It is very important for a business to have an online presence to grow faster in the rapidly evolving internet world. It has been proved that companies with an online presence grow faster than ones without it. Having an online presence for your business is no longer a choice – it is a necessity. Online presence has many aspects – websites, portals, eCommerce capabilities and social media. Of these, social media (channels like facebook, twitter, linkedin, blogs, youtube etc) is the least effective in enhancing sales yet it is important to have a good strategy for the social media presence. The effective use of social media for business promotion is an evolving study. Companies are working on how best to utilize social media to enhance sales and increase the topline. Research is on to analyze the ROI from using social media as a sales tool. In the near future, we may have case-studies on companies that have used social media in a revolutionary way for achieving business goals. Till then, let us look at the basics of doing the right things for your business using the social media channels.
The four most important aspects of enhancing online presence through social media are:
- 1. Social Listening – You have to be an effective listener on the social media channels. Listening is an important skill in the legacy communication system and it holds true even in the internet world. Be proactive in the listening process. Let the news that you are interested in come to you through subscription of RSS feeds. Actively look out for articles that can impact your business through Google blog search using specific keywords. Google blog search actively looks for your keywords in feed enabled blogposts. Google alerts is an important tool that monitors the web for new content and sends consolidated emails for topics related to your business. Automate the news search process by using aggregator platforms like Social Mention or Board Reader. Social mention is a social media search engine that gives you parameters like the strength, sentiment, passion and reach of the keywords along with a host of other insightful data. Board reader is a search engine for forums and boards that gives trends on posts made online in your area of interest. Both these tools and similar tools will add to your social listening capability, which is of utmost importance. The insights from the social listening process will assist you change the direction of your social media strategy, towards your business destination.
- 2. Social Interaction – The next logical step to listening is responding to your readers (prospective customers or business contacts or even employees), engaging them in a dialogue and forming a meaningful conversation with them. If a question is posted for you, respond to it as soon as possible, within a few hours. If you do not, your readers will assume you are not listening. They will refrain from contacting you again. You will eventually end up losing business contacts by not interacting with your readers in a mutually beneficial way. Avoid automated answers as a solution. Automated answers can be the first step but make efforts to ‘respond to the person’ posting you a question or comment.
- 3. Social Community – As you listen and interact on the social media, you should focus on creating communities relevant to your business. Social interaction is not just about ‘Taking’ but also about ‘Giving’. Share news and insightful articles you read elsewhere with your readers. Help members get over their problems in a non-sales way. Guest visitors are your indirect customers – be helpful and cordial during their online visit. By providing help and answers to your visitors, you are providing value that means something positive to them. You have an indirect customer for life. In the process, search engines will rank your pages highly as helpful pages and bring in more visitors to your business. Thus, by effective social listening and meaningful social interaction, you can build a very strong social community for your business.
- 4. Social Identity – Social identity relates to the identity of the business as perceived by the social community through your social listening and social interactions. Having a social identity aligned with your business goals is very important. Your social media identity can have a big impact on your professional reputation. Irrespective of your activity levels, you will have a social media identity that your prospective customers or business contacts or employees with identify you with. It is better, therefore, to start thinking and planning about creating the right social media identity for your business. You can read more about creating the right social identity for your business.
Final Takeaway – Yes, social media is about using the different channels on the internet. These are additional channels available to us for enhancing our business. However, the concepts of the traditional form of communication are still valid in the world of internet, more so when you use it for business purposes (or even for increasing your blog readership). Most people concentrate on just getting the content out and think the internet will take care of the rest. Yes content is the key but so is the receiver. If you keep the receiver out of consideration while creating content, it will not resonate. It will not bring in the desired results. The internet is not a magic land. The biggest takeaway would be to consider the receiver (your prospective customer or business contact) as a human being and make a very conscious and dedicated effort to strike a meaningful conversation with the receiver of your content. The social media is only a tool to be used for it. The gist in one line “Use Social Listening effectively to engage in meaningful social interaction that adds value to visitors who become a part of your social community and thereby, create a very positive and influential social identity for your business.”
Blogs on Social Media for additional information by experts:
1. 16 Social Media Marketing Tips – by Cindy King
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