In the olden days – you know, before Facebook – the success of a marketing campaign was often simply a measure of how much money you had to spend. After all, we know that if you repeat something often enough, then people will believe it.
My, how times have changed.
People consume information so differently now, that the weight of a single television commercial or magazine ad is often diluted by all of the impressions that we get from other forms of media, and that’s a huge opportunity for small businesses. You can build your brand without investing tons of money, if you’re willing to invest a little time. Consumers are looking for a genuine connection and a way to interact with a company, and you can give them what they want by using social media.
There are lots of serious minded folks who dismiss Facebook and Twitter as frivolous fads – wasters of time and energy. What those folks don’t know is that their company is most likely already being discussed on social media. Whether you run a restaurant or a carpet cleaning service, chances are good that there are online reviews of your business. If that doesn’t scare you, it should. The conversation is happening. The only question is whether you want to participate and start to shape that conversation into one that presents your company in its best light.
Responding to reviews on Yelp or Trip Advisor is a great opportunity to thank happy patrons for their business, and it’s also a chance for you to see what your customers didn’t like about their experience. If it’s appropriate, a public acknowledgement of their complaint and a promise to make it right shows that you value your customers and are invested in providing excellent service.
Social media also gives you a chance to invite prospective customers in for a virtual visit. You can post pictures of your daily special at the restaurant, or you can write a quick blog post about why you’ve chosen a particular brand of environmentally safe cleaners for use in your customers’ homes. You can run silly little contests on your Facebook page, inviting folks to provide suggestions for your newest drink creation or offering a freebie for the 1000th person who likes your Facebook page. The idea is to get your customers involved on your social media platforms. Invite them to share pictures of your business on Instagram, and make sure you monitor all of the possible sites that might have reviews of your business. It’s possible that you’ll luck into some great, unsolicited free advertising, but if you carefully cultivate your social media presence, you’ll end up interacting with far more consumers.
Your company’s reputation depends on your relationship with your customers, and you can manage that relationship – in part, anyway – by using the free social media tools available to you. Whether you’re in love with Facebook or not, you’re missing out if you don’t acknowledge the powerful opportunities that it provides you.