If you're on the fence about participating in social media for business purposes, you may be missing out on many potential benefits. While social media can come with some drawbacks, such as subjecting yourself and your company to potential scrutiny, it can also be a forum for open discussion with prospects who want to learn more about your business' products and services.
Take advantage of a strong social media business presence:
- Establish yourself as an industry expert
By posting and sharing interesting and relevant content, you'll begin to gain authority and position yourself and your busness as a subject matter expert. Keep in mind, this doesn't happen overnight. It takes time and effort, but if you consistently provide your network with valuable content, they will eventually come to trust you and the information you provide as pertinent and beneficial.
- Gain a plethora of information about clients and prospects
People reveal more about themselves via social networks than they do upon initially meeting them. With a quick browse of their profile, you can learn their likes, dislikes, and interests. This is valuable information to utilize with your clients and prospects to build rapport and deeper relationships. For example, if you discover via social media that one of you prospects is an avid fisherman, you now have a great way to break the ice with them during your first business meeting! Plus, looking for social signals like a new life event gives you invaluable insight for selling opportunities.
- Engage your audience with two-way conversations
One of the great things about social media is the capability it offers to conduct two-way conversations with your audience, as opposed to just talking "at" them through traditional media. Social media provides insightful market research measured by the number of likes, retweets, shares, and comments your posts receive. You get direct feedback from your audience and can engage them in meaningful conversations.
- Provide an additional customer service channel
Social media allows you to take your customer service to the next level by responding to customer questions and complaints quickly and directly. For example, if a customer has a problem with your product and voices their concern on your Facebook page, you now have the opportunity to reach out to them, research their concern, and find a solution that solves their problem—giving you the power to turn a dissatisfied customer into a happy one. Whether the appropriate course of action is replacing the product, offering a refund, or authorizing a store credit, you turned a negative interaction into a positive one through a public channel, where other customers and prospects have the opportunity to see how well you treat your customers.
- Expand your reach
We've all heard the motto, "work smarter, not harder." This applies to building your network as well. With social media, you can build a vast network with only a few clicks – expanding your reach efficiently. Take for example the local seller of handmade jewelry. A Pinterest account gives them the opportunity to showcase their work and garner interest across countless computer and mobile screens throughout the country, or even the world, depending on how many people "pin" their images. Imagine what the capital investment would be to get that same number of impressions through traditional media such as print or television ads. The possibilites are endless, and the potential for thousands of marketing dollars to be saved make social media an extremely attractive marketing option.
It can seem overwhelming and time consuming to manage a business social media presence, but with a little effort and some careful planning, you can reap many professional benefits.
Have you taken the plunge and started building a business social media presence? Share a success story with us in the comments below!