Social Media for business – part two

You may already have seen that I recently attended a two day Social Media workshop – a fantastic opportunity organised by Digital Growth in Nottingham, which aims to teach everything businesses need to know in order to amplify their impact and reach on social media. In case you missed it, you can read my blog post summarising the key learnings from Day One here.

In our second session, we focused on the importance of building awareness and reputation, as well as best practice when it comes to customer service online. Here are a few of the highlights I took away.

Building awareness

1. The awareness stage is crucial when it comes to social media – content creators need to work especially hard to capture their audience and break through the deficit of attention that exists amongst them, in order to provide value and to be more unique.

Those who use social media regularly will know that a common action amongst peers is to share something that’s caught our eye – be it a funny video or meme, a sale or promotion, or a great piece of visual inspiration – with our friends, by tagging them into the post or forwarding it on.

When creating social content, you should always take the time to consider:

  • If your target audience will find it useful
  • Whether you can add any further interest
  • How helpful and valuable your post actually is

Your followers need to feel compelled to share posts within their own social circle, and this needs to remain at the forefront of your approach to posting content, especially if your focus or objective is to increase the number of followers you have.

Instagram is a fantastic tool, allowing you to showcase your business or brand from a behind the scenes perspective. Instagram stories offer you the chance to reveal the faces behind the posts, and provide further insight into your employees – their interests and experience – all the while adding a personal and human quality to your posts that will spark engagement and ultimately set you apart from your competitors.

Remember that it is highly likely that the majority of people buy from people.

– Liam Lally, Digital Growth Social Media Trainer.

2. Importantly, in order to raise awareness about your business amongst your audience, you also need to ensure that your content is discoverable. Hashtags are the perfect way to do this since they ensure your post will show up in the search results of people who have clicked on the same hashtag.

When it comes to selecting the right hashtags for your post, you need to adopt the correct approach and research which ones are relevant to the target audience you’re looking to connect with. There are a number of ways you can do this:

  • Location hashtags: remember to use these if you are targeting people in a specific geolocation
  • A third party tool or website: try out tagsforlikes.com for a quick solution to finding categories of popular hashtags across a range of interests and industries
  • Instagram’s handy suggestions for closely related hashtags: all you need to do is type in a suggestion into the search bar, select the ‘tags’ tab along the top, and you’ll see alternative options for related hashtags, along with a figure explaining how many people have already posted using that hashtag

Examples of Instagram hashtags from social media for business workshop

3. Another handy tip is to not underestimate the value of live chat. Joining a local or industry Twitter chat can be a fantastic method of building a rapport with your audience – a powerful tool to connect and learn from other people and openly ask questions that you wouldn’t normally get the opportunity to ask.

Contributing to, or hosting your own Twitter chat is a great way to engage people across any topic. If you’re considering doing so, you may wish to keep the following tips in mind:

  • Include a hashtag
  • Answer all questions
  • Have a ‘theme’ for each chat, or a series of questions that you aim to cover
  • Don’t clash with another chat, especially if it’s popular or related to your industry
  • Promote your chats across your social channels in the right tone, so as not to sound spammy
  • Ensure you hold your chats at the same time every week
  • Don’t quit! Although they can’t take time to build momentum, Twitter chats are a powerful way of raising awareness both locally, and within your industry.

Effective customer service and dealing with negativity online

Committing to engaging with your customers is imperative, even past the point of purchase. Indeed, you should be grasping any opportunity to turn your customers into loyal customers, and furthermore into invaluable brand advocates.

All too often, brands shy away from interacting with customers online, particularly if they have received negative comments. However, you must keep in mind that you are likely to have more satisfied customers than dissatisfied ones, and that negative comments or reviews can actually increase conversion rates since people are aware they’re shopping in an authentic environment.

Getting reviews should therefore be an integral part of your social strategy; you should see all customer engagement – positive or negative – as an opportunity for you to build the advocacy for positive reviews by:

  • Acting appropriately and responsibly
  • Showcasing your brand values
  • Investing into building all-important trust
  • Show that you’re listening, and crucially, that you care

Don’t forget – your customers can see everything online – a prompt, polite and helpful public response will do so much more for your reputation than no response at all. If you do receive good feedback, make sure you use the opportunity to ‘like’, reply and re-post the feedback to your own profile.

So, aside from actively encouraging and prompting feedback (which is a great approach) how can you stay up-to-date and ensure you’re receiving, and reacting promptly to, customer feedback and engagement?

  1. Get into the habit of checking your customers’ conversations on Twitter weekly. You mustn’t assume that your customers know how to @mention your business. Often, they will simply use your business name when providing feedback, so ensure you’re ‘listening in’.

You can do this by using your Twitter search function to search for:

  • <your business name> + disappointed
  • <your business name> + angry
  • <your business name> + poor
  • <your business name> + love
  • <your business name> + happy
  • <your business name> + amazing

Don’t forget, you can search for more than @mentions or your business name. For example. try slight variations to capture comments where the customer may have misspelt your company name, or the names of individuals in your business who may have been directly involved in the customer journey.

Handily, you can save searches such as these on Twitter, so you can easily continue to check in, and there are great tools out there that can help you, such as Tweetdeck, Hootsuite and Mention.

2. Most social channels have some element of private or direct messaging available, so utilise this to your advantage wherever possible:

  • Twitter’s direct messaging function is particularly useful since you aren’t limited to the usual character limit, which allows you to have full, detailed conversations and really ensure you’re addressing the feedback from all areas
  • Facebook’s ‘Add & Manage Labels’ function is a great way of organising your inbox, to filter feedback and comments into different categories, even enabling you to add notes to keep better track of what’s been said

3. Keep an eye out for ways of facilitating frictionless conversations. Facebook’s ‘Response Assistant’ is a fantastic tool for alleviating pressure related to responding to comments. Automated responses can provide a simple and effective solution, enabling you to free up more time, and the customer to instantly receive the information they require – (we all like a win-win situation!)

Great examples of this include:

  • a messenger greeting
  • an instant reply (e.g. thanks for getting in touch, we’ll be in touch A.S.A.P)
  • an away message (e.g. thanks for contacting us, our offices are currently closed, we’ll respond as soon as we can. Thank you for your patience)
  • publishing a typical response time is another effective, positive signal, which helps to set expectations from the get-go.

The workshop definitely reinforced what a powerful tool social media can be when it comes to business – in both positive and negative ways. With so much to think about, I think it’s important to reinforce the message that when it comes to social media, always be kind, be generous, and be valuable.

If you’re looking for help with using social media for you’re business, get in touch, we’d love to have a chat.

Written by Olivia Lowden

Brand & Office Manager