Social Media can help you better understand and grow your business.

Social Media can help you better understand and grow your business.

Social Media can help you better understand and grow your business.

Since 2006, I’ve been using Facebook and Twitter. I use both to help me grow the supply company I used to own. Yes, I had a very active MySpace profile. Over the past 3 years, Google + has been a very active platform. I also keep my LinkedIn profile up to date quarterly. YouTube is also a channel I am involved with. Let’s use Social Media to better understand and grow our business.

First, what’s the point? This is a waste of time and effort. As an industry, we are slow to adopt many of the social media tools that are available. Social media is a neglected area for many of the industry’s major players. It takes a lot of time to use social media and you can’t see the results as quickly. Many in our industry are still a lot more analog than they are digital. The pad printers are an excellent example. Amazingly talented and creative people who stamp ink. They are capable of making almost any work. But, if you have the right market and the right environment, sublimation could be a lifesaver for pad printers. Let’s get back to social media…

Why is it important to use social media? There are 37 million Facebook users who log on daily. In the last 10 minutes, there have been 40,250 tweets. What about Google +? What about Google +? Google receives 5,922,000,000 (Yes, that’s 5.9 Billion) searches per day. According to the latest comScore search engine market share figures, Google has a remarkable 67.6 per cent share of the U.S. market for search engines. Your search ranking will improve by being on G+, talking about keywords that are relevant to your business and sharing links to your site on G+. You will increase the likelihood of someone visiting your website because you have improved your search ranking. The numbers are correct. There’s an audience. Chances are that most of your customers are on social media and are waiting for you to interact.

Another reason is the price. It is absolutely free! It is easy to get social and it only takes effort and time. While there are some things that can make it easier to use social media, people who do it well and spend the time necessary to reach new customers and promote their businesses don’t need to pay anything. Are there other ways to reach your customers? Exposing at trade shows, home shows or other events could be an option. To do this right, however, you will need to spend $5,000 to $10,000. You can advertise online with banners and Google AdWords. To get the reach that social media offers, you should budget for between $1,000 and $2,000 per month. Advertisements can be placed on radio, television, or local newspapers. However, they cost money and are not something that small businesses have. You should consider using social media to increase your ROI (return-on-investment) for these things. Let’s suppose you spend $5,000 on a display at a local show but, by chance of the draw, end up in the corner behind the loudmouth realtor and nobody comes to see your booth. You can use social media to reach people with photos of your booth and jokes about loud mouth realtors. Let people find you by being yourself.

It isn’t one-sided, like other marketing strategies. You don’t have be the only person growing your business using it. Your customers and potential customers are the ones who drive real quality interaction. Your job is to encourage interaction between your products and company. This is not your elevator pitch in which you only have 30 seconds to sell products and services. Instead, use this time to discuss things that are important to your customers and create a relationship that will lead to long-lasting relationships. Happy customers are the best salespeople, so make sure they have a social media presence.

What else is there? You can use social media as a tool to improve customer service. Yes, I have been guilty of using Twitter to vent my dissatisfaction with poor customer service. I try to shout out companies that provide excellent customer service via social media. Many companies have found a way to help, support and take care of customers via social media. There are also examples of companies that make huge mistakes. One company many people in our industry may have heard about was named one of the top 10 social media failures by Inc. Magazines in 2014. They posted a photo of the Challenger spaceship exploding on their Tumblr page as a way to celebrate the Fourth of July. The social media manager, who was born after the Challenger disaster, was beaten for posting the picture of the Challenger space shuttle exploding on their Tumblr page. There are many companies in our industry that understand social media and make it a part of their customer service plans. Because of the assistance I received from their Twitter team during my difficulties traveling with my Autistic child, I am a frequent Southwest flyer. Their prompt response made my trip a pleasant one. I now fly very few other airlines. Monitor for negative comments about your product or company and then make sure that you do the right thing on social. When you interact with people on social media, it is important to try to understand their feelings and be compassionate. Be humble and check your ego before you go!

You can also use social media for product research and development. Social media can provide you with all kinds of information, including about your customers, competitors, and potential customers. It’s important to be part of the conversation. It is not enough to have a Facebook Page or Twitter Handle. To get something, you have to give it. You must solve problems, offer tips and tricks, and openly share who you are as an individual and company. This will allow you to ask people questions such as “Do you prefer the black edge plaque with this design, or the cherry edge plaque that has a different design?” By being part of the “group”, you can find out if your competition XYZ Company takes too much time to deliver a product or has other weaknesses that might be possible to exploit.

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