How to use social media to attract consumers

Reaching consumers via social mediaIf you sell to the public, there is a very good chance that many of your customers and prospective customers are networking and buying online. Online social media offer a low-cost way to reach and influence a wide customer base. So how do you reach them?

1.     Identify which social media platforms your target customers are using and use those too. Are there more customers to be found on Twitter, Facebook or on specialist blogs and forums?

2.     Research the social media your customers are using. How do other businesses use them? Make a note of what works and what doesn’t.

3.     Devise a strategy for using social media in your business. Set measurable and realistic objectives and goals for your marketing, and look for ways to blend your social media marketing with more traditional methods.

4.     Create a profile on your chosen platform/s, including brief, essential details about who you are and what you do, and a link to your website.

5.     Engage potential customers by stressing what you can do for them.

6.     Apply your branding guidelines to your profiles to maintain consistency and establish your visual identity quickly.

7.     Use a tone that is appropriate to the platform. Social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter are snappy and informal, so you can afford to be light-hearted at times.

8.     Make a fan page the hub of your online community if using Facebook. If using Twitter, monitor mentions of your business, product or service to track potential followers. If you participate in forums, always provide a link to your website, your fan page, your blog or your Twitter account.

9.     Listen and respond to feedback, and offer help and advice — don’t simply broadcast sales messages; have conversations with your customers.

10.  Inform your audience about your sector and link to other sources of information, such as news stories, videos and podcasts. Share your knowledge.

11.  Use relevant keywords about your sector, product or service frequently in your social media marketing. These will be picked up by search engines and make it easier for potential customers to discover you.

12.  Run competitions via social media and offer exclusive online deals to your fans and followers. These will help to generate word-of-mouth advertising — the most powerful form of social media currency.

13.  Be active on your chosen platform/s. Update your profile and check your messages regularly. Show your audience that you are engaged. You can also advertise. Facebook ads allow you to segment your advertising into the key demographics of ASL (age, sex, location).

14.  Measure your progress against your objectives. Both Facebook and Twitter, for example, have tools that will tell you how you are doing. If you are not meeting your objectives, find out how you can change your approach.

Cardinal Rules

Do:

  • consider where your target audience congregates online
  • have a presence on relevant social media platforms
  • make sure your profile is up-to-date and communicates the essential details
  • engage with potential new customers

Don’t:

  • expect instantaneous results
  • substitute existing practices for social media — incorporate them
  • use social media to push sales messages

For more information relating to social media, see the Resources box on the right.