Small-to-medium businesses everywhere are struggling to understand how social networks can best be leveraged to sell. Some are striking marketing gold, but every business is different. Case studies on successful social media strategies only really serve as inspiration; it’s your job to find an innovative way to use your social media channels.
The first step is putting goals in place. How many Facebook fans and Twitter followers can you get in a month? In a quarter? In a year?
Now comes the strategy. Remember the golden rule: content leads to commerce. Sharing entertaining and informative content that applies to your industry is a great way to draw in followers. Think of your social media platforms as publishers. Your followers are looking for great content; when you syndicate that content using social media, you’re publishing your own magazine with shared and original content.
Promotions and discounts are great to share via Facebook and Twitter—but what about contests? When you make your audience take an active role in the development of your brand, you can gain lifelong followers. As an added bonus, contestants in a competition are more apt to share your brand with others. When they share their stories and generate their own content, they’ve done a lot of marketing work for you.
When you reach your goals and finally have your audience’s attention, gentle sales cues represent the next step. Pick a shopping cart that gives you the ability to set up a Facebook store. Make it easy for potential customers to find resources for buying through your store on your Facebook fan page.
While Twitter is a different sort of forum, many of the same rules apply. Use your Twitter and Facebook channels to open a dialogue with your customers. Listen to what they’re saying and respond. Social networks open conversations. The businesses that think of social networks as one-way channels to drop marketing on customers and potential customers are missing the point.
Establishing your brand is a crucial part of growing your business. While social networks offer fantastic resources for selling goods, businesses should be taking the same approach as individual users: use your networks to connect and open a dialogue. You may end up three steps ahead of the competition.