A common question we hear from small businesses in every industry and every region around the country: “We know we should be leveraging social media, but what the heck do we post?!”
It’s a fair question, since different brands have a unique social presence. For some businesses, social media focuses on marketing; for others, it’s about customer service. It all depends on you and your business.
It’s also understandable that some companies do a fantastic job with social, while others often fizzle out or miss the mark. Fundera recently published a list of The 30 Most Influential Companies on Social Media in 2019. The list highlights the best practices that companies in various industries use to make an impact on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Whether you’re a small business just starting to build your social presence, looking for new ideas on expanding your social footprint, or a growing firm that wants to take the next step toward social media greatness, there will always be something to learn from the most influential businesses on social media today.
1. Creating customer stories and testimonials
Who could possibly be better suited to explain benefits of using your business than the people who already do? How has using your business, your service, and/or your products, changed the lives of customers? Use social media to share the stories of your customers. Seeing these kinds of stories can inspire potential customers to take the plunge and become buyers themselves.
2. Responding to customer service requests
Like it or not, social media has become one of the most popular ways for customers to voice their displeasure, often more so than their pleasure, with a company they’ve done business with. People feel that the very public nature of these complaints makes them more effective than writing to companies in private.
When customers speak their mind, you should be listening. This helps you not only get out ahead of issues before they become widespread, but gain the attention and respect of those who are used to being ignored.
3. Engaging in social listening
Sometimes social media isn’t about posting, but about listening. The concept of “social listening” is becoming increasingly popular. Businesses can use the search function or third-party tools to find tweets about themselves. They can also learn important information about their industry or trends and join the conversation.
McDonald’s shows success in this area. Nearly any post from any social media user mentioning the McDonald’s name or product, gets a reply. People love to be recognized by their favorite brands, and that reinforcement will encourage them to continue posting about that brand—increasing the likelihood that their own followers and friends may try it themselves.
4. Highlighting employees
For B2B companies and other service-based companies, it’s not always clear what to feature on social media. Platforms like Instagram focus on visual experiences. But in fact, the many of the companies killing it on social media are not product-based businesses, but service-based. These businesses put a face to their social media presence by featuring stories of the people who make their business successful.
For example, companies like UPS, ExxonMobil and BHP tell the stories of their workers. They may detail the relationship their employees have with their families, pets, neighbors, and customers—in photos, videos, and blog posts. This humanizes a company for prospective and current customers.
5. Sharing deals and promos
Don’t forget the obvious uses of a channel that helps you broadcast news to your followers. Post deals, discounts, promotions, limited-time offers, and other updates that your price-conscious customers will love. If people know you use social media to post deals, they will likely become followers—and even turn on notifications of your updates. That way, you’ll stay top-of-mind for many of your fans. Consider applying a small promotional budget to these posts, to boost/promote them to a larger audience than just your existing followers.
6. Using influencers to build a buzz
Social media influencers are the flavor of the moment, and for good reason: they work. Businesses of all sizes team up with influencers (both individuals and major brands) to open larger audiences than they could otherwise.
For small businesses, the use of micro- or nano-influencers can be a more affordable way to garner engagement and build excitement about a new product or service. Just be sure to spend time finding influencers who match your brand, and make sure they’re willing to be transparent with their endorsement. Shoppers are becoming less and less charmed by influencers as many fail to disclose their deals openly.
7. Focusing on LinkedIn
It’s probably no surprise that Facebook is the biggest social media platform, with Instagram becoming a fast favorite. But for many businesses, LinkedIn is the best of the major platforms for sharing relevant, helpful, and engaging content.
LinkedIn has over 250 million active monthly users, and it’s arguably the best platform for B2B businesses to make connections and share content. Depending on your goals as a business, you might find most of your followers and better engagement on LinkedIn.
8. Posting job opportunities and openings
Social media isn’t just a customer-facing channel. You can also use it job board in the search for new talent. Again, LinkedIn is a shoe-in for this, but you can also post links to job listings on all your social media platforms. Who knows where your next great hire will come from? If they already follow you on LinkedIn or Twitter, that shows interest in your brand and you could fill that open role quickly (a lot faster than the average 90 days it takes to fill a role).
In a way, social media has leveled the playing field a bit when it comes to building brand awareness. What used to take years and millions in marketing budgets can often be achieved by small businesses in a fraction of the time and cost, as long as they’re smart about their approach. Remember to be genuine, consistent, and maintain continual focus on customer service.
This post adapted from an article on Manta.