If you are a more seasoned social media user—you already have a profile on sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn—you may be looking for new strategies to engage customers. Here are a few ideas that could help step up your game.
Social networks like Facebook (www.facebook.com), LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com) and Twitter (www.twitter.com) shouldn’t be used to make a hard sell. Rather, build credibility and a network of contacts, says Ross Kimbarovsky, social media marketer and co-founder of crowdSPRING, a website that connects small businesses with designers, website builders and copy writers. Join groups relevant to your industry and add real-life friends and customers as contacts on your social network.
Then, post about things that are relevant and valuable to current or potential customers, like local events, industry trends and news related to your business. For instance, a local auto mechanic might post about recalls on vehicles or about the financial stability of U.S. automakers.
Only one out of every 15 to 20 updates should be a soft-sell, otherwise you could be considered a spammer. Post news-like items or promotions to friends and followers. For instance, if you have a new product in, post something like, “Got the first delivery of the new Nike Airs in today. They’re already a big hit with my running clientele.”
Don’t worry about the number of contacts you have. Ten loyal customers are better than a thousand noncommittal followers on Twitter. “Focus on building strong advocates—people who like what you’re talking about and who are eager to talk about you,” says Kimbarovsky.
Multimedia platforms like YouTube (www.youtube.com) and Flickr (www.flickr.com) don’t work for every business and can be more challenging to populate because videos and photos take longer to produce. Up for the challenge? Upload short tutorial videos to YouTube demonstrating your expert knowledge. Use Google’s keyword tool to determine what keywords will get your video the most views; include those keywords in the title of the video and in the video description.
John Tuggle, author of several books about learning to play the guitar, began expanding his business by using YouTube. He recorded several short tutorials on playing the guitar and uploaded the videos to YouTube, making sure that his URL, LearningGuitarNow.com, was in the description of the video and on screen as people watched his video. His tutorial videos are passed around on several websites now, but because his URL is on screen, he still gets the credit. Today, 1,500 people per month visit his website via YouTube.
Be careful not to make a hard sell on Flickr—it could get you kicked off the site. Rather, start a photo competition for your customers and post the photos to your Flickr photostream.Those in businesses with natural images, such as florists, restaurants and interior designers could post photos of their work to Flickr. Artists may use it as a portfolio for potential customers.
When you create content, like videos or photos, Kimbarovsky suggests you use the content on as many social media sites as possible. For instance, when you upload a video to YouTube, tweet about it. Then upload the video to your Facebook profile and publish a post about it.