Sonix StudioWe already know Social Media is the biggest hype for small business marketing  in recent history, and rightfully so.  Businesses that blog and engage in social media can see 80% or more traffic than businesses that don’t.  If you are already on the bandwagon, good for you, but let’s be sure you aren’t hindering your campaign through bad social media practices…

Let’s discuss social media by what it truthfully is, a communication tool.  That’s right.  It’s no different than a telephone call, email, or talking with a customer in your store. I can tell you through experience, social media is not being treated the same way.

You see, many small businesses still don’t like social media. They tend to view it as a thing they have to do. They procrastinate and probably don’t even check it on a daily or weekly basis. When they do, all they care about is how many “likes” they have.

When a customer calls you on the phone, you answer it, correct?  If they are in the store, you walk over and ask if they have any questions about your products, right? If they email you, you respond, yes?  Not only do you communicate with these customers, you are excited to do so because they are a potential sale. That line of communication directly impacts your wallet. Is your social media audience being met with the same respect?

Think about the message that you send when you don’t respond to a social media discussion. You are completely telling the person on the other end that you are not worth their time. How would you feel if you took the time out of your day to ask a question to your favorite vendor, only to have them never respond? You’d feel shunned, am I right?

I had a recent experience that I’d like to share. I met this owner of a “crafty-type”,  “mom-and-pop” store at a business function. We talked for a bit and discussed each other’s companies and what we did for a living. I gave her some tips on how to use social media for her business, with an emphasis on Pinterest, because I thought that would work very well for her. She didn’t ask me much about my company, but that is always OK with me. I’m more of a listener than a talker anyway.

Our conversation intrigued me though. She definitely wasn’t using the full power of social media for her business, so the following week I went in to visit her store.  She wasn’t there, but I did find a few gift items for some of our customers for Christmas. I made a purchase and left the store.

That day, I emailed that store owner. All I said was that I stopped by. I mentioned her store was very nice and the sales person was really friendly and described how she helped me find a few gift ideas for a customer (I was clearly out of my element in a craft store). That was it…no sales pitch, no intent to ask for a meeting, nothing like that.

I did not hear back from her at all. No “thank you for the purchase”. No “sorry I missed you”. Nothing.

The effect of that non-response: I won’t be back. She obviously doesn’t value our relationship enough to even respond.

So think about your social media campaign and how you use it each day. Engage with your customers, because if you don’t, you may as well not be on social media at all. The key to social media is being “social.”

Monitor your accounts on a daily basis and respond when people ask you questions or even make comments. It means the world to them that you are listening. 

Set up your 1st response team for your social media accounts.If you don’t have time to monitor them yourself, hire a 3rd party company to do that for you or have an office manager manage it. Even if that person isn’t capable of answering, they can at least alert you that there is some action on your Facebook or Twitter account that you need to take care of. 

You wouldn’t ignore a customer in your store or someone standing at the front desk - because that would be weird. Don’t be weird, be cool, and respond to your social media audience. They are standing at your door.