Whether it is Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat or Instagram, social media now provides several ways for businesses to market themselves, depending on their audiences.
LinkedIn, for example, is great for companies to discuss the latest business trends, while Instagram works well for retailers – from the high street right through to home businesses.
Two of my recent clients, one a retailer and the other an event manager, fully understood the value of social media marketing, especially in the GCC, and wanted to tune into that medium for their businesses. They set up pages on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and then asked: “Now what? How do we get customers to notice us?”
Jumping onboard the social media bandwagon with no previous experience can be challenging, particularly if you are at the stage of just trying to understand how it works and who the main influencers are. Learning how to get more likes may require hiring a social media manager to take on this responsibility.
Whether you choose to hire someone or plan to take on the job yourself, here are some basic guidelines to bear in mind:
■ Tune in
It can take a while to understand your target audience on social media. The beauty of it is that you do not need to do a lot of talking. Tune in to what your target audience members are into right now. Look at the photos they post and the news they share. Are they discussing a product similar to yours? What do they like about it? What do they hate? Take notes. Social media provides a great way to analyse potential customers, which helps in building the right strategy to approach them.
■ More is not necessarily more
While you may want to have 200,0000 followers on your pages in no time, remember that quantity doesn’t necessarily mean quality. There are many companies that offer to buy you followers just so that your page looks more appealing. However, users can often tell when a business has bought its followers. It is better to have 500 or 1,000 customers who are genuinely interested in your brand, talk about it and engage with you, than to have 100,000 ghost followers who do nothing for your business. One way to attract a following is to tell your customers you are online. Highlight this in your packaging, in-store and in your email signatures. Highlight it everywhere you can and they will come.
■ Be patient
Social media marketing success needs time to achieve results. People need to know more about the company and your page before they commit to following it.
■ Find social influencers
Social influencers can be a great help in raising awareness about your brand. Look online for local and regional influencers who are relevant to your company and who you believe match your business. Also, ensure their audience is the kind you would like to have as clients. Do not simply pick an influencer with a large following. Their followers may be too young, too old or ghost followers, and perhaps not interested in the product or service you are providing. When you find the right fit, approach the influencer and discuss how they could be of aid to raise awareness about your business through their pages. Many now ask for compensation in return for a dedicated post. Consider it as an advertisement platform.
■ Do not ignore your users
Just as you would not ignore a customer who walks in to your store, do not ignore users on your social media pages. If they post a question, respond in a timely manner. Building relationships and maintaining a rapport between you and your users ensure that they do not stop following your page or bad-mouth your business for not providing good customer care.
Keep those basic rules in mind and ensure that whoever manages your page does the same as well. If used correctly, social media marketing can offer a low-cost boost to your business.
Manar Al Hinai is an award-winning Emirati writer and communications consultant in Abu Dhabi. Follow her on Twitter at @manar_alhinai.
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