Post by: Mustafa Stefan Dill– Ummah Relations
I’ve fielded some inquiries lately on social media tips for small businesses, both from small businesses and as part of some online discussions. It’s a hard question to answer, because every business, market, audience, and goal is different. However, there are some broader principles you can keep in mind that will stand you in good stead, no matter what type of business you are in.
Whether you’re a business doing social media alone or you’re using a SM strategist, here are four frames of reference to put you in the right “mindset” that will help you and your strategist be on the same page.
Social media platforms and technologies are evolving at a rapid pace, as are the strategic and tactical possibilities that grow out of them. But because the following concepts are based on behavior, not platform, you can apply them to any future social media development. If you start thinking along these lines regularly, you’ll learn to survive social media’s fast-paced evolution by evaluating new tools quickly to see how they can work to your advantage.
1) Always approach your social media initiatives with a goal in mind. If you want a Facebook page or a Twitter, do you have an answer if you ask yourself, “Why?” Are you wanting to increase sales? Increase your brand exposure and visibility? Become an expert? Drive traffic to your website? Each of these require a different strategy and tactic, and perhaps a different social media platform (or combination of platforms) for each. Define what you want out of social media before you do it.
2) If I have one mantra in everything PR or SM, it’s this: Social media — or any media for that matter — is about understanding user behavior to meet needs. Whether its porn or a movie schedule or looking up a recipe or researching new tires, people seek out the information contained in media to solve a problem or meet a need. So: How can you help your target consumer (current or potential) meet that need, and how does that particular consumer like to meet it? (studying behavior patterns for best SM platform choices).
3) One way is to be useful: businesses can offer info, tips or selective retweets about your field or industry in general on their tweets or Facebook page, for example. People will see that as an added value and you become trusted as a helpful source, because you’ve gone a long way to meet an information need around that product or field. Customers will be more apt to come to you because of that added value and expertise when they’re ready to buy.
It’s a much better experience for the consumer than if you’re just autotweeting latest sales and a store location every day.
4) Engage; listen; be attentive and consistent. Concentrate on building relationships with your consumers. Keep a consistent presence, no matter what the strategy or platform — no one likes a SM profile that isn’t regularly updated.
And don’t over worry about how many fans or followers you have; it’s not strictly a numbers game, despite how some people like to flaunt their number of fans or followers.
Be genuine, responsive and valuable to the ones you have, and they’ll help you grow.