Climbing the Social Media Ladder – Mix and mingle with your customers online Part 2

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Continued from January 2, 2017

To help get you started or even if you’re already out there, Susie Erjavec Parker, owner of Sparker Strategy Group, a Winnipeg-based social media and public relations agency

offers tips and suggestions on each of the main social media sites. Find out which platforms are a must, those that are nice to haves and which you can skip altogether. Regardless of which sites you are on though, Erjavec Parker says “don’t waste any more time.”

“The platforms and networks may change, but social is here to stay. Facebook might not be around forever, but the social aspect of communicating with your customers in real time is only going to get bigger.”

And as any good business owner or manager knows, you don’t get successful by ignoring opportunities to get to your customers.

Twitter

Why you should use it
Twitter is a great place to be, just to listen to what’s happening in the world around you. Simply having a presence here will provide an account for your business to be tagged or mentioned by others, including customers, local companies or even family and friends who may recommend you to their own network.

Typical user
Similar to Facebook, Twitter typically sees those in Generation X using the platform, but unlike its competitor, it doesn’t tend to get the older audience.

Useful tip
You can set up your Instagram and/or Facebook feeds to post on Twitter, so even if you don’t want to stay active on Twitter, your account won’t look vacant.

Final call
If you can’t be everywhere, Twitter is one you don’t need to be actively involved with, but you should set up an account for the tag factor.

Snapchat

Why you should use it
Snapchat wasn’t even on the radar last year and now it’s everywhere. It won’t be long until the typical business is using it. It’s primarily used to send videos or photos to followers or broadcast messages out to the world. It’s rise to popularity can be attributed to the unique fact that a “snap” will disappear after it’s been seen. You can also post a “story” that can be viewed multiple times over 24 hours.

Typical user
Young (millennials or anyone under 35), but expanding every day.

Useful tip
Snapchat is great for a behind-the-scenes look or showing demos.

Final call
If you’re new to social media, skip it – for now. Start off simple with Facebook or Instagram, as Snapchat is not as intuitive as the older platforms. But with the growth Snapchat is seeing, it wouldn’t hurt to get a personal account so you can better understand it and find out if it is the right fit for your company in the near future.

LinkedIn

Why you should use it
LinkedIn is a business-oriented social media platform. It’s primarily used for business-to-business connections or researching companies or people. You can use it to join like-minded or local groups to network, generate new leads, attract new employees, and connect with industry professionals.

Typical user
Working-age adults or college graduates.

Useful tip
It’s not a requirement, but publishing posts or sharing articles, photos or videos is a great way to stay top-of-mind.

Final call
It’s a must for connecting with local business owners, who may include current customers or prospective leads. You’re not likely to be able to search out these people on other platforms like you can with LinkedIn, explains Erjavec Parker. For example, you could find the owner of several local Tim Horton’s franchises and pitch your services. You should set up a personal profile as well as a company page.

Notable mentions:

Facebook Live
It’s still new, even by social media standards, but Facebook Live, which allows you to post live videos, is going to be huge, says Erjavec Parker. There’s tons of opportunity to get in early and use this live feature with sneak peeks, showcasing new offerings, introducing new staff, telling brand stories, or highlighting how you’re giving back to the community. The later can boost your exposure more so than even advertising due to the chance of it going viral. While Snapchat and Periscope (through Twitter) are similar offerings, Erjavec Parker predicts that Facebook Live “will crush the competitors.”

ChatBot
Not a social media network, but it will become a major element of customer service. ChatBot or ChatterBot is a computer program that can conduct conversations online. Their sophisticated systems can scan a customer’s question for keywords and then offer a suitable reply. Facebook is testing ChatBots on select pages with the ultimate goal being to keep people on the social media network. If you can chat, shop and get help on Facebook, you’ll never have to leave, and that’s Facebook’s mission.

Not-so-notable mentions:

Google+
Google+ is past its prime (if it ever really had one) but if you have an established presence, and it’s still working for you, keep at it. Don’t go building a new presence on this particular platform though.

YouTube
YouTube is great, but it is very time consuming for a business to keep their channel current, says Erjavec Parker. It’s also being punished by Facebook as it wants you to upload your video directly to their site, rather than YouTube, which is a third party site. (Facebook does not promote third party links, so the likelihood of your video being seen will decrease.) Instead, she recommends posting videos directly to Facebook. Or if you must use YouTube, post a short teaser of the video on Facebook and include a link to the full video in the comments.

Facebook Advertising
Organic reach – reaching people outside your immediate net of Facebook followers – can be challenging nowadays with so many businesses vying for space and attention. To combat this, don’t be afraid to buy ads on Facebook to get more reach. The social media giant has a great system built for targeting audiences based on key parameters. Even for smaller businesses without a huge marketing budget, Facebook advertising is fairly inexpensive and easy to use.

“It’s a pretty low barrier to entry in terms of how much you have to spend to get good results,” says Erjavec Parker. The social media expert also recommends Google AdWords as an inexpensive, easy-to-use foray into online advertising.

You can reach Susie Erjavec Parker at www.sparkerstrategy.ca.