Small business secrets...

5 ways to put the ‘networking’ back into social networking

Posted by Anthony Karibian on Sep 11, 2013 3:56:51 PM

Social networks have grown in popularity as a way for friends to stay in contact and share information about their daily lives. Businesses often attempt to benefit from social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and Google+ too, but to really get the most out of it, it’s important to use it in the right way. The secret to success is in the name - social networking.

Too often, businesses get into a routine of posting about themselves (new products, pricing, offers etc.) and overlook the real purpose of social networking, which is to connect with other people. For businesses, this can be customers, prospects, and other companies.

Here are five ways to network effectively using social channels:

Tune in to what your customers want

Use the search function on Twitter and Google+ to look for phrases relevant to your industry. Often people will turn to social media to answer questions. If you are friendly and not too pushy you can answer these questions, using this as a sales tactic.

Also make sure you use the social networks’ built-in analytics tools to see which of your posts perform best. If you get the most engagement by posting images or asking questions, make sure you are publishing these types of posts most frequently.

Use social media as a real-time customer service tool

Often people don’t have the time to pick up the phone to ask a customer service question, they would rather fire off a quick tweet or Facebook message. Make sure you’re there to answer any customer service questions as quickly as possible. If potential customers don’t get an immediate answer they may take their business elsewhere.

It doesn’t need to be difficult, simply make sure you’re logged in to your social sites whenever you’re working on your computer, or set up mobile notifications so you can respond while you’re out and about.

Monitor your reputation

Customers don’t just like to use social media for asking questions, they also like to use it for complaints. It’s the quickest and most public way to do so, and they hope it will grab your attention. If you can respond to complaints quickly and fairly, your potential customers will see that you’ve done your best to resolve the issue. Don’t be tempted to delete the post, it will seem as though you’re embarrassed by the issue.

Don’t forget to search for mentions of your brand name on Twitter and Google+ to see what people have to say about your business.

Don’t be selfish

Unless you have incredible brand loyalty, it’s likely your customers aren’t interested in you - they’re only interested in what you can do for them. Our recent research found that 71% of people follow brands on social media to get offers. However, 63% also said they are interested in the content brands post, so try to share and retweet posts your customers may be interested in - even if it has nothing to do with your brand.

Take a little time to ‘like’, retweet and comment on your followers’ posts, and you will come across as friendly and approachable. When they need a service like yours, your brand name will be the first on their minds.

Keep your profiles up-to-date

Only set up social media accounts if you’re sure you’ll have time to interact with them every day. There is nothing more off-putting than a Twitter profile or Facebook page that was set up years ago and only had a couple of posts. To a potential customer, these zombie profiles give the impression the company has gone bust or, at best, is not up to date with technology.

Topics: CEO's blog

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