Social media is obviously prolific. With the major events happening this year, the pandemic, multiple elections, riots and major weather catastrophes, social media has been a source of news for many people around the globe. But how does this relate to small businesses? In this day and age do we need a website? Do we need a presence on every social media platform? Which one is best?
Here are very practical points to help you make some decisions.
- Play in your customer’s sandpit. If your customers use Facebook to find services then you should have a presence on Facebook. If they peruse Instagram for design ideas then you should be there too. Just as you might have advertised in a local paper or radio station you need to show your face, your brand, where your potential customers are.
- Fly your own flag. You’ve probably spent a bit of money or at least a lot of hours developing your own business identity. At least picking a great name but also colours, a logo, and a style that represents you and your future business. Social media platforms are designed to promote themselves or at least dominate all other brands. It’s mainly for this reason that you need your own website. Some platforms are doing a good job of making all your information available, like contact details, but they’re normally hidden and difficult for a customer to find. Your website will truly represent your business and it’s brand.
- Welcome your customer. Everyone enjoys the familiar, the sense of visiting a place where they don’t need to think too hard about what to do. This is why franchises do so well, even when they don’t have a great product. Their customers are familiar with the environment, they know the process and they know what they’re going to get. You should do the same with your online presence. Synchronise all your online locations so that your Facebook or Instagram and your website all have the same look and feel, based on your own branding. This is difficult on some platforms but it is still possible with content. For example, if you create a new service on your website, use the same imagery and description when you post this update to Facebook. Even before they’ve seen it, a customer should recognise your website if they’ve been directed to it from Facebook.
- Own your customer. One of the biggest challenges with social media is the relationship you have with your customers. Likes are good but followers are great because you can communicate with them. However, you’re really just posting to them, not actually communicating with them. Large businesses use a Customer Relationship Management tool to track customers and their relationships, be it a lead, engaged, transacted or a loyal customer. None of this is available with social media but it’s vital for you to at least respect this with your own customers. A website gives you more control over how you communicate and relate to your customers.
So as you continue to develop and grow your business, be aware of the opportunities and limits of online platforms as you work towards fostering the very best relationships with your customers.