Social media has become an increasingly important avenue for businesses to connect with customers. With unlimited and sometimes overwhelming amounts of information on the web, people are turning to the Internet, and social media, specifically, to find information.
Statistics show that 46 percent of customers use social media as their primary source of purchasing and that 71 percent of all Internet users are active on at least one social media. Social media is the number one place customers turn to during the decision making process, leading many companies to increase their online presence.
With the vast number of potential customers on social media, businesses must engage online in order to stay relevant in the consumer’s mind. Whether you are using Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter, there are several strategies to help your company gain followers and increase sales — for FREE!
Increase Sales Using Social Media, Without Spending Money
While many companies pay to advertise on social media, there exists a much better way to attract customers. Think about the brands that you buy, brands to which you are loyal, and brands that have earned your trust. Did any of them win you over with fancy ads or selling techniques? … Probably not.
You buy brands from companies that you trust because they have cultivated a relationship with you, and, in doing so have built your trust. This could be from following through on their product’s commitment, or by having excellent customer service. Regardless, they have won you over as a lifetime buyer.
So how do you gain loyal customers and brand advocates for your business? By following these simple steps.
1) OUT-EDUCATE YOUR COMPETITION
CEO of CATMEDIA Catherine Downey put it best when she said, “we want to out-educate our competition.” In short, this means that as a business, you want to provide useful information that keeps your customers coming back for more. And you want to be better than the competition! In order to out educate your competition, you must first know your audience.
Know Your Audience
This may seem like common sense, but knowing who your target audience is will go a long way in deciding what you are going to post on social media. Does your audience like humor? Do they want the facts? Is your average customer a 23 year-old graduate student looking for the best deal, or a 56 year-old executive seeking a luxury item?
Asking these types of questions will help you hone in on to whom you are speaking to, and what their needs are. “Putting a face” on your consumer will make future decisions simpler, and will attract potential consumers.
Provide Content that is Relevant
Consumers go on social media because they want to share information, and have their questions answered. With the mass of information out there on the Internet, your company needs to not only be credible, but a source that consumers actively seek out for information.
Many people follow businesses for their content, whether this is informative, humorous, or insightful; followers are getting value from what is shared. Providing content that is relevant will not only attract your potential customers, but will also allow you to share thought leadership with your current followers.
One way to share your thought leadership is to write a blog. Starting a company blog is an excellent way to create useful content that can be easily shared, while promoting thought leadership within your company. Blogs are easy to share on social media and will not only provide the useful information your customers crave but can lead followers back to your website.
Your blog should contain information that is relevant to your business as well as your target audience. Providing expert opinions, how-to’s, and Q&A’s will increase your blog’s credibility, not to mention the credibility of your company.
When You Can’t Create, Curate!
While not everyone has the resources to create and maintain a blog, you can still provide valuable information to your followers. Finding articles or blogs written by others in your field can be an excellent way to curate content for your social media platforms.
To make these articles ready and available right in your inbox, you just have to subscribe. Providing links to these articles and adding your own insights or opinions will give customers access to the content they seek. Although you didn’t write the articles personally, they will be providing your followers with useful information.
2) ENGAGE WITH CUSTOMERS
Why do people use social media? To connect. People on social media are looking to connect with other people. Users want to be heard and listen to opinions they value. Your business’ opinion could be one of them.
Engaging with customers by asking simple questions, and responding to them in a timely and attentive fashion is an excellent way to build relationships and brand advocates. When consumers feel that you have taken the time to listen to them, they feel validated and begin to think positively about your brand. Once the relationship has begun to flourish, consumers will be much more likely to follow through on your Calls To Action (CTA)
Your CTA can be simple, like asking a customer to repost something, or by prompting them to visit your website. Simple CTA’s like these can mean additional interaction with the user that might not have otherwise have happened.
Using CTA’s that involve sharing, linking, or commenting can expand the reach of a post or update, making its way to an exponentially larger number of potential customers. When your post is shared and re-shared, you are expanding beyond your initial reach with FREE publicity. This results in new followers, which can turn into new leads for sales.
3) STAND OUT FROM THE CROWD
With the millions of users on Twitter and other social sites, providing relevant content isn’t enough to get noticed. You don’t want your perfectly created update to be scrolled past and unread. By using these additions, you can stand out from the hundreds of other businesses and grab your followers’ attention.
Using photos along with your excellently crafted post adds more value to your update. A picture is not only “worth 1000 words,” but is visually appealing. Photos are more likely to engage followers and can add more value to your post. A picture doesn’t just have to be a visual aide, adding text over an image can be an alternate option.
Include hashtags on Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest posts. Using hashtags allows people who are searching the hashtag the ability to see your post, and potentially engage by liking or sharing your content.
Creating a branded hashtag also allows others to engage with your business, and you can see what others are saying about you. You can find new connections that fit within your target audience, garner leads, and increase sales. Creating a personal hashtag creates consistency and leads to brand recognition.
4) BE CONSIsTENT
It may seem like contradictory information, since I just told you to stand out; however, remaining consistent will not only attract followers, but also keep them coming back for more. You want your message and company to be in sync, in the same way that your business is branded with a specific color or logo. Your social presence should be branded with its own personality. In many ways on social media, you are your brand.
From the quantity of your posts, to your tone of your voice, you want to remain consistent.
This gives followers a sense of what they can expect in your content and updates. If someone chooses to follow you, they enjoy what you have shared and are looking for more. However, this does not mean providing the same content over and over, but rather delivering it in a similar format. This could be instructional How-to’s and DIY’s, or how often you share content.
Whichever “personality” you choose, be sure it blankets over all of your social media endeavors, including posts, interactions, and your business.
5) TRACK EVERYTHING — Analytics
So how do you know what is working? That you are not just talking to an empty room? How can you be certain that your posts and updates are not just echoing away into obscurity?
Simple. You utilize analytics. Analytics allows you to track everything you post, from likes to shares, impressions, and even sentiment. Tracking and analyzing this data will allow you to see exactly what is working for your business and what isn’t.Most social sites (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn) have their own analytics built in, but for everything else there is Google Analytics. You can plug in all of your sites, along with your web site and blog, and track data in real time.
You can use the data to navigate a plan that will be successful for your business. Are the pictures you posted doing great and engaging users? Or are the numerous hashtag updates falling flat? Tracking the numbers provides numeric proof of what you’re doing right and wrong, then you rinse and repeat what works. With the help of tracking you should be able to implement these strategies to gain followers and increase sales!
Do you have any other tips or tricks that you use? Let us know in the comments, and follow CATMEDIA’s blog or visit our website for more useful tips and tricks!
CATMEDIA creates social media campaigns and provides social media management services that generate name recognition and cultivate relationships with consumers.
CATMEDIA is an award-winning Inc. 500 company based in Atlanta, Georgia. Founded in 1997, the company specializes in advertising, creative services, media production, program management, training, and human resource management. As a Women Owned Small Business (WOSB), CATMEDIA provides world-class customer service and innovative solutions to government and commercial clients. Current CATMEDIA clients include Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Office of Personnel Management (OPM), and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).