SOCIAL MEDIA, SMALL BUSINESS, MARKETING
Stop Pushing and Start Pulling: Social Media for Small Business Marketing
Joanna Michaels, Beyond Social Buzz
How social media marketing can help in pulling customers towards your brand.
Social Media has been around for quite some time now. To be precise, for over a decade. Facebook, for instance, is 11 years old. Although that’s quite a long time, many small and medium businesses still mistreat it. They underestimate it, ignore its etiquettes and often abuse it.
If you want to accelerate your business growth through Social Media you must respect its rules. And most importantly, use it the way it was intended to be used. Only then you can make it work to your advantage.
So if you are not sure whether you are pulling or pushing your customers, let’s look at the main differences.
The traditional, push marketing (also known as an interruption marketing) focuses on approach where the brand message is pushed directly on consumers while they are doing something else. The idea here is to interrupt them and interject the marketing message.
Just think about the times when you listen to your favorite radio show, only for it to be interrupted by a commercial break, or perhaps even more annoying, when a TV advert interrupts your ‘Game of thrones’ session. What marketers hope for is that you won’t get off your sofa to go and get a snack when adverts are showing, but that you stay in your seat and memorise their message.
Despite the above, Push Marketing should not be considered as negative, as if executed effectively it can be highly successful, especially for raising awareness, when for example introducing a new product or service to the market. However, it is mainly used for driving short-term sales and it certainly isn’t the most cost-effective way of advertising.
The main shift in today’s marketing is towards the Pull Marketing.
The idea of Pull Marketing is to draw consumers towards the brand, to get them to find the company on their own, create a brand loyalty and keep them coming back.
The core aim is to develop a positive association with the brand among the audience and draw them into your business. They select your content (what you share online) because they find it of quality and they do it by ‘liking or following you’. They want to hear from you so they are more likely to buy from you.
And this is exactly what makes them a more quality, more receptive audience, as the conversion rates are likely to be much higher.
How Social Media can help to pull in customers towards your brand?
Put simply, when using Social Media for business, it is all about making your brand as friendly and engaging as possible. Only then you will be welcomed into the personal sphere of your target audience.
1. Build a targeted and engaged community
There is no point spreading yourself too thin. Many businesses end up feeling utterly overwhelmed by trying to participate in every social media platform out there.
Do your homework and find out where the audience spends time online? Be there. Be where your audience is. This will allow you to build a community of people who care about what your brand has to offer.
Provide a share-worthy and useful content. So before you hit that ‘post or tweet button’ think how the content you are about to share adds value to your community. If you consistently produce great content, people will naturally gravitate toward your brand.
2. Tell your brand’s story
As humans we love hearing stories and sharing stories. Many brands have an extremely compelling story to tell and they don’t realise it.
Make your audience interested in your story, so they feel connected to it.
Answer questions: What idea created your brand originally? What prompted you to start your business journey? What are your unique selling points? How does your product or service solve your customers’ problems?
3. Develop your Social Media Strategy
Ever heard the famous quote by Benjamin Franklin? ‘By failing to prepare you are preparing to fail’. It is highly relevant to your Social Media activity.
It’s absolutely crucial to draft a plan for your Social Media content and strategy in general, so be very clear on what your objectives are on Social Media. Only then can you monitor and measure your success.
In order to pull the audience towards your brand you should leverage content that isn’t exactly about your product or service, but is related to it.
So take a step back and think of concepts that are indirectly related to your brand. Example: if you are a real estate agent, don’t simply clog your social channels with info on listings. Instead balance your promotional message with interior decorating tips or images of famous homes from movies. Such a blend of content is much more likely to spark engagement.
Entertain, educate and inform, but whatever you do, don’t try to sell. It simply won’t work.
4. Listen to your community
Have you ever heard of User Generated Content? It is the holy grail of Social Media.
User Generated Content is any type of content that is created by users themselves about the business, through social media posts, discussion forum, reviews or photos.
5. Why is it so important?
Because when your audience shares content related to your business they are providing a ‘social proof’ to their friends, or in other words ‘a friends seal of approval,’ which has a great power in generating sales. 83% of UK customers say online reviews influence their buying decisions.
How can you encourage that?
Example: A clothes shop may ask customers to take photos of themselves while trying clothes on in the changing room. That acts as a double benefit, spreading the word among users’ networks plus gaining exposure through free of charge live models.
The key here is careful planning and execution, as a hashtag campaign that initially sounds like a great idea, can become a bashtag campaign.
That’s what happened to McDonalds a few years back. When McDonalds asked users to share their McDonalds stories through #MCDStories on Twitter, it started an unprecedented flood of Twitter posts. Most were quite satirical and pretty negative, i.e. ‘Found a fingernail in my Big Mac once’, or ‘I was hospitalized when I ate McDonalds in 1989 and became a vegetarian’. The campaign was stopped 2 hours after it was started, but the hashtag kept trending. So as you can imagine, ‘McDonalds was certainly NOT ‘loving it!’
User generated content campaign can be highly beneficial for small and medium size businesses. However, it should be planned and executed with care.
6. Be social!- Respect the rules of engagement
Don’t treat Social Media as your marketing slave. Instead remember why the vast majority of people use Social Media. Why? Correct, to socialize.
Explore different etiquettes associated with different platforms, i.e. you can’t possibly use Twitter the way you use Linkedin, since the character of these platform differs.
Be friendly and remember, Social Media is a two-way street. This is why it is called social! So if you want others to support your business and share your content, show appreciation and share their posts too. Or at least show gratitude for their kindness.
Be sociable, light-hearted, confident in your knowledge, yet humble and open to criticism. But most importantly, be yourself.
The marketing potential offered by Social Media to small and medium businesses is simply unprecedented. However, one should expect that shaping the Social Media path will bring some mistakes and misgivings. But with improved insight and understanding, you can certainly carve a successful Social Media path for your business and move ahead of the game.
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