The top 3 things every small business should be doing on social media

As a small business owner, you are a busy person. In between running the business, managing the staff and spending time with your family, you don’t have time to keep up with every new marketing strategy, especially the always-changing social media world. So what should you focus on? I asked our team of social media experts this important question and added my own reply below. Check out our answers:

What are the top 3 things every small business should be doing on social media?

MICHELLE BIZON, Social Media Account Manager

Be consistent.

When your competitors are interacting with your target audience on a daily basis, just creating an empty profile or disappearing for months at a time isn’t going to cut it. Keep your business information (hours, menu, services, etc.) updated, post regularly for top-of-mind awareness and jump into conversations with your followers.

Add a personal touch.

Customers love to support small businesses. The “little touches” are what keep them choosing you over the big box stores. Reflect that personality on your social media pages: Post personal photos instead of stock images. Use the same language online that you use in-store. Highlight your customers and staff members. Respond to questions and comments. Customers can tell whether you’re being authentic and will be turned off by gimmicks and blatant self-promotion.

Experiment and track.

While social media is about relationships, it isn’t all touchy-feely. If you don’t measure your progress, you won’t know whether you’re being effective. You don’t have to be a math whiz to do this. Keep a running list of posts that got a great response — and then do more posts like those. If you run a contest or promotion, keep track of the number of entries or redemptions — and then try to beat those numbers the next time you do one. In time, you’ll find your “sweet spot” and see more consistent engagement.

JENNA GROSS, Social Media Client Service Director

Monitor online reputation.

Since small business owners are super busy and may not have time to keep up with all review sites, just stick to the big ones: Yelp and Google. If TripAdvisor, Urbanspoon or other review sites are popular in your area, make sure you use them too. While Yelp sends notifications when someone writes a review, the others don’t do it and you’ll need to check them often. Get into the habit of going through reviews at least once a week and reply to all of them – the good, the bad and the in-between. The reviews will give you great insight about the areas of your business that are running well, and the areas you need to improve.

Build an online community.

Facebook is the most effective way to build an online community of your fans. It has the largest reach, and your time will be well spent there. Make your Facebook page about your fans, not about your business. It should be an entertaining place for your fans to talk to one another and connect. Ask questions. Ask for feedback. Share recipes, tips, and fun information with them. Get your staff involved too – they are the ones dealing with your customers daily and building connections with them.

Listen to your fans – and reply to them. People often say things online that they wouldn’t say in person; they feel more comfortable behind a computer screen! This can be good or bad for your business, depending on how well you handle the comments and reviews. If you start to see a pattern of complaints, look at your business instead of getting defensive. There is always room for improvement in any business, and your customers are the best source of ideas.

BRANDON FELL, Social Media Account Manager

Practice great customer service.

Every complaint, statement, review, post or tweet that you receive should be handled with care and excellent customer service. If someone is recognizing something they enjoy about your business, thank them for letting you know. If it is a bad comment or review (even if untrue), own the problem and fix it. There is no other platform where customers will feel more comfortable calling you out and complaining about your mistakes than social media sites – it is an easy way to avoid direct confrontation. Regardless, a simple apology or reimbursement will show not only your dedication to the reviewer, but to other customers as well. You always need to show your customers that you care, no matter what the occasion is, because this is the first step in turning situations around and gaining customers’ loyalty.

Quality over quantity.

You can deliver a more effective message with one creative, engaging, and relevant post rather than multiple “fluff” and bland ones, created just to fill in your page. Aim to create posts that are informational, funny, conversational, or empathetic. Diversify the content around your business, and don’t just post promotions – mix it all up to create the most interactive culture and to capture all types of social media users. Also, always be open and engaging with your online fans/followers, and interact with them as you would do in person.

Promote your online presence offline.

People need to know about your social media presence, so create some buzz! Make it a habit for employees to talk about the latest news on your Facebook or Twitter pages and have them mention special promotions that are only for social media followers! Post signs near the counter, register, or exit door and give away postcards and flyers to remind people about your social media sites. Spreading the word offline creates excitement and motivates customers to look at your online pages – and once they become fans and followers, it will be easier to encourage them to come back!

NATALIA MORAIS (Me!), Social Media Manager

Don’t try it all.

Focus on what you can do best. Social media changes all the time and as a small business owner, you won’t have time to keep up with everything. So choose the network that you are most comfortable with and make it the best page. It is better to have a great presence on one network than have many pages that are empty and not updated.

Listen to your customers.

In a social media world, everyone just wants to be heard. Make sure you reply to ALL comments and reviews, especially the bad ones. Also, always apologize – regardless of the customer being right or wrong. If someone had a bad experience with your business, they expect some type of apology from you. Follow the apology with an explanation of the facts and do not extend the conversation if there is a big problem – take it offline.

It is not all about you.

For social media, the 80/20 rule is key – 80% of your content should be about interesting things for your fans (like what is going on around the community you are in) and only 20% should be about you and your promotions. Customers are on social networks to keep up with their friends and family, so if you keep telling them about how great your chicken wings are, chances are that you are annoying them instead of motivating them to come in. Plus, people don’t like to be sold to (only 8% of US customers believe what businesses say about themselves). You have more chances of getting business from social media by showing who the people are behind the business than by doing promotions.

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