(Published in the Sunday Star Times, March 22, 2015)
A few years ago, businesses were discouraging employees from using and accessing Facebook at work – now most businesses have their own account and urge their team to regularly update it. Facebook and other social media (Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat) have become part of the standard marketing plan now, with businesses realising that they’re great channels to get across the right message, at the right time, to the right people (the holy trinity for all marketers). Most of us know that social media is a good way to connect with customers and clients – but we can be at a bit of a loss with how to go about it. Facebook in particular can be daunting for small businesses. What to post? When to post? Who should look after it? Should my business be on all channels or will just one do? And – most importantly – how can I use it to make more sales?
For help negotiating the social media minefield, I spoke to Business Changing client Wendy Thompson, managing director of Socialites. Wendy is a guru at this stuff and looks after the social media accounts of many New Zealand businesses, including Charlie’s, Mitre 10, Spark and Rekorderlig Cider.
Wendy’s view on when you should post? Only when you have “thumb-stopping content” ie something good enough to make the thumbs of your fans stop scrolling down the Facebook newsfeed on their phone. Don’t worry about the time of day or how many times a week you should post, Wendy says. There is so much content out there: over 1.3 million Facebook posts, 350,000 tweets and 100 hours of YouTube are uploaded every minute. To combat that, social media platforms have adjusted their algorithms to reward quality. So think quality over quantity: it is better to post something awesome twice a week that is targeted to the correct group of customers than spam everyone 20 times, Wendy advises. If you don’t really have anything to say, don’t say it.
But what is good content? Posts that engage your customers, that are relevant and either useful or entertaining to your followers. Before you post, think about how a customer would react if you told them about what you plan to post. Would they be interested? Enthused? Would it start a conversation? Or would they merely nod their head and smile politely? If so, don’t post. Think “thumb-stopping content”.
Wendy’s insider tip to get better traction on Facebook: use video. It seems to be getting preference on the newsfeed right now.
Who looks after the social media accounts in your business? You or your junior? Social media often falls to the bottom of our to-do list (or right off it) or it gets palmed off to the intern or most junior member of the team because they grew up using it and seem to know a bit about selfies! This is a common mistake, says Wendy.
As well as coming up with quality content, you need to remember that social media accounts and what you put on them are a direct reflection of your company and brand. And that responsibility shouldn’t lie with the youngest member of your team.
“It’s important to keep in mind that social media is the one area of marketing where you are engaging in a genuine and immediate two-way relationship with your customer. In a very public place,” Wendy reiterates. “Social media needs to be taken seriously. You need someone senior who understands the business, your brand values and, most importantly, your customers in order to create posts that resonate and engage your followers.”
So, how can you tell if the time and effort you’ve spent on your social media has been worth it? In next week’s column we’ll talk about how you can create more direct sales conversions, track your results and get better ROI.