When I started using Twitter and Facebook for my business in 2011, I would have never thought it could grow my business the way it did. But that year, I increased my cleaning company’s sales by 49 percent. Since then, I have continued to consistently grow my business through the use of social media and word-of-mouth marketing—and as a result, I’ve learned a few things along the way. These four tips can help you make the most of your social efforts, too.
Be Social, Not Sales-y
It’s easy, when you start on Twitter and Facebook, to want to blast out your sales pitch. But this isn't what the audience wants. Social media users don’t use these services to be sold to; they’re looking for genuine interactions with other humans. Sharing relevant information and knowledge can add value to the conversation—showcasing your expertise in the process—in a way that doesn’t feel invasive to casual or average users.
For my eco-friendly cleaning company, for example, I share cleaning tips. The result is a pretty steady stream of new client referrals from people who like the information I provide. I’ve earned their referrals by providing useful, free, valuable content.
Authenticity Can’t Be Scheduled
A large part of social media’s appeal is its immediacy. Your posts should be timely and as relevant to current trends and events as possible to ensure your brand is right there in the thick of the conversation.
To achieve this, I try to briefly review my accounts at least once an hour during the day. It helps keep the volume from stacking up and it allows me to interact with my customers in real time. I also find that people are often looking for a distraction during the day, so by sharing during that time, I maximize the number of times my content is re-shared.
Mind Your Manners
It’s important not to forget that for all your chummy followers, your conversations are still public. When you’re posting on behalf of your company, there is a real risk of damaging your brand if you take a controversial stand or mishandle an upset customer. Good-natured social interaction can be great for your business, but remember that social networks are not the only tool you have in your toolbox. Upset customers and problematic media coverage might be better handled offline.
I subscribe to the school of “not every thought needs to be posted.” Make sure you add value with every post.
Social Is Only One Strategy
Social media is about building relationships, not just posting one-sentence advertisements and expecting results. Meeting your followers and building the “real-life” part of the relationship is key to a successful marketing strategy. Reaching out to new contacts grows your network and promotes two-way visibility and communication.
Navigating social media can be overwhelming, but remember, it’s not all about being social. All major social networks provide analytics tools that can help you track your progress. Analyze what's working, and what's not, which will help you figure out how to grow.
In my own businesses, I've found that word-of-mouth referrals are the best source of new revenue with healthy margins. Social media allows me to grow my word-of-mouth network by increasing the number of followers, at no cost (other than time). And it helps me form deeper client relationships, which keeps my current customers coming back for more.
What are you doing to amplify word-of-mouth on social media? What's working for your business?
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Kyle Clayton is a serial entrepreneur, creating and operating a variety of local companies in Arizona, including Jackrabbit Janitorial, Awesome Cookie Company, Grey Area Consulting and SimpleHome USA. Kyle is also a member of the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs.