Auburn, Alabama — In a world where people depend on social media, many small businesses fall behind in an effort to stay up to date with the current communication trends. Understanding the proper way to communicate with customers is difficult, but there are easy ways that small businesses can expand their social media use daily.
Small businesses must first understand the basics of each social media platform. There are three important communication channels that are commonly used. These three channels are Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. All of these media platforms are tools that help businesses directly engage with their customers.
The first step to engaging customers is creating a unique homepage for each of these social media platforms. On this homepage, businesses include their contact information, hours of operation and a short description of the business’s products and services.
The amount of information included on each homepage varies depending on the channel. The Facebook homepage includes as much detail about the business as possible. On the Instagram and Twitter pages, the introduction section is much smaller and contains a simple but effective description of the business.
Many know Facebook as a website used to stay in contact with friends and loved ones, however Facebook is a fantastic resource for expanding ones small business. The key use for Facebook is to inform customers of upcoming events and services. Businesses should use this as a tool to directly communicate with their customers by replying to any comments or concerns posted on the page.
Unlike the other social media platforms, Facebook has separate tabs that give viewers more detail about the business. These tabs are on the left-hand side and include photos, reviews, likes, events, videos, services and offers pages. Specific tabs allow followers to easily find the information they are seeking.
Facebook users should update their page at least twice a day, once in the morning and once at night, in order to keep customers informed and reminded of the business.
Twitter is another great resource for allowing customers to directly contact the business. Unlike Facebook, Twitter is mostly used to give followers short messages and responses.
Twitter posts are called tweets and are only 140 letters. These tweets should contain information regarding events and services as well as capture the audience using visuals and creative posts. Twitter users are constantly tweeting in order to keep up with the constant conversation that is trending online.
Because Twitter is a social media platform that is regularly changing, small businesses are encouraged to tweet at least twice a day. These might include services and products offered, sales or promotions, creative tactics to engage customers and reposts of other tweets about the business.
Instagram is an online social media platform that allows people to share photos and videos. This resource is a great way to show real-life photographs and videos of the services or products the business provides.
Although most users post pictures, Instagram allows users to post short videos. These 60-second videos are the perfect opportunity for businesses to display their creativity and capture the attention of their viewers.
Small businesses should try to post pictures once or twice a day. Using creative pictures and angles to capture customers is a great way to keep people reminded of the business.
Knowing how to engage current and potential customers is important. The first step is remembering that people have very short attention spans when it comes to social media.
“Nowadays people want their information in a quick, fast and hurried manner – with visuals preferably,” said Dr. Jazmine Brantley, an economic development specialist for Alabama Extension at Alabama A&M University. “The most effective way to communicate with my customers was through imagery and video. A quick glance at an engaging photo or video no longer than six minutes will entice interaction and promising results.”
Understanding who your customers are and how you can keep their attention is also important. These followers are also known as the businesses target audience or key publics.
“Small businesses should use social media two to three times a week on platforms that their key publics often use,” said Dr. Diana Sisson, a social media professor at Auburn University. “To do this, small businesses need to base their social media use on research, specifically who are their key publics, what platforms do they use, how often do they use social media and why they use it.”
A creative way to attract new customers is using trends that are popular among both customers and other businesses. These might include current events in the news or popular pictures and phrases circulating.
Twitter is a great resource businesses use to find current trends. Because users are constantly updating their Twitter, small businesses can see what people are talking about and form a creative reference that relates back to their business.
“Piggy-back off of similar small businesses as well – especially those that happen to rank higher in numbers of followers,” said Dr. Brantley. “Post alongside those other small businesses, comment avidly on your own platform, offer freebies, and keep your mobile device by your side because as soon as the traffic comes, managing it all will be a task all its own!”
Understanding the basics of each social media platform and using creativity to attract potential and current customers, small businesses have the opportunity to stay ahead in the confusing world of social media.