As a business owner, I know there is a love-hate relationship we have with Facebook. We hate the time-suck that it is and that it seems no one is even listening or seeing anything we are doing there, and yet it is still the most heavily used social networking channel. We know we “should” have a presence there, just like having a website in 1999 was an important form of legitimacy.
There is no doubt that Facebook still attracts the attention of 7 out of every 10 people in the United States. (You know the other 3 people just lurk from their spouse’s account) and that many businesses have seen great success using Facebook, Instagram, and other social sites as tools in their marketing.
So how can you successfully use this mega platform to actually convince people to leave their homes, where they can simply push a button and Amazon or Grubhub will deliver whatever they want, to come into your local business and spend money? Let’s take a look at some tips you can implement before the year comes to a close.
5 ways to use Facebook for your local business to build brand awareness and increase sales:
1. Get involved in local community Facebook Groups
Or better yet, start your own Facebook group for your city, town, or community interest. Facebook is more than Personal Profiles and Business Pages. It also has plenty of groups focused around specific interests, especially in the local community and neighborhoods. Most neighborhoods today have their own Facebook Group to share events, crime warnings, wildlife sitings, items for sale, recommendations, and more.
You can engage with your local community and let them know you’re more than a faceless business that wants to sell them things. You also get an idea of the issues concerning your local community, events you might want to attend or sponsor, and networking opportunities with other retail business owners in the area. Use the group to ask questions and share “BEST OF” lists– Best dog parks, best place to get dessert after 10pm, best picnic spots, and more. Throw out the question and have people comment with their answers and then offer to curate the list into a .pdf and share it back with the group.
What if you share the little league scores or high school sports scores weekly for the group? Who doesn’t want to be a part of a local group like that? The beauty of Facebook Groups is the members see every message, unlike a business page that usually has to work harder to get attention or use advertising and promoted posts.
2. Create PHOTO-WORTHY spots in your local business.
So perhaps you can’t get a giant blue bear sculpture outside your place of business, but fortunately, people will snap shareable photos with a lot less. It could be a great welcome mat that says “Great Shoes” and people will want to stand, snap and share. It could be something painted on the wall of your restrooms and people will snap and share there as well. Get creative and think of areas of your business that are brandable! Be sure to train your staff to spot groups snapping photos and go over to offer to take one of the whole party. That is great digital service.
3. Use targeted ad options on Facebook.
Facebook’s ad platform is pretty impressive, especially when it comes to the targeting capabilities you have for the audience. If you want to focus on Facebook users who live in a specific area, or who frequent businesses that are near your retail location, you can fine-tune who sees your promoted messages. Ads or sponsored posts appear in the newsfeed and look like a typical post, except that it’s marked as an advertisement. Make sure you monitor your ads that are running to respond to any comments or questions left on the ad post.
4. Run special promotions and events for your Facebook and social media fans.
Give your customers and potential customers a reason to pay attention to your page, and reward them for doing so. You don’t have to keep the promotions solely digital, especially if you want to increase foot-traffic on slow days.
Consider having deep discounts and flash sales that are in-store only but promote them online to get customers to come in. You can offer an in-demand product or other items discounted for the first 25 or 100 customers who come in on certain days. This sense of urgency encourages speed and enforces scarcity.
A trend that many are capitalizing on today is in-store experiences! Use Facebook and other social channels to let your community know you have a band playing or offer a tasting, a demo, or a yoga class or some other event for your fans. Experiences will draw those digital shoppers out and Facebook is a great place to talk about it.
5. Engage with your customers and prospects on your social media posts.
Many local businesses are still afraid of allowing comments on their social channels, fearing negative comments or reviews. People love social proof and if you allow comments on your pages you have the control that allows you to respond. If they comment on their own profiles or other pages, you can’t do anything about it. Invite reviews where you can participate.
People want to see that others like your brand as much as they do, so when you get a compliment in your place of business, ask if they would be willing to share that on your Facebook page or Google Review. Make it easy for people who are already happy, to share their feelings with the world. Today, “Word of MOUSE” is the new “Word of Mouth” when it comes to recommendations.
If someone is talking about your store, products or services, online, be sure to acknowledge them. Don’t leave comments, testimonials or questions on your Business Page unanswered. Let people know you hear them and appreciate every single comment left. [read: RESPONDING TO SOCIAL REVIEWS]
If there is someone being social with your brand on a regular basis, why not reward them with a special coupon or offer. Let them know you appreciate them sharing or engaging with you. Reward the behavior you want to be repeated.
We hope these 5 tips will inspire you to begin looking at Facebook with a fresh perspective when it comes to marketing your business. With a little creativity, you will have fans talking about you and more importantly…coming in to spend money! If you have more questions or want more ideas, be sure to join our DIY.social Group on Facebook, where entrepreneurs share ideas, tools, and resources to build their businesses!
If you are just getting that Facebook page set up we have created a guide that walks you through the steps to SET IT UP CORRECTLY and START GETTING FANS TO JOIN YOU! Download this free resource today!
I have a friend who would never allow people to pop in or come over if her house was not perfectly clean and orderly. She had two small children and she said she didn’t want people to see the mess. I always laughed and told her, if that were true for me, I would never have a visitor, announced or not.
There are some businesses that can’t allow people to pop in on them for fear they may see something less than perfect as well. They want everything well scripted and professionally produced before they will allow the world to stop by on their social media channels. They don’t like live-streaming for fear of being imperfect and some don’t even like allowing comments from fans on social media channels for fear of what they might post.
The problem with social media is it should be more… SOCIAL! It is “in-the-moment,” spontaneous, and yes…sometimes MESSY. If your team is waiting for approvals and meetings to take place before a response or post can go up, and you can’t share or ReTweet something from someone else’s profile because it was not screened ahead of time, your brand will struggle to be “social.” Social media is the place to let your audience peek behind the curtain and see how your products are made, your books are written, your team learns together, and how you play.
Some still think social media marketing is best for B2C businesses, but the reality is whether you are a B2B or a B2C, we are all in P2P relationships. Person to Person. We want to connect as one person sharing and providing value to another person. People like to see who they are dealing with at another business. They also want to connect with real people.
Like inviting a new friend over for coffee, social media in a B2B or B2C environment allows you to get closer and begin building the trust needed to establish a relationship. While people may not want to become “besties” with their cell phone provider, they do like to know they have someone there that cares and can help answer questions when they have one.
When I started researching for this post, I found a few B2B companies that were doing an amazing job with their ability to be social and show a human side to a rather technical industry, and of course I found a few that should close their social windows, draw the shades & sit quietly until people pass by.
Let’s take a look at a few good and bad examples of businesses on social media:
AGCO offers a full line of tractors, combines, and other agriculture equipment. They sell to distributors who sell to the end-user (farmer or rancher). You may think an equipment company would have no place on social media sites, but you’d be wrong. This company and their 5 brands are connecting and having real conversations with their distributors, fans and those seeking answers about the equipment.
What they share:
Lots of informational and helpful tips mixed with fun and more playful or personal photo posts. One that I found showed the spontaneity and fun. (Rainbows don’t wait for a committee to approve them.).
What social sites they are active on:
They have a WordPress Blog, Facebook, Twitter, and my favorite was their YouTube channel. They have an incredible collection of educational and informative videos (thousands of videos!) from their own team as well as from their community members.
What we can learn from them:
Provide as much information and helpful content as possible and be where your customers are to answer their questions. Be casual and conversational. Allow your community to be involved in teaching others about your products or services.
The Funeral Industry
This industry is one that you might shudder to think of on social media, but when you consider the fact that at least most of us, will need to secure the services of a funeral home sooner or later (hopefully much later), some make it a very “lively” social experience on their pages and profiles. Most funeral homes are very active in their communities and one, that shares great information as well as these fun community event photos, is Bartolomeo & Perotto in New York.
What they share:
Tips for caregivers and families dealing with aging parents or loved ones. Resources such as Meals on Wheels, hospice care contact information, local blood drives and fun charity walks and runs. You can find information on creative memorial services and explanations on cremation versus burial services. You will also find information on events they are involved in, such as their annual butterfly release (photo below), the 9/11 memorial parade, and their very popular “Stockings for Soldiers” campaign. The community shares the posts, shows up at their events and supports the causes that are close to their hearts.
What social sites funeral homes are active on:
While we found Pinterest boards filled with cemetery statues, memorial ideas, songs for memorial services, floral arrangements, urns and more there were only a few funeral homes who had created boards. Most of the content was user-generated. We found many funeral homes on Facebook and Twitter, and a few savvy enough to answer the many questions consumers have about funerals on YouTube.
And of course there are businesses that try to fit into a typical social mold but their target audiences don’t want to talk there. While I believe any business can learn to be social, the platforms each chooses may need to be very different. A Blog can be a safer place to learn about bipolar disorder than on Facebook, where I wouldn’t want anyone to see that I liked a page let alone that I asked a question or commented there. YouTube videos, and perhaps even Instagram are a better place for someone to learn how to treat acne than for me to follow and engage with @ZitBeGone on Twitter.
Medical and dental offices can be very social if they share helpful, fun and interesting information for their audiences. However, if you take out the fun and interesting posts, it leaves only content about veneers and crowns. There are only so many posts one can take showing the inside of people’s mouths combined with information on root canals. We did find several who know how to be social and are sharing fun community events along with helpful information. Love to Dr. Jim and his Tooth Fairies at Southwest Pediatric Dentistry. (We spent 6 years visiting these fun folks with 3 out 4 of our kids in braces!)
We can see the personality of a business on social media sites.
Download our FREE assessment to see HOW SOCIAL IS YOUR BUSINESS and get tips and tools to improve starting today!
So before hanging your social shingle out letting people know you are on social media, you might want to ask a few questions first:
Is our potential audience active on social media sites?
Which sites and platforms?
Do any of our competitors have active communities on these sites?
Can we write content, regularly, that is more casual in nature and “social” than what is found on our website? (You cannot simply regurgitate your web content over and over and call it social marketing.)
(Here are 30 ideas of things to post on your social media accounts when you don’t know what to say.)
Are we okay with sharing photos, videos, and stories of our team and the daily activities behind the curtain?
Are we okay with allowing our community to share their stories, videos, and photos on our pages and profiles or their own?
Are we okay with people posting feedback about our company, our products and services and even our team members on our pages?
What is the personality of our brand? Not what do we WISH it was, but what IS IT currently? Write the words that describe your brand and your team. Don’t portray one personality online and shock people when they come in to do business with you and your team members.
Are we prepared to let our social marketing team (or person) have some freedom to engage with people and respond in the moment without needing to micromanage?
Being successfully social means being a little vulnerable, and a little more honest about who we really are when the staged photos of fake team members are taken down and the perfect web copy fades away. Being successfully social means having a sense of humor and a more playful spirit. It means letting people pop in without worrying about them seeing a few toys and crumbs on the floor.
How do you feel about letting people see behind the curtain of your business? I’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment below or connect with me on your favorite social media channel… I’m everywhere YOU want to be! @GinaSchreck
Most new bloggers worry that no one will see their posts when they first start blogging and many on social media feel the same way when starting out. “Why should I post anything when no one is following me yet?” Then when people finally comment or retweet something there is no response. It takes a little more effort to build your blog audience than just writing great content.
The goal on any social channel, including your blog, is to build a relationship with people, one at a time. If you look at most social channels, it as if the goal is to broadcast how awesome the brand is or how great their lifestyle is. Not a whole lot of personal connecting going on.
While one-on-one connecting may seem counter to what most think of when using social media, you will build your blog audience and a larger following on any channel if you focus on relationships….one at a time. Most of the time brands are only focused on pushing out content and they forget the all important role of community management and growth activities.
When someone at a brand reaches out to you, comments on something that is not necessarily related to them, or they respond to something you said or a question you asked, you may just feel compelled to draw closer or take a second look at them. They show interest in you which immediately makes you more interested in them. The folks at Olive and Cocoa do this exceptionally well. They will comment or like one of my Instagram posts that has nothing to do with gifts or their brand. Each time they do, it adds a little affinity credit to their brand in my mind. I usually pop over to drool over all the fabulous gifts they have on their site and I lust after their Delancy Champagne Flutes one more time whispering, “one day you’ll be mine!” And yes I have made purchases from them because of this relationship-building.
Here are 5 ways to build your blog audience and your following on social media channels. This will go beyond just numbers, but will build relationships:
Further the Conversation
When someone takes the time to comment on your blog or social media channel, don’t just LIKE their comment or say “Thanks” for the comment. Further the conversation. Ask them a question. What specifically did they take away from your post or how have they seen it work elsewhere? Be sure it doesn’t sound like you are challenging them. I have had people ask me why I liked their social post or why I commented on a blog post. That’s just weird! It’s like being trapped at a party with the awkward person in the corner. I want to take it back and say, “Never mind…I don’t like it now.” Your goal is to continue the conversation, not interrogate them.
Make a Great First Impression
Before blindly connecting with someone that requests to connect on LinkedIn or Facebook, look at their profile and find something to comment on or start a conversation with. Start the relationship off with more than a blank connection that just throws them into your mix of connections.
If someone follows you on Twitter and they look interesting enough to follow back, go through a page of their posts first and retweet or comment back to them letting them know you find something helpful or interesting. Then when you follow them back, it will be more meaningful. You can add Twitter connections to a list and be sure to watch their posts a bit more closely for a while which will allow you to comment and share their content more readily.
HOW TO CREATE OR ADD SOMEONE TO A TWITTER LIST:
WHERE TO FIND YOUR LISTS ON YOUR OWN PROFILE:
If someone asks a question on your blog post or makes a comment letting you know that the content helped them, follow up in a couple of weeks (you most likely have their email from their comment) with an email asking if they have been able to implement the changes or new information you shared. See if there is anything else you can help them with, without throwing in an offer or mentioning anything promotional. If you have another blog post that you think could offer more insight or helpful information, definitely include that, but DO NOT try to promote your business here. You will go from strange and helpful blogger to spammy creeper faster than you can hit the delete key!This simple and quick act will most likely catch people off guard, after all, how often does a blogger take the time to email someone that commented on their posts? By showing you care and that you are actually interested in them, they will most likely come back and revisit your site.
Buy Them a Virtual Coffee
Do you have someone or a group of someone’s who share your content regularly or comment often on your blog? Why not let them know how much you appreciate them. Send a $5 eGiftcard from Starbucks or somewhere else letting them know you appreciate them or if you engage back and forth often, let them know you enjoy the virtual coffee chat time. Perhaps you have something of value, like an ebook or something else non-promotional that you could send them just to say THANKS!
Thank people for sharing your content through fun, personalized, and super simple images or gifs. Why not take a selfie holding a sign thanking the person by name or find a great gif at Giphy.com that says thank you better than just a simple LIKE on a post. I have a collection of fun THANKS FOR SHARING images or YOU ROCK photos that I like to send anytime someone shares one of my posts. It only takes a couple of seconds but sets you apart from the crowd.
Remember, people will repeat behaviors that get recognized and rewarded. Rewards can be monetary or sentimental. The smallest gesture showing gratitude or care can blossom into a life-long friendship. Don’t overlook these opportunities to build relationships that grow and turn mere readers into fans that will help drive people to your site!
If you are saying to yourself, “I wish I could just get someone to actually comment on my posts” be sure to read next week’s post— “How to Kick the Crickets From Your Blog and Get Readers and Comments” a case study and EXTREME MAKEOVER!
If you’d like some help on coming up with topics to blog about, be sure to sign up for the 15-Day Content Creation Challenge. Get a prompt for your blog or social media posts each day for 15 days sent to your inbox.
I appreciate you and hope you found some helpful tips to form greater relationships with your readers and social media connections. I know if you implement them you will see these relationships blossom and your numbers RISE!
We manage the social media accounts for many brands; Hotels that are open 24/7, consumer food products that are consumed 24/7 and many businesses that are not open 24/7 but whose customers and fans are online 24/7, and then there is our own brand that is not 24/7 but often feels like it. In the digital age we live in, our brand is open as long as there are consumers crawling around on our social channels and websites. It’s like they have keys to our front doors, even when we aren’t there. How quickly we are able to respond to a comment or question our customers leave can create a lasting impression…good or bad.
There is something very endearing about a brand that can respond quickly when you mention them in a tweet or post somewhere else. You feel validated and special! It is certainly no easy task to run a listening command center for your brand, but even the smallest of companies can benefit greatly from becoming faster on the draw when it comes to response time.
To manage the ever-growing online population, your company must have a plan on how to stay fast as well as maintain a high-level of customer service on social media. There are 2.1 million negative social mentions about brands in the US alone, according to a study done by Venture Beat.A full ten percent of us find something to complain about publicly, every day, and the sad fact is most of these complaints fall on deaf ears. A whopping 32.8 percent of the complaints go completely ignored.
Last week we had a consumer post a photo of a food product that had mold on it on the client’s Facebook page. It was 7pm. Our policy with this client was to notify them via phone before we responded to any negative comment. We already had an apology response crafted and ready to at least let the customer know they have been heard and we are working on a solution. The client was worried and wanted the legal department to give their input (yes this brand was new to social media), so we waited…and waited…and waited. We couldn’t even send the message letting the person know they had been heard.
The consumer, however, did not wait. They started tagging their friends, after 30 minutes, telling them not to purchase the product because it was bad, and a conversation blossomed … without us!
When a consumer posts a positive comment, they may not always expect to hear back right away from you to thank them for their wonderful comments, but when an angry person posts a question or comment, the timer starts ticking! Every moment counts. If you have to contact a manager to alert them of the situation, then draft a response to the person, send it to the manager, who has to send it to the legal team to approve it before you can say anything to the person online, you will have a much bigger problem, guaranteed.
The bottom line is speed and empathy when it comes to responding to a negative comment on social media. So how can you put systems and processes in place to help you respond faster to good and not so good comments on social? Here are 3 tips to get you started:
Be sure you go and grab your name on all social channels, whether you will use them or not.
This can get you into trouble if someone else can post as you. You also want to be able to quickly reply on the most popular channels, whether you use it for marketing or not. We have clients who insist that their audience is not on Twitter, and they don’t see the need to be active there, but Twitter is one of the top social platforms for venting and it should be used as a listening tool, if for nothing else. You want to be notified and able to respond quickly on any social platform.
Have a written plan.
Who will be contacted and how? Is there a different person to contact after normal business hours? Will you have a standard quick reply and then have a team of people or at least another person to help craft a more personalized answer? Having at least one other person involved will minimize the risk of someone responding defensively and inappropriately. If you are a solopreneur, a written plan will help you prevent a disaster if you get into a situation where you want to blast an angry response back or even when posting a heart-felt response that can get misinterpreted.
Plan some response templates.
There are certain common complaints any brand can anticipate whether you are a small fitness studio, a popular dairy company, or a large hotel chain, come up with a list of most likely complaints you might run across and then craft responses to each. These can be saved as drafts in Facebook or if you use a tool like Hootsuite, you can save them in your content library.
Be sure to look at your response times and your current process on a regular basis to find ways you can improve. With more eyeballs on our brands than ever before, we need to shine even brighter online when it comes to our level of customer service.
We’d love to hear from you. What do you do to prepare or to respond faster to customers on your social channels? Share them with us.
Download our SOCIAL MARKETING CHECKLIST to help you stay on top of daily, weekly and monthly activities for your social marketing.
I logged into Facebook to send a note to my mother the other day when I spotted a notification from one of my favorite online (Facebook only) clothing companies, Paisley & Taylor. Her message let me know that the velvet shirt dress I wanted last month was back in and she thought I should get the medium because of the way these fit. After ordering that dress and a few other things, I finally got around to sending my mom that message.
While I don’t log into Facebook in hopes of having brands contact me or try to sell me something, those who have taken the time to get to know me, my needs, and my likes, are exempt. When a business does social right, it feels personal. It feels like talking with a friend. It doesn’t feel salesy or spammy. This type of relationship may not always be possible with every brand or with each follower of your brand, but it is more possible today on social media channels than ever before.
When we all first flocked to social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and even LinkedIn, the focus was on acquisition. Companies were buying likes, buying followers and putting LION (LinkedIn Open Networker) in their LinkedIn profile to attract anyone and everyone. The problem with all of this random acquisition is when a brand then wanted to try and convert fans into paying customers or spend money promoting posts or advertising to their fans and followers, they were then having to spend money to reach these crowds of random people who will most likely never make a purchase. Now many are wishing they had a small group of targeted people who were more likely to buy from them. It’s like standing on a corner in New York City trying to sell something with everyone passing by ignoring you, versus a small town. We need to take a more personalized social media approach for greater conversions.
When you are connected to fewer people, you can have real conversations and get to know your fan base, get input from them, reward them with early release promotions and of course sell to them much easier than trying to get people to buy from your promotional blasts that are going out to the masses. Getting to know your fans allows you to send them blog posts or articles you know they would find helpful. It allows you to customize your services to them.
So what do you do if you have already amassed a large following? You can start injecting more social into your media. Spend time replying to things your fans are saying. Send a “Good Morning” message to a few people each day as if you were walking through the streets of Twitter town greeting them. Start conversations, join conversations, ask another question to further a conversation. Find those who are truly your target market and build relationships online through regular communication. And little by little, start to unfollow those that are dead weight.
The part most companies just don’t get is the SOCIAL part. The media part is easy. We’ve been pushing our messages out through different media channels since the beginning of time, but this social stuff… well, it’s just foreign to many. It really is a blend of sales, customer service, and marketing skills, and when done right, it is winning over, not just more customers, but more advocates who will become a sales team for your brand.
Get out and practice being social on your social media channels. Take some time to get to know who you are connected with and what they are talking about. Study your analytics and insights on each of your social channels to see who is connecting with you each week. If they are joining organically, you should be able to learn a lot from them. Use hashtags and keyword searches to see who is talking about your industry, your products or services and then join in the conversations without trying to sell anything. Let the relationships form first. If your profile is filled out, people will come and learn more about you.
Make this the year you get more personal– more intimate with your social community and watch your conversion rates grow!
I will admit it. I hate Halloween! I hate the mobs of zombies, scary haunted houses and definitely spider webs everywhere. But in social media, there are few things as scary as a mob of moms who want to teach you a lesson, and today Party City learned a scary lesson in social media management. I’m not sure what it is, but when another mom is in trouble our capes come out and we will fight for a fellow warrior!
So when Lin Kramer went to find her little three-year-old daughter a Halloween costume, she was disappointed to find the selections so limited for little girls in the career choices area. Boys could choose to dress up like police officers, mail carriers, fire fighters, ninjas (I think this is now a career), doctors, and many more, but in the girls section, there was a cheerleader (Is that a career?), a cowgirl, a princess (not sure how you apply for this one), and a “sexy” police officer with a V-neck top and ruffle skirt. When Lin posted her concerns on Party City’s Facebook page, the company replied with the standard, “We appreciate you bringing this to our attention…” and then…they DELETED HER POST! AHHHHHHHHH (insert psycho music here)
Never underestimate the power of a group of people on social media! Social media moms came out in support of Lin and canvased Twitter, Facebook and everywhere else, committing to boycott Party City until they apologized to Lin. I’m sure their social media team is dressed in Scooby Doo costumes today, saying, “Ruh Roh!”
The lesson here is, never delete a post from a customer who is bringing you valuable feedback. Like the toothbrush you get in your trick-or-treat bucket, you may not want it, but you can’t toss it in front of the person giving it to you. On Facebook, you can HIDE a post, which essentially hides it from the public, but the person who posted it, still sees it. This might be an option if you suspect the person posting is a troll or it is a fake post created by a hater. We manage the social media customer service for a few hotels and this will happen when someone throws out a post about bedbugs and we look at the profile, only to see the account was created that day, there are no posts or photos, and we suspect it is a competitor or disgruntled employee. We first ask for the person to contact one of our managers to gather more information. When they don’t reply at all, we simply hide the post. If the post looks legit and it is from a real person, leaving it out in the open allows the public to see how you handle difficult situations. Do people not realize we all LOVE taking screen shots, adding scary music, and making a bigger scarier scene than it really is?
Once again, another company allows us all to heed the warnings without enduring the pain. Thank you Party City for the reminder. When was the last time you had the conversation about how to handle a negative post with your team? If you don’t have one, create a crisis plan and a solid process before you need it. Make sure every person who touches your social media channels, knows it and can perform the necessary actions if needed.
You can run and you can hide in the basement, but just like in the creepy vampire movies, the fans of social media will find you! May I suggest the sexy garlic costume?
@GinaSchreck is not only a social media mom, but she is the president of SocialKNX, a digital and social marketing company. Helping you build your business and MANAGE THAT PRECIOUS BRAND!