Greg Smith

Greg Smith

In today’s world, it is essential that your company has a strong social media presence. Given that well over 90% of businesses utilize a variety of platforms to market their products or services, it’s essential to find the right strategy and a way to stand out from the competition.

First, it’s necessary to decide which social media networks will best reach your desired target audience. Using a social media platform which your customers don’t begin to understand or will never access, obviously won’t drive sales. For many, Facebook is the best place to start simply given the sheer volume of users (over a billion daily). Instagram and Pinterest are additional options.

Engaging with customers by creating an open-ended dialogue helps create organic conversations. Inform them about an industry related topic, share ideas and even ask for advice or allow them to share an opinion about your products and services. While it’s important to remain professional, you can also show your sense of humor and post a picture of your favorite four-legged friend. Make it real.

Interesting photos of what’s happening at your business (even a sneak preview or behind the scenes photos) are a great way to attract attention. It’s not always necessary to accompany the photo with text — a compelling photo just keeps that top of the mind awareness rolling. Find creative ways to demonstrate your expertise through “how-to” content — informative videos are a great way to accomplish this.

Be down to earth. It doesn’t always have to be about you — take advantage of national observance days to create interesting posts. These can be used to raise awareness or to simply have a little fun. And who doesn’t need a little levity these days? International Peach Pie Day, Polar Plunge Day, Festival of Sleep Day. You get the picture.

If customers are looking for a product or service you cannot provide, it’s a great opportunity to offer recommendations for other businesses — perhaps those with whom you shop personally. This helps build trust with your customers and will foster valuable business to business relationships.

Always be gracious. Take the time to show appreciation to your customers and remember that not everyone is going to love you. If someone has a complaint, acknowledge their concern and express how providing exceptional service is always your goal. Contact them offline to explore options to resolve the issue, and of course, if someone is being vulgar or socially inappropriate, the delete and block buttons are at your ready.

The bottom line is social media is an excellent, affordable and effective way to market and brand your business. Whether you undertake this yourself or employ the services of a professional, finding ways to set yourself apart from your competition and engage your clients to increase revenue is a key part of your continued growth.

Greg Smith is the director of the Eastern Oregon University Small Business Development Center, 1607 Gekeler Lane, Room 148 in La Grande. For free, confidential business advising, call 541-962-1532 or email eousbdc@gmail.com.

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