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Launching an online store is like putting Rubik’s cube together.
You cannot launch your website without having a beautiful copy and great images. Your potential customers won’t be able to find you until your website is optimized for SEO. You cannot expect your website visitors to buy from you if you don’t have a shopping cart and payment gateway configured. And finally, when you will have your first customers, you will have to be able to pack and ship your products.
Once your eCommerce machine is running smoothly, you can stop focusing on its engine and think about other opportunities to grow. One of the strategies helping you to grow your business is introducing your brand to the world of social media.
Currently, Facebook has almost 2 billion active users, Instagram - 600 million users and Twitter - 340 million users. For you, it means that social media give you the opportunity to introduce your brand to millions of potential customers!
There is just one problem: if you don’t know the social media etiquette, it might backfire on your brand.
Here's everything you need to know about how to take advantage of using social media in business.
Social media for business: yes or no?
To learn more about social media etiquette, I asked Mick Griffin, Chief Revenue Officer at Brand24, to tell me if he thinks that every company should open a social media channel.
According to Mick, it doesn’t matter if you’re a solopreneur, run a small business, or you’re a CEO of a big company. You have to be open to mainstream social media sites. And it’s not only about lead generation, it’s also about building trust.
Even the smallest businesses have to know that their potential customers are going to look online and see what they can find out about them first. So, it's really good to show them that even if you've got a hundred followers, or you have ten tweets from Twitter, it's really good to show them that you are in it for the long term, that they can trust you a little bit longer. Mainstream social media, I think it's a necessity now.
One of the most important things about social media is to understand that customers are now in control. Days of spending big budgets on newspaper advertisements, radio and TV are over. Now, the buyers have control, and you have to go wherever they are.
In the past, the only option to market or target our audience was to guess. Entrepreneurs and ad agencies spent money on TV shows that had good ratings at 8 p.m., hoping that a particular demographic watched that type of TV show.
Now, with social media, we've got much more data, and we can segment our audience. For example, we can publish an advertisement addressed to 38-42-year-olds that earn a particular amount of income, which live in a particular geographic location and like a particular page.
To target just the group of people that really may want your product is a great opportunity. According to Mike, “you can go out and find them in their natural habitat. It's almost like going on safari.”
So if you’re wondering if it’s the right time to open your brand account on social media, then probably it's just the time to do that.
Here’s how to choose the right channel for your needs and industry: A Guide to the Most Popular Social Media Sites.
Social media etiquette
Lots of companies start to post or make campaigns with thousands of people in mind. The problem is, when you try to make a message that is valuable for thousands of people, you end up with a campaign that is not valuable for anybody.
Same thing goes with companies that want to post something viral badly, hoping that they can repeat the success of social media’s biggest players (and end up posting horrible viral wannabes).
The first rule of social media: be honest and authentic
You should never chase a viral situation, because consumers and social media users have a good radar for companies who are trying to trick or manipulate them. The campaigns that go viral are the ones that seem most authentic. Viral campaigns have to be honest and seem to be exactly how a company functions.
For example, you can't be a big oil company and try to do a funny comedy about oil (or cats!), because people don't find oil as a topic that’s funny. An oil company might go viral when they do a campaign about how they're trying to fund renewable energy or a project where they've had success trying to clean the environment.
You've got to understand your audience and not try to force it, not try to be something that you're not.
Here’s more about Twitter etiquette: Don’t Buy Twitter Followers.
The second rule of social media: don't be afraid of negative feedback
The problem with social media is that it makes you vulnerable. Your customers are in control and can make the experience with your brand visible for others. Once they had a bad experience, they can post it on your website or tag you, so it’s visible for others.
In the past, the worst thing that could happen was a bad word of mouth. Now, even the smallest consumer who spent the smallest amount of money with your company can have a big voice.
According to Mike, we should be aware of every single negative comment on social media and take action. Why? The reason is simple.
The Economist reported that 88% of people now check online before they make a purchase. That means if someone is walking down the street and they pass a restaurant, and they think "oh that looks nice" before they go in the door, 88% of them will google that restaurant or will check that restaurant's Twitter, or Facebook profile.
These statistics may sound scary, but it’s just how social media works and we should start to treat every comment, even the negative one, as an opportunity to learn more about our customers and turn complaints into compliments.
Don’t believe it’s possible? Here’s the example.
Some time ago, Ryanair’s social media policy was not to respond to any negative activity. The reason behind that decision was that since Ryanair was offering cheap solutions and they didn’t have huge competition on the market, they didn’t want to spend their resources on social media. As a result, they ended up with 80% of negative opinions about their brand.
Around 18 months ago, Ryanair decided to start responding to these comments and almost immediately it turned out that 80% turned into 50%, and eventually they ended up with having 50% negative and 50% positive comments.
How’s that possible, you might ask.
What happened was that the number of complaints didn’t decrease. Ryanair didn’t change their service or products. What has changed was the fact that when their customers were complaining, this time someone actually responded.
Before, when their customers were complaining about their bad experience, they didn’t even receive a response to their tweets with brief apologies.
Today, if you look at Ryanair and how they do social media, they're just saying: “I'm sorry you had that experience, here is the best channel to try to solve it”. They're stopping those conversations from continuing, and consumers are happy that they've been acknowledged.
It means that addressing customers problems on social media can have a huge impact on our brand’s image. As long as you show your customers that you care about them, that you’re interested in solving their problems, you might change a bad experience into a good one.
Here’s more about How to Handle Negative Comments on Social Media Like a Pro.
Find your customers in their natural habitat
Taking care of social media is not a piece of cake.
If you open a social media channel, you have to remember that you must take the responsibility for this channel. Once your customers start to post comments or asking questions about your brand, you have to react promptly.
To make your life a bit easier, you can come up with the idea of posting three times a week, respond to every comment and stick to this plan. Apart from that, you should make sure that you sound like a human and engage with people who talk to you. Also, if your system suddenly goes offline or your product has problems with delivery, you have to be ready to answer everybody's questions.
The good thing is that by giving your brand human voice, finding the right audience and being able to engage them, you’ll gain credibility, trust, and loyalty of your customers.
Once you manage to tame the social media beast, you are one step closer to having your ecommerce Rubik’s cube put together.