It’s now widely understood that all customer-centric businesses must have some kind of presence on social media. Even small, independent businesses are turning to platforms like Facebook to keep their customer base informed and engaged. While the fundamental merits of social media (such as maintaining an informational presence on at least one channel, posting regularly to reach customers, responding quickly to concerns and tracking helpful analytics) have been repeatedly lauded in recent years, many businesses are still not leveraging their social media the way they could be.
Meaningful, creative and consistent engagement via social media can have a transformative effect on the growth of your business, no matter your industry or current state of affairs. I know this because our company, Pink Lily, generated $50 million in our first four years in business — and that tremendous success was only possible thanks to the reach and impact of smart social media management. As an e-commerce retailer that started on eBay, we were positioned from the outset to rely on social media for inventive marketing campaigns and sales generation. That being said, the tips I outline here are applicable to businesses of varying circumstances and sizes.
If you’ve mastered the basics of social media and are ready to boost your game, consider the following:
1. Spotlight Your Customers
For many people, social media posts are an opportunity to gain recognition, praise and attention (either personally or professionally). This means that your social channels should help your customers to achieve that goal, acting as platforms for spotlighting the purchases, contributions and successes of your customer base. At Pink Lily, we do this by making a practice of reposting and sharing every mention we receive after a purchase. By sharing customers’ posts and photos, we are increasing their visibility and providing a quick, uplifting feeling of fame. This is an enticement to continue posting about our products, and the cycle feeds itself in such a way that we see enormous spikes in traffic. For your business, spotlighting your customers or clients might mean adding their photo, name or business name and a key hashtag to a post in order to generate positive interest in their respective profiles or pages.
2. Offer Daily Freebies
Free products, services, gift cards and counsel are always warmly welcomed — no matter the business in question. To engage with social audiences and generate repeat visitors, Pink Lily offers a simple daily contest giveaway on social, offering a popular product or gift card for a minimal level of engagement. Because this is a daily opportunity, social followers end up returning to play again and again (thus increasing our overall level of traffic and engagement and further connecting our shoppers to our brand). The investment of one complementary product or small gift card per day is a small price to pay for the sales we generate over time. For your business, offering daily freebies might mean regularly posting complementary and helpful tips or offering regular lotteries for visitors to “win” a valuable product or service.
3. Crowdsource For Advice
Your customers or clients want to feel that their voices matter. To build this sense of trust and appreciation, you must think beyond the reactionary. Responding quickly and politely to customer questions and concerns is only part of the process. At Pink Lily, we also like to proactively engage our social media followers to solicit their advice and input on our products before they make their way to our site. In other words, we invite our followers to be the buyer and act as insiders weighing in on large-scale buying decisions before they happen. This practice creates a harmonious two-way relationship with our customers, and we continue to use social media on a daily or near-daily basis to enhance and strengthen that relationship. For your business, crowdsourcing for advice might mean involving your social media followers in decisions such as where to host your next big event or the color of your revamped company logo.
Compared with the typical recommendations for business growth, implementing these social media practices require a relatively low level of investment, in terms of staffing and financial resources. When considering the potential payoff, this is an easy decision to make. Think about customizing these recommendations to fit your business’ industry, scale and growth goals, then examine your sales metrics after three to six months of implementation. I bet you’ll be surprised by the results.
By Chris Gerbig