Social Media: Is it Worth It for my Business?

Running a business is hard at the best of times having to not only have a handle on what’s happening in all aspects of the business but often also having to carry out all the different tasks that need completing.

To add yet another job to the list might not seem like the best idea or even worth it. Still, social media can be a great tool that not only helps you in the short term but also helps build the business over time and support the resilience of your company in dealing with shocks to the economy.

We all do it, head to the internet when we are looking to buy the latest gadget or even find a shop or hairdresser near us. Customers increasingly make buying decisions based on who they can find easily and the presence they have online.

Is the information I need easy to find? Is the company open? Do they sell what I need? Do they look credible? Do they have good reviews?

These are all questions that people ask themselves, often within a matter of seconds, when they search online and making sure your business both answers those questions and stands out from the crowd can often make the difference between winning and retaining customers or not.

Social media can help your business to:

Build brand awareness

An increasing number of people use social media, to keep up with the day’s events, interact with friends, family and co-workers or to shop. Having a strong brand online means you are more likely to be in the mix when those all-important potential customers are shopping around.

And, just because you are interacting online and not face to face doesn’t mean you can’t use social media to inject your personality into your messaging.

Through a few well-targeted words, messages or images, you can humanise your brand and interact with customers in an appealing way that encourages them to want to engage with your brand.

Regular, multi-platform messaging can also raise your profile to the extent that you become the go-to place for people to head when they are making their decisions.

And, once you have started to use social media and to interact with your marketplace, it can also help you to measure what people think of your brand.

This helps you to pick up on any changes you need to make in your messaging, products and services or how you interact with your customers.

Generate Business

Whether sourcing new business or looking to expand current levels, social media can help.

You may be running a small shop, butchers, bakers, gardening centre or mobile hairdressers in a village or town. Look to see if there is a village Facebook group or similar that you can post to.

You may not be looking to sell through these platforms, but you get your name out there, so people know you are there when they are looking to buy.

Social media is also great at promoting key messages to your customers and marketplace and linking to other sources of information you want people to know.

Maybe you want to use social media posts to drive increased traffic to your website or online shop using it as a ‘call to action’ so that customers know where to go.

Or, maybe you have a new product or service available you want people to know about quickly and cost-effectively. Social media can help you get it out to your marketplace quickly.

It can also help you to see what your competition is up to and their success in engaging customers.

Follow their social feeds, see what they are posting and how people are reacting. It may give you some ideas on how to improve what you are doing or even what hasn’t worked or has had a negative response, so you don’t make the same mistakes.

Provide customer support

You may not be able to anticipate all of the questions your customers may have about your product or service or the problems they may have in the future. However, giving them an easy way of getting support when things go wrong helps to improve your image and build levels of goodwill for when things may go wrong in the future.

Social media provides customers with a direct link to you when they need help and support and offers you a direct link to them and so yet another way of gathering valuable information, data and also the opportunity to gain further sales now and in the future.

Beware though as it can cause problems if you aren’t quick off the mark as further delays can damage your reputation and lead to customers leaving poor online reviews.

If you are going to offer online support, make sure you are clear on timescales for contact and what customers can access online rather than face to face. Set their expectations right and you can always meet, if not exceed them.

Communicate in times of crisis

Social media helps to get messages out quickly in a time of crisis. Maybe you run a shop by yourself, but a family emergency means you can’t open or have to open late that day. Perhaps there has been an electrical blackout, that means you can only accept cash payments.

There could be many reasons why you need to get your message out to as many people as you can, as quickly as you can, and social media can help you to do this.

It can also be a great way of quickly changing your business model to ensure you can keep trading.

If the customers can’t come to you, maybe you can go to your customers. They could send in orders through social media or ask them to phone in an order, and you could do local deliveries or send through the post or by courier.

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