[box type=”info”]Chioma is a graduate of Mass Communication from Ebonyi State University, in Nigeria and Social Media from Birmingham City University, in England. A social media consultant, Chioma is intrigued by social media and how it affects/influences governance as well as its relationship with concepts of social capital, open data, and intelligent/big societies. A poet and contributor to various media (tweeting from @chiomachuka) Chioma is the Fairy GodSister on the blog www.fairygodsister.wordpress.com and does professional work at www.chiomachuka.com[/box]
Hiya!!! Welcome to the final and concluding part of the ‘not so social are we’ series. In the first one I talked expressly about how the information we give out on social platforms comes back either to haunt us, or just make us look silly.
Today I’ll be touching on how to utilize social media for your business, whether commercial or philanthropic. The definition of social media being communication enhanced by technology still stands but with a little twist.
Regardless of what we think, our consumer/audience want to talk to us as much as we want to intimate them of the products/services we offer. Times have changed; communication between a business and its target demographic has moved from being from top to bottom to being from left to right to right to left and on and on and on. When the consumer feels like a business isn’t ‘listening’ to them anymore, they unconsciously start searching for a new one. Why? Everyone wants to be acknowledged, everyone wants to be heard. The consumer wants to know you care about them, and in their minds that translates to you listening to their praise, criticisms, and catering to their concerns. In these days of the most effective form of advertising being word of mouth, it will be foolhardy to ignore a consumer.
The good thing is social media is such a great listening tool when correctly. For instance, let’s say I run a restaurant and I’ve put up y Twitter handle or Facebook page address on a board in the dining area; my staff ‘encourage’ people to drop a line there after their meal. That’s feedback and PR! Even if they didn’t like something and they write about it, by apologising to them in public you have the opportunity to use that fiasco to your advantage.
Let’s run through a few tips business owners will find useful. Get in touch with me on Twitter (@chiomachuka) if you need clarification on anything.
- It’s better to have a fan/business page on Facebook where people make the decision to like your page rather than the groups where you just add everyone.
- Allow discussion boards. Drop topics that people can discuss, air their views. Sticking with my restaurant example, a topic could be, ‘roasted or chargrilled chicken? Why?
- If you’ve got a website, place widgets linking to the social networks your business is subscribed to. It adds to the general aesthetics of your site and is a quicker way for them to check you out there as well.
- Make it lively! Use relevant pictures, videos, and polls to spice up your page and make the consumer want to come back.
- Most importantly, don’t use your business page for personal stuff. Let the brand be heard, not you. So, if it doesn’t have anything to do with the business, it shouldn’t be on the page.
- Keep people interested in your company. It takes some effort, but constantly using your 140 characters to pique the interest of your audience will ensure they don’t look elsewhere.
- Post links to interesting (but relevant) articles and information. Back to the restaurant example, justify an item on your menu using research. Let your consumers see the edge they have by dinning at yours.
- Monitor DM’s and mentions effectively, and make it a point of duty to reply as many people as you can.
- Provide real value; invite them to ask questions, constantly remind them of your product/service, and inform them of the latest offers/deals via Twitter.
- Document challenges, and be proud of your achievements (applies to Facebook as well).
For both Facebook and Twitter, remember our definition of social media; it is a never ending conversation and should be used as such. Using it only as an avenue to put out links to your activities will alienate people and probably even get you reported for spam, the exact opposite of what we’d want.
General rule of thumb? Again, let’s take a few seconds to think of the immediate and future effects of the things we post online; but in this case, if the cons outweigh the pros, shelve the idea.
Follow Chioma Chuka on twitter @ChiomaChuka