Social networking is a powerful marketing tool for the business centre and flexible workspace industry. It’s also an extension of other parts of your business – including customer service, branding, sales and after care. So it pays to get it right from the start.
Research shows that 63% of millennials stay updated on brands through social networks, and 89% of 18-29 year-olds are active on social media. Many businesses have a social media presence – be that a Linkedin profile or a spot of dabbling on Twitter. Yet according to Tony Restell, founder of Social Hire, most SMEs fall well short of their full social media potential.
“Many SMEs lack a strong social media presence because they don’t have the skills and resources to manage an effective social media strategy,” Tony said. “It needs a lot of resource and time to do it right and to get return on investment. Social media shouldn’t be landed on an admin person; it needs a focused and experienced resource with the right tools to make it work.”
Tony explained that businesses should follow four key steps to start to establish a strong social media business strategy:
1) Understand your audience
The first step is to establish who you intend to communicate with. As a business centre or coworking operator, you’ll most likely be communicating with existing and prospective clients. With that in mind, the next step is to think about your end game. What do you want to get out of your social media activity? Do you want to build your number of online enquiries, or website traffic? Do you plan to use social media to help sales and conversions, or purely as a customer service and retention tool?
All of these decisions will influence the way in which you communicate with your audience on social media and who to connect with, so it’s important to be clear about what you want to achieve before jumping in.
2) Think about your messages
You wouldn’t interact with a potential client without first thinking about what you want to say and how you say it. The same goes for social media. Everything you say (unless it’s a private conversation) is public, and absolutely anyone could be reading it.
With that in mind, social media becomes part of your public, and professional, image. So consider carefully the tone and content you put out there. Will you stick to a polite, corporate demeanor, or opt for something a little more laid-back and friendly? A relaxed conversational tone is perfectly acceptable on social media, providing you don’t take the informality too far; remember, your next major client could be reading your posts. Decide on your social ‘tone of voice’ and stick to it.
3) Increasing your social media followership
Many businesses jump onto social media with good intentions but soon let it fall by the wayside. For it to be effective, you need to keep at it. Every week, Tony recommends investing time to “get out there”. Ideally, commit a few hours per week to your social network, following new accounts, thanking others for following you, sharing and ‘liking’ interesting posts, and generally interacting positively with your contacts. Be consistent, and follow up promptly with questions or messages.
You can also post your company’s own content, such as blog and news content and promotional deals. Don’t go overboard on sales though. Remember that social media is all about being ‘social’, and too much hard sell will simply turn your followers away.
4) Engage with influential people
Get noticed by influential people and businesses. Focus on those that you want to reach – such as local journalists or councils – and engage directly with them by sharing their posts and adding valuable comments. The key is to get noticed and to encourage them to interact with you publicly and ultimately to share your own content.
Why is this important? Take @Social_Hire as an example. The company has 50,000 Twitter followers, and according to Tony, each month they are seen by up to 1million people, simply because their posts are retweeted and shared by others with a similarly large following. Twitter alone is putting the Social Hire brand under the noses of around 1million people every single month. Just imagine what such exposure could do for your business.
The temptation is to sit back and watch the sales roll in. But, Tony urges business owners to invest time in their social presence and to be consistent. “Social media is not about the hard sell. It’s about talking to people and engaging with them, which in turn adds to your sales funnel and can lead to increased traffic and conversions.”
It’s also important to analyze your efforts to keep track of performance, and to work on a long-term social media strategy.
“Success doesn’t happen overnight – it’s a long, steady process,” added Tony. “You need to chip away at it for months, building a good core of connections and investing time interacting, engaging and helping your connections.
“The sooner you get on it, the better.”