We’ve been talking a lot about social media lately as LCT opened its first Instagram account in September and LCT editors are boosting B2B coverage of social media business tools.
Unlike linear media, social media marketing spans layers and multiple directions. Since the Internet serves as a permanent record, small businesses can use social media to gather marketing intelligence, build their brands, enhance their reputations, manage customer service more efficiently, and find new sales leads, just to name a few.
How do you gauge return? A better reputation only pays off if it helps the bottom line. You measure return by increased leads, online and offline traffic, and ultimately, sales. Social media marketing done right each day helps small businesses improve their reputations and reach, increase customer loyalty and frequency, and provide more profit. However, many small businesses (just like many big businesses!) are still failing at social media, either not spending enough time to bring about meaningful results or spending time doing the wrong things, such as trying to sell before listening.
If you thought about social media as a cocktail party — listening, telling great stories, asking questions and being interested — rather than as a sales and marketing channel, then ironically, you could turn social media into an efficient marketing channel.
Another misconception is that we’re still thinking of social media marketing and community building as a quick campaign, such as three weeks of traditional advertising or a day of cold calling. Too many small businesses that try social media marketing either don’t do it right or long enough, or both, and then give up, thinking it doesn’t work. In reality, you should expect to see (and by all means track!) results within six to nine months. It’s a bit risky to put in that much time and/or money without a guarantee of a return. But that’s how social media marketing works. It takes time.
Here are three solid things you can do to start building a community that should generate a return now:
1) Start, always, with your current customers: Offer a special limited time discount to those who “like” you on Facebook. Your customers’ friends will notice and help generate more qualified fans.
2) Buy $100 in Facebook ads targeted to businesspeople in your market: Use Facebook’s targeting system to reach people who work in banking, technology or legal fields, or whatever highline industries your area serves. Drive them to like your page and not just go to your website.
3) Share great content with your fans: Pictures of your company supporting a charity, a video of a gala or special event with your vehicles, or a stat about how much safer and cost-effective your service is compared to competition and/or Uber. Better yet, ask your customers and fans to share their best photos.
Then watch your leads and sales gradually roll in, all from just $100 and some of your time invested. Yes, it’s that easy, but only if it’s done right.