There’s no denying that the current climate has encouraged business owners to use online marketing more and jump on the social media channels in order to stay up to date with customers. And if you’ve been one for holding back and not wanting to be online, are you able to keep up with the other businesses who are online?
The way forward is digital. The way for brands to reach out is through digital and online marketing. Social media has been and is going to continue to play a big part in business growth, providing stability to consumers and giving value at every opportunity. How can you embrace online marketing as a business owner?
Why is it important to have an online presence now?
What’s the first thing you do when you need to buy something, seek advice, research a product? You go online. You jump onto Google (or your favourite search engine) and type in the relevant words you’re looking for and results appear. Bingo!
Your customers and potential customers are doing the exact same thing when it comes to looking for your product or service. They are looking for “xxx near me” or “xyz in my area”. If you’re not online, you do not even stand a chance of being in line for that customer.
You need to be in it to win it!
Your competition is online, even if you are not.
This is the same for anything, for something to happen, you need to put yourself in the right place to start with. Give your business a head start and place it somewhere where it can be seen.
Build reputation and trust online
A key reason for being online, is to build trust, loyalty and showcase expertise where it’s needed. You can be there to help solve problems, give insight or advice, sharing your knowledge with people around you and in return building a great reputation for being a business that cares about others.
Being able to offer an outstanding customer service is also part of the package. How much quicker can you respond to a query or concern online. Giving people a place to find you, contact you and speak to you at the touch of a button.
Word of mouth marketing
We’ve spoken to a few business owners recently who still do not have an online presence (hence the reason for this post!), or they have ‘something’ out there but are not sure on how to use it effectively. Word of mouth is great and we’re not denying the power that it can have as a marketing tool but there is so much more potential out there when you make your business available. How big if your word of mouth circle? There are limits to word of mouth. How much more impact could be gained from your word of mouth customers to give you a review online and to recommend you via social media channels that can be seen by hundreds, if not thousands of other potential customers!
Where to start with online marketing
This can be a good question and very valid for anyone not used to being exposed to the open doors of all things digital.
For small business owners, you may have an email contact for your current clients. Why not ask them if they mind being put onto a mailing list? Your first point of call could be to send out a regular newsletter of either things that have been happening / recent projects etc, or to provide offers and latest information. You email list is extremely valuable. The bigger list you can build, the more people you can potentially speak to. It’s far quicker to send out a weekly or monthly newsletter, than to ring round a whole client base asking if they need anything. (be sure to follow GDPR protocols and get the permission of the email holder first)
Google My Business
For the people who are searching for local businesses or services, Google My Business is a great free resource that any business owner can utilise very easily. Simply search Google My Business in your search engine and follow the steps to get set up.
When you search for a business online, you will often be presented with a right hand column of information about that business. It will include website and contact details, opening hours, business information and much more. This can include client reviews or photos too. A perfect opportunity to give an insight into a business, and it’s free!
Facebook Business Page
Depending on what type of business you have, the next step could be setting up a Facebook Business page. This is also very simple to do, just make sure you have a personal profile set up first in order to get started.
Again, depending on your business, how many people are surfing Facebook and could potentially come across your business or service? How many of your current customers are on Facebook and would give you a recommendation or review? Facebook is still the most used social media platform worldwide and gives massive potential to reaching out to a wider audience. If you do not have a website, a Facebook Page could be the first impression a person gets of your business. Creating content around recent projects, live or up to date information, posting behind the scenes images and telling the story behind the brand… all these things make up positive influences towards building a business and growing your audience.
Facebook might not be the place for you, other social media channels might be relevant to your audience – how do you know which channel to choose? Research your audience, find out where they are spending their time, where they are most likely to be interested in seeing your presence and engage with you, and build a presence on that platform. Check out our post on What’s the difference between the social media platforms for more information.
Brand awareness is important however you decide create it, in order to keep a business alive, relevant and up to date.
Having an online presence in this digital age offers cheap and affordable marketing, an easy way to stay in tune and in touch with customers and raise a brand profile in the process.
With careful planning, goal setting and strategy, online marketing is a necessity to keep up with the competition and to create a growing and thriving business.
If you’re just starting out online or with social media marketing, always create a plan of action and know what you’re looking to achieve through being online. If you’d like to talk through strategy and marketing plans, we’d love to chat with you. Get in touch today and let’s start a conversation.
In the meantime, if you’d like to go it alone and would like a check list to ensure that you don’t miss the basics, why not download our FREE social media checklist to get started. Embrace social media, embrace the digital space and allow your business to have an impact!
Are you struggling to find momentum with your social media marketing during the coronavirus lockdown? You are not alone and there are many businesses who are facing difficulties when it comes to knowing what to post, how to post and when to post on their social channels.
However, there are some rules you can follow if you find yourself in this position, here’s our tips to help in your social media content:
Stay true to brand
No matter what happens, it’s important to stay true to your brand. Going off topic or trying to fill posting slots with irrelevant content will not only change the direction of your business but give people who have been loyal followers a chance to become bored or dismayed with your content. You can use this time to show behind the scenes posts or give inspiration to your audience, bearing in mind what your audience is used to and expects – just be honest and up front with everything.
You’ve built a brand that stands on its values – your beliefs and thought process haven’t changed, it’s just the way we do things that might change. So, use your core values to shine through, allow your values to be your strength, show your followers that you’re still providing the same value as ever and are there to help or aid in anyway they need you to.
If you’re struggling in any way with your business in these uncertain times, keep an account and tell your story of how it’s unfolding, what you’re doing and what your customers mean to your brand, through your social channels so your followers can stay up to date with everything.
Takeaway – stay on brand and tell your story along the journey
What to post on social media?
You may not be able to produce the same level of content or provide in-house photos and stories for your audience but that doesn’t mean you don’t have anything to say. If you’re a customer facing business, give them interactive content, ask them what they’re doing – show them what you’re doing, what would they like to hear from you, share behind the scenes stories from your own home. Get your community talking and engaging together.
There’s nothing stopping you getting a little creative in your content too – brighten things up or show a different side to your business. People like variety – what could you provide to make your audience smile, appreciate you, be motivated or simply something to think over?
If you’re been in a rut with social media in the past, here’s an opportunity to revitalise your content and provide something fresh and inspiring.
Take a look at other businesses similar to yours and see what people are engaging with – how can you adapt that for your business? We don’t suggest that you copy, but there’s no harm in finding ideas and inspiration from others.
And don’t forget to actually get social – it’s in the name and it’s an important part of keeping people engaged with everything you have to say. Try not to sell, sell, sell, but provide value and communication through your channels.
Takeaway – think ‘audience’ and give them content they will enjoy
How to post on social channels
Not being able to meet customers face to face is a struggle for many businesses at this time, but there are work arounds and people are more understanding than you may think, so just be honest. If you’re used to meeting a customer to discuss details, quotes, specifics, you have the options of emails, phone calls or video chats. Providing ‘video discovery calls’ instead of a normal phone call gives the customer the opportunity to still see you and break down the barriers that may appear if they were unable to see you. The video chat option is a positive step and can provide a better customer experience and introduction to your business.
If you’re used to holding meetings or functions, you have the option of online meetings and webinars. Zoom has become a popular use of online meetings as well as Google Hangouts and such apps. If you’re not ready to do a ‘live’ meeting, you have the option of recording a video and posting as a premier on either a Facebook Page or YouTube channel. This gives the option for people to watch and chat ‘live’ with the video.
Takeaway – use whatever function you feel comfortable with to reach your audience
When to post on social media
This shouldn’t change to the usual content schedule that you already have in place but maybe you might need to mix it up a little or adapt the times that you’re posting as people are online at different times of day at the moment.
Do you have a content plan / strategy document? If not, we’d love to help! But first things first, create a content plan that maps out what you want to say, and then when you want to say it. Do a little research into when you audience is most online an active on their social media channels. When are they interacting the most? That’s when you want to target your posts. And don’t forget that you can schedule your posts in advance so you’re not rushing trying to get all content done every day. There are great scheduling tools out there, and if you’re a small business and do not have the budget to pay for a paid for solution, there are still some great resources for you to use. Hootsuite allows you to have three profiles before you need to upgrade to a paid plan. This means that if you’re using Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram, you can schedule in advance for all three platforms without the hassle of daily posting or paying for the pleasure.
Other options include Buffer / Tailwind / TweetDeck / SocialOomph – and much are down to personal preference and what you’re looking for in a scheduling tool. The best thing to do is have a go with each and see which you prefer!
Takeaway – listen to your audience and work with them on their time schedules
While we’re staying at home and are minimalising the times we go outside, inspiration has to come from somewhere – and often the best inspiration comes right when we’re not expecting it. Sit out in the garden and enjoy the spring weather, you’re surrounded by colours, birds, flowers – what can you gain from that? Can you use that inspiration in your social content?
Reading a book or watching a TV program; does it give you an idea to write a blog post or newsletter?
In these times we adapt to what’s around us and find new inspiration from these surroundings. It’s about finding new ideas, and things that our audience too would like. It doesn’t hurt to give new ideas a try – we learn by trial and error – and if your audience latches on, ever better – you’ve found yourself some new content areas.
Understand your audience and find out what they want to hear, what they want to know and how you can better serve and help them. We’re all in this together, everyone is in the same boat and as time goes on, your customers will appreciate the honesty and integrity that you show through this lockdown period.
However you approach your social media marketing at this time of uncertainty and crisis, we encourage you to seek out your audience, listen to their pain points, what they want to hear and see – and provide value in all that you give them. If you’re not sure how to work a marketing strategy or would like to dig deeper into reaching your audience, talk to us, we’d love to help.
Why not download our FREE social media checklist to ensure you don’t forget the basics and cross every tick box as you go – it’s our gift to you.