It’s all too easy to create a Facebook page, start Tweeting or follow lots of people and assume that your occasional input (after the initial excited flurry) will have customers queuing at your door, but that approach could cause more trouble than it is worth.
Social media is an increasingly important additional channel for engaging with existing or potential customers and influencing their opinions and behaviours. However before getting started you must learn the rules of engagement and, unfortunately for you, the consumers set the rules, not you. This means you need to fit in with their way of doing things.
To be effective, social media must be an integral part of your overall business and marketing strategy. It can connect you with a broad audience of influencers and consumers, and can help you attract, convert and retain customers by driving traffic to your website, generating sales leads, creating brand awareness and developing loyal advocates. This can all be achieved at a relatively low cost, but only if you plan carefully and go about it in the right way:
Listen – Learn what is being said about you, your brand, or your manufacturer brands in the online world – good and bad. Who are the influential voices out there (positive and negative)?
Engage – carefully build relationships with your extended network, getting close to influencers as they will cascade your message through their many followers.
Refine – Monitor how effective you are in getting your message across, listen to what is being said and think on how you can capitalise on the emerging trends by fine tuning your activities. Above all, participate on a regular basis, be consistent, honest and trustworthy in how you engage in the social world – get it right and the influencers can ensure thousands might see your message and respond – get it wrong, and those same thousands will tell the world within hours.