannot avoid the presence of social media in today’s society. Everywhere you look, you see the familiar icons of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media applications on a variety of different informational outlets, from Web sites and blogs to more traditional marketing pieces such as print advertisements and television commercials.
What started as a venue for people to communicate amongst themselves and share information with family and friends has turned into an increasingly important marketing component of businesses of all sizes. A growing number of consumers, especially younger ones, will visit a business’ social media site as readily as they would its main Web site.
This creates a perfect marketing opportunity for a small business owner or operator to target even more prospective customers, as well as maintain ongoing communication with his or her existing customer base. However, it’s typically not as easy as creating a simple Facebook page or Twitter account, adding a few messages, and just leaving it idle. For it truly to be successful, a concerted effort and commitment to its success is a necessity.
WHAT DO YOU WANT TO ACCOMPLISH?
Although from a distance all social media sites may appear similar in appearance and scope, the truth is many are geared for a specific goal or goals in mind. Identifying these goals is the first step in creating a social media site that fits into the overall operating process.
So, the question becomes: What do I want to accomplish with this social media site? Here are a few examples of possible paths to take:
- Marketing. Just like your main business Web site, your social media page can allow you to market your products and services. It can also be the perfect place to announce promotions, discounts and coupons, which in turn can help grow a following of customers to continually return to the sites or receive e-messages to check out the specials.
- Communication. Another purpose social media sites serve is communication to both current and prospective customers. These sites are perfect for businesses to push out communication messages to their customers and interested parties, as well as provide a forum where customers can ask questions, strike up a conversation with other customers, and make comments.
- A Combination of the Two. For some businesses, a combination of the two examples is the right fit, as they’re able to both market their products and services and allow for open communication in the same medium.
Regardless of the initial and ongoing goals of the social media sites created, a business owner and his or her staff should make it a priority in order to benefit from it.
TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE
Just like an outdated Web site being passed over because it shows its age or lack of maintenance, a social media site is not achieving its full potential unless it’s being regularly maintained and updated.
Imagine if you happened upon a social media site of a business you might be interested in, only to find that the information on their site and in their messaging was outdated and inaccurate. You would probably think twice before selecting them or, at the very least, you would likely continue your search for another provider.
The customer interaction aspect of many social media sites makes continuous monitoring of the sites even more important. Not answering customer questions or concerns in a timely manner can have significant ramifications, especially since the social media site is, in essence, an open public forum viewable to everyone. Depending on the urgency or scope of the question or concern posted, inaction can be viewed as negative not only to the customer, but also to current and prospective customers viewing the site. In today’s 24/7 world, many people expect a timely response to their questions or concerns, especially when asked on a social media site.
Fortunately, managing the interaction on social media sites can be as easy as checking e-mail, which makes this important task a usually simple responsibility for whoever is assigned to it. As most of us are connected to the Internet throughout the day, it’s an easily achievable goal.
Monitoring a social media site does not need to be as tedious as it sounds. And the end result is certainly worth the effort. So stay committed, and success will come!