Imagine if you were an entrepreneur in the late 1980s, or even 10 years ago. It may be hard to believe, but at that time — and in all other eras of business history except now — social media didn’t exist. You relied on word of mouth, paid advertising, and old-fashioned grunt work to get the message out about your business.
All of that is still necessary — any savvy entrepreneur knows you should not rely on social media alone to promote your business. Despite its pervasive reach, social media still only reaches a limited and largely distracted audience. For that reason, you have to take care with your social media promotion. Unfortunately, you can’t flood your account with random tweets and sell huge volumes of product.
Take heed of these tips as you’re getting started on social media, and keep your eyes on the response you get from new and existing customers.
If you have a launch date, you want to get going on your social media well before. Social media expert Amy Vernon told Fast Company you should start populating your feeds with industry information. The objective is to build up a solid following and to set yourself up as a trustworthy source of knowledge. If you plan to sell local fruits, share articles about the benefits of buying neighborhood food or how adding fruit to your diet improves health.
When you get going, you should seek the recognition of local influencers who can spread the word about your brand. But before you hit up a local food blogger for a retweet or an article mention, you should promote that blogger’s work on your social media feed. Social media is largely about relationships, and as soon as you can start a give and take with important people in your industry, the better.
Entrepreneur recommends that you establish a brand identity through your social media feed. That brand is not diluted if you stay focused on your core business. If you sell local fruits, remain focused on local farms and fruits. Do not be tempted to stray into broader areas of posts about general health, vegetables, local businesses, or anything else that is not directly on-brand.
Don’t Sell All The Time
Ask yourself how often you stop on an ad in your social media feed. Chances are, it’s not very often. But you probably follow many companies on social media who provide you with quality content. Provide that quality content so people will want to follow you and share your posts. If you sell local fruits, post a weekly recipe using something you sell. Vernon recommends using a 90/10 rule, where you only pitch your own services 10 percent of the time and populate your feed with other relevant content 90 percent of the time. Open Forum recommends one-in-seven rule.
— Yarra Valley Farms (@YVFarms) September 5, 2016
Be A Good Listener
Social media is interactive by its nature. Customers expect not only a social media presence but one that is regularly updated. Your customers will tweet you or leave a note on Facebook to get your attention. Make sure you respond, even just to acknowledge the comment, question, or criticism. You can always deal with a customer’s grief over private email, but try to respond or “like” any customer’s comments or questions within a business day or two to show you’re paying attention.
Social media is changing, so your golden rules for having a strong social media presence will evolve. As long as you remain in touch with your customers, engaged with your industry, and focused on your brand, you will have a solid grounding on which to market and grow your business.
[Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images]