Social media is about engaging customers where they’re at. You can’t afford to ignore it any longer, especially as a small business. In our experience, we see three levels of using social media and three direct results due to those levels of engagement. To be truly successful, social media has to be a genuine part of what you do, but not everything you do. It’s just one marketing tool to reach everyone out there (be careful to choose the social media sites that match your company and message). If social media is done well, it can bring in new customers and create some really cool customer relationships. Knowing the levels and being prepared for what level you want to be at is a great starting point.
Stage 1: You Have Social Media
This stage is pretty straight forward. Someone told you that you needed to be on social media so you’ve set it up and, well, that’s about it. You might have a profile picture on Facebook or a description of your company on Twitter. There is no plan in place and you feel scattered and overwhelmed by getting things up so that’s where things stay.
Result: Fans and potential customers find the company on social media and it looks like you don’t have your things together offline because everything is random and unfinished online. You quickly lose credibility and trust that’s hard to get back. You gain a reputation for not being active.
Stage 2: You Use Social Media
You’ve created a social media marketing plan including your targets, tools and what you’ll say leaving room for whatever the customer wants to talk about. You are active in posting and sharing information. You start to reply to posts and have a few interactions on Facebook and Twitter.
Result: Fans and potential customers find you online and sometimes engage on social media. They are well aware of your brand and recommend you to others. Another great result is that your social media marketing drives traffic to your website. You are gaining credibility, trust and a solid reputation.
Stage 3: You Integrate Social Media
Integration means using social media so that it becomes a part of your company, showing the fun side as well as showcasing your keen knowledge of the industry you’re in. Social media works seamlessly with your website and drives people to it. You have a blog that gives useful info, fans that comment on your Facebook page, you’re often retweeted and your G+ circle is really active. You engage with a lot of customers and have deeper conversations because you are using the tools in the right way.
Result: Fans and potential customers find you, love what you are saying as a subject leader in the industry and discover your beautifully designed website by Go Web Solutions. They interact with you often across many sites so multiple conversations are going on at once whether about your specific business or business in general. Being active means that you not only blog, but that the blog is connected to your social media sites. You form lasting and authentic customer relationships because people can rely on you being available just as easily online as offline. Often your customers talk for your brand and it’s better than what you could have created on your own. All of this together generates ongoing buzz (how large the buzz gets is totally dependent upon how active you are). You have credibility and trust with a strong reputation for being THE leader in your field.