You can certainly make social media serve your business but you perpetually need to keep this in mind that basically social media is for social interaction and it cannot be used to merely promote your business. You need to create a social presence and once you have created that presence you can let people know what is your business and whether you would like to serve them or not.
Nonetheless every serious business these days has a social media presence and so should you. This is because more and more people are spending most of their time interacting on social media and social networking websites. They no longer check e-mails and their visits to various blogs and websites and online forums are dwindling too. On the other hand traffic on social media websites like Twitter and Facebook is increasing in leaps and bounds. Since you have to be where your target market is, without intruding upon people’s need to interact socially, you need to figure out how to make social media generate new business for you.
You need to be social on social media
It is very important that you create a vibrant social media presence before you can even think of talking about your business. Know people and let them know you. Let them be familiar with your presence. Be useful to them. Primarily there are two reasons people spend time on social media websites: to interact with their friends, family and colleagues and to get timely information on their preferred topics. This is what you need to provide and you need to provide it on an ongoing basis.
Remain focused on your core subject
Remianing focused on your core subject gives you two advantages: people searching on social media websites for topics relevant to your business can easily find your updates and consequently go to your website, and your friends and followers know exactly what type of updates you post and hence pay more attention to what you have to say. This way it also becomes easier for those who want to follow you: they know exactly why they are following you.
Keep people engaged and participate in conversations
Simply posting updates multiple times a day won’t help you get attention, you need to engage your friends and followers by continuously talking to them and having conversations with them. Having 1-1 interactions is often not possible if you have 1000s friends and followers (if that is the case anyway you need a dedicated person to manage your social media presence for your business), but if you have fewer and manageable followers and friends try to have as many conversations with them as possible. You will need to maintain a balance. Observe what is going on and pay attention to what people are talking about and then whenever you think you have something valuable to add, pitch in. Suppose somebody is looking for an answer that you have; provide that answer directly to the person.
As a business you can engage your friends through your Facebook fan page by organizing events, activities and contests on a regular basis.
Be a human not just a business
Again, social media is all about being social so you need to be a person on social media. Share your personal experiences and opinions now and then. It doesn’t hurt if occasionally you post some light-hearted photographs of yours or your office. If you recently had an office party it will be using to post some pics on your Facebook account, for instance. Just make sure you know where to draw the line.
Measure your social media engagement
Of course if you want social media to serve your business you need to measure and track your activities. You need to know how many people actually click the links you post. You need to find out how many people actually visit your website when you post links to it on Twitter and Facebook accounts. If you ask a question many people respond positively, negatively or do they remain neutral. There are many tools available on the Internet that can help you manage, track and measure your social media engagement.
Respond promptly when somebody has an issue
There is no use having a social media presence for your business if it takes 2-3 days for a response to appear on your timeline when somebody has an issue with your product or service. The response must be there within a couple of hours if not within a few minutes. This is because people have very active timelines on social media and soon they lose track of what they had asked for unless the problem is very pressing. If they don’t receive an answer from you within a few hours they are going to assume that you don’t answer.
Have branded social media presence
It pays to have a blended Twitter profile page and a Facebook fan page where people can easily recognize your business and brand. If you have a logo or a header, use it on your Twitter profile page and your Facebook fan page.
Social media is a great tool to promote your business provided you can strike up a balance between social activities and business promotion. People on social media want to interact and they want to be informed. They are looking for information they can use. Direct marketing/push marketing doesn’t work on social media because nothing is on autopilot.