Many old-fashioned marketers look at social media the same way they do paid search—whoever has the loudest voice and the biggest wallet wins. Unfortunately for them, that’s not the case—since people have become increasingly dependent on the recommendations, shares and likes of their friends and family, to the exclusion of commercial brands.
Back when Facebook allowed businesses to become a part of its network, there was a noticeable outrage, then scoffing across the social sphere—businesses could never make it on a social network. And to some extent, they were right. Businesses that sell, sell, sell and never respond to customer inquiries or complaints are doomed to wither on the social vine.
But there are many brands that have bucked that prediction and turned social media fans into outright brand advocates, reaping thousands upon thousands of likes and comments for themselves.
Facebook Business Pages that Rock!
No matter what you’re selling, you can whip up some amazing engagement on Facebook. Here’s what all the best pages for small business have in common:
Users respond most to attractive Facebook photos. Chicago bakery Molly’s Cupcakes has taken the “picture is worth a thousand words” to a whole new level, with delectable images like this:
Don’t you just want to reach through your screen and take a bite? Nearly 8,000 fans would too.
But great photos aren’t the only thing Molly’s has going for them. Their cover photo is also smartly done (see below).
Clear, Clickable Buttons
Using your cover photo to direct attention to your customizable buttons before the timeline is a little-known but clever Facebook marketing strategy that can funnel users to your ecommerce website:
Another example comes from Legendary Whitetails, also known as “Deer Gear,” a small hunting shop that specializes in clothing and accessories.
Legendary Whitetails’ Facebook sections include a blog, contest, photos and reviews
Notice how their Views & Apps (the four thumbnails below the cover photo) not only showcase photos, but also their reviews, a themed hunting blog and a contest.
Your Views & Apps are a great place to engage followers. Inviting them to click and order online (with relevant reviews and testimonials right below) can be an encouraging spark for users to take action.
React to Customer Feedback
Of course, a Facebook page is about more than just an attractive cover photo or good-looking pictures and inspirational quotes. You also have to encourage and react to customer feedback rather than leaving your page as a ghost town and hoping readers don’t notice.
Shoppers often make comments, suggestions and share ideas through Facebook pages, as they did for a local donut shop in Dallas, Texas.
Not every suggestion will turn into an event or actual product, but thanking and acknowledging the customer for their feedback can lead to some incredible brand loyalty!
Combining photos with “Share/Like if…” can be a great motivator to encourage comments and shares—especially if you have a product or service that people can relate to or highly desire, such as a pool or spa. Grand displays of luxury or beauty are often shared with friends and ignite discussion among the group:
Pool Supply World shares amazing images of pools on their Facebook page
All of these points will drive up interaction on your Facebook page and encourage click-throughs to your website and products. But as media-rich as it is, Facebook isn’t the only game in town. It’s also possible to drive clicks with 140 characters through Twitter:
Creating Something Worth Tweeting About
We often hear stories of celebrities and politicians making share-worthy gaffes that they’d rather forget, but with Twitter, businesses and experts can get in on the action too. It’s time to embrace Twitter as a source of targeted traffic. Here’s how others are doing it.
Stay True to Your Topic
While it’s fine to share an extra-cute fuzzy animal video every once in awhile, people typically aren’t following you for that reason. Make sure almost every tweet includes one (or more) of the following:
- A new post showing your expertise and how it applies to your followers
- A short video/tutorial on how to do something that they can learn on a lunch break
- A hashtag or event that aligns with your brand (like #smallbiz or #onlinemarketing)
- A relevant question you’d like your audience to respond to
Misty Young, otherwise known as @Restaurant_Girl is the owner of four restaurants, a best-selling book and provides corporate speaking, training and consulting services. She “only” has around 2,300 followers, but those that do follow her are keenly interested in her advice, discoveries and resources—all of which send traffic back to her personal site or to one of her restaurants.
Two of the most important things that Misty does are spotlighting other people in her industry and sharing related topics that are worth mentioning. She also retweets posts from customers who share pictures of their feed (from one of her restaurants) on Instagram or Twitter, and highlights workshops and other events that other speakers and trainers may benefit from.
These posts, in turn, foster stronger business relationships and create goodwill between her and her customers/followers. When you consistently deliver value, entertainment, information or tools to help other people along the way, you create that highly sought-after reciprocal sense of “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.”
Using Twitter to promote other people as well as creating goodwill for yourself
Use Hashtags Where it Makes Sense
#Dont #You #Hate #It #When #People #Do #This? Most avid social media users do. One or two hashtags is plenty to spread the word. Tai Goodwin, host of Launch Talk, knows that hashtags are meant to be used in ways where it makes sense.
She often tweets tidbits about her Launch Talk guests, plus snippets of information and details that are relevant to her target audience, working moms and women entrepreneurs—a group that she targets in her bio and related services.
Tai also tweets links to quizzes that can help people more closely align with their purpose. Small but significant points like these can be just the right nudge that someone needs to get back on track.
Retweet Praise Often
Another thing that small businesses do is share the love—often. When someone tweets praise, good business practice on Twitter is to thank the giver and build relationship. But what if they aren’t tweeting praise?
When someone tweets a complaint, it’s good practice to address the concern publicly, letting the client know that your company is taking steps to remedy the situation. This not only shows that you’re ready to be attentive to people’s needs, but that you’re making efforts to clear up the situation or misunderstanding so that everyone wins.
Harnessing the Power of Pinterest
Pinterest was one of the fastest-growing social networks on the web, and it’s easy to see why. Searchable, “pinnable” images provided inspiration and motivation for many people—who would in turn invite their friends to contribute to “pinboards,” large image-pinning areas where other members can contribute.
Think of Pinterest as an open canvas where everyone is invited to inspire and be inspired. According to ecommerce provider Shopify, Pinterest can help fuel ecommerce sales through its unique social angle—making it roughly equivalent to Twitter in terms of engagement and share-ability.
Although Shopify’s study mainly looked at its own brand of stores together with Pinterest, the overall results were definitely something to take note of, especially if you’re in a more visually-oriented profession.
Some of their findings include:
- The daily number of Pinterest users has increased by over 145% since January 2012.
- Pinterest pins with prices get 36% more likes than those without.
- Many brands have more followers on Pinterest than Twitter.
- Reports are suggesting that buyers referred from Pinterest are 10% more likely to buy.
What’s more, orders from Pinterest are double those from Facebook, and even higher than Google or Amazon.
So how can your business benefit from Pinterest’s rapid growth while staying true to the organizational and sharing nature of the site? Follow these steps:
- Set up a business account and upload an attractive profile photo
- Lay out your organizational space by creating Pinboards around your products. Pinterest advises that you create boards around ideas rather than things. So for example, if you sell candles, your Pinterest board may show “Things We Love About Fall,” showcasing a few of your fall favorites (candles and otherwise).
- Add professionally taken photos to each board. Not every user will follow every board—this is normal. Some may be interested in inspiration, others in do-it-yourself projects.
Housewares retailer West Elm provides “Most Pinned” links to its products on Pinterest through its website
- Share your inspirations. Don’t just use Pinterest as a showcase for your own things, but the items from elsewhere that complement (not compete with) your own products.
- Add “Pin It” buttons to your photos on your website, or optionally embed your Pinterest boards to your site itself. Pinterest and many popular website content management systems include methods of doing this.
Personalizing Your Offers
A recent study showed that shoppers want more personalized offers, but they don’t want to give out too much personal information. This presents a perplexing problem for online retailers—how do you find the right balance of value and communication to build brand loyalty without looking like a digital stalker?
The solution is that even if your customer won’t give you much in the way of information, you can still glean a great deal about them via analytics, including information like this:
What’s more, there are different types of targeting based on this information: behavioral, geotargeting, technographic and weather targeting. Behavioral and geo-targeting are the most common, while technographic targeting is still a bit of a grey area (see the Orbitz Mac vs. PC pricing controversy above).
Still, it’s very common to target users based on PC vs. mobile device and display a responsive website accordingly (see Chapter 5 for more details on optimizing for mobile), but as of this writing, technographic targeting is still very much in its infancy.
And even though Orbitz was lambasted through social media for their pricing differences, a study by Monetate showed that yes, Mac users really do spend more. And this spending goes across from desktop to mobile devices as well:
Apple users (Mac, iPhone, iPad) tend to spend more than their Windows and Linux counterparts
And these spending trends then beget the question, Where does social media factor into all of this, and how does it convert?
Social vs. Search
You may be disheartened to know that, overall, social-based conversions are still tepid at best, with Monetate’s research showing a pathetic 0.59% conversion rate. Search-based conversions are better at a rousing 2.59%. But email-based conversions are the real jackpot, revealing a 4.25% average conversion rate for users.
Does that mean you should ditch your social initiatives and focus exclusively on email? Not at all. Social is social for a reason. Use those campaigns to build rapport with your customers and invite discussion and shared experiences about your product or service.
At the same time, always be looking for opportunities to grow your email list and offer extreme value to your subscribers in a way that builds reciprocal action.
In the next chapter, we’ll take a look at optimizing your ecommerce website for mobile, including building a responsive site, responsive emails, and even apps. If you don’t think people are comfortable shopping from their mobile phones, think again. Mobile is taking the web (and ecommerce) by storm.