Firstly, Happy New Year! I hope you all had a lovely festive break and are now feeling refreshed and ready to take 2014 by the horns!
The start of a new year is often a time of reflection, looking back at the year gone by and enjoying memories of the good times as well as the bad. In terms of business, the bad times are often just as useful as the good as they highlight areas that can be improved. For example, a lot of us have social media pages but we’re not really sure how to best use them. By looking back at lasts year activity you will be able to see what worked well and not so well.
It is important to keep in mind that social media is not to be used as a hard sell. Followers will tune out if all you ever share is sale information or ‘buy this’. Here are some tips to help grow your social media following by engaging with your audience in thought provoking, helpful and exciting ways.
A good competition is a fail safe way to increase followers and promote interactions on various social media pages. Competitions on Twitter run all day everyday by hundreds of different businesses. You will receive lots of new follows and retweets by offering a prize for some sort of interaction. Some are as simple as ‘retweet for your chance to win’ or as we have often done for our own brand of chocolate – ‘Beyond Dark’ tie your competition in with an existing campaign. For example, to follow up our ‘Moments of Pleasure’ campaign we ran a Twitter and Facebook competition open for all followers if they sent us their #momentsofpleasure from their week. Therefore if people wanted to enter they had to follow us, generating more follows. We then retweeted the entries to reinforce audience interaction and made comments on any where we thought applicable. Be sure to label tweets with hashtags such as #win #competition #freebiefriday to help people find them and, if possible, tweet a photo of the prize. This not only shows your audience the real life prize but it shows them what your product looks like. If they were to see it in the shop they have more chance of recognising it and picking it out over your competitor.
2. Consumer generated content marketing
Encourage your audience to share your brand. This can be tricky to achieve as it can not be forced. The intention is to give your audience the power to share your product socially. For example Coca Cola ran the ‘Share a Coke with’ campaign where they printed names on the side of coke cans and bottles. I don’t know about you but I lost count of all the Facebook and Twitter posts I saw where my friends had uploaded a photograph to their page of their beloved coke can adorned with their name. Fantastic marketing! Coke simply gave their customers the opportunity to share their brand with their friends and share they did. They didn’t ask their customers to do anything with their named bottles but their customers took it upon themselves to share and that’s why this campaign is clever.
3. Use your brand voice
Choosing the correct tone of voice for your social media pages might take a bit of practice. There needs to be a fine balance between being friendly and businessy, after all you are running a business and are using these pages for a reason. Try and adopt a similar tone as your other marketing activities, keep posts on brand. As for personal posts, try and keep them to a minimum.
4. Don’t ignore complaints
If customers get in touch through your social media pages with a complaint try and deal with them as quickly as possible. Turn the negative into a positive by reacting in a proactive way to sort the problem out. Yes your followers will probably have seen the complaint but more importantly they will see how you deal with it. This will demonstrate your customer service and how you react when something goes slightly wrong. Turning a blind eye or not reacting quick enough may result in other followers becoming involved by retweeting, or reposting the complaint. Nip it in the bud quickly and confidently to show your excellent customer service off.
We are often sent photos of our customers Beyond Dark creations. The fact that they have taken the time to send us something is worthy of recognition. The fact that they have shared it with their family and friends on their social media pages earns them, in our opinion, a lovely gold star (and often a free bag or two of chocolate)! We are always thrilled to receive them and where possible we try and show their creations off to our followers and friends alike on our own social media pages (below is an example of cupcakes made using Beyond Dark, sent in by a lovely customer). If a recipe is involved we ask their permission to share it on our blog. Again this helps build quality engagement with our audience as well as brand loyalty. This helps to guide old and potentially new customers to the point of purchase.
By experimenting with various social media platforms your brand can elevate itself by engaging with customers to reinforce brand loyalty. Try and be different, run unique campaigns that will capture the imagination of your customers so that they become even more involved with your brand.