When it comes to building a company brand and bolstering your business’s reputation, social media can be an indispensable tool. No matter what stage your business is in, whether it’s brand-new or well established, using social media platforms to promote your products and services is something no business owner should neglect to do. A reputable company is going have higher levels of success when seeking to attain more capital; loan officers will most likely research your company before even meeting with you, and an established online presence will go a long way towards lending your company credibility.
Many small business owners already understand the importance of jumping into social media as a way to build a strong reputation, but some business owners may be confused about how to best brand themselves in a world of desensitized consumers constantly bombarded by advertisements and promotions everywhere they turn. This article from GeekWire.com details a study done by Simply Measured, a Seattle startup, that looks at how some of the most successful businesses around today use Twitter to market their company’s image. Things like frequency of tweets, number of pictures and videos posted, and the amount of tweets containing links to other popular websites were all included in the study, but one of the key components the study measured was engagement, or how much businesses interacted with their followers and customers. The publishers of the study observe, “While top brands are dedicating resources to brand promotion, many aren’t engaging with users in a one-on-one capacity.”
Engagement on any social media platform—whether it’s in the form of a retweet, a reply to a customer’s Facebook comment, or following a customer’s board on Pinterest—is an important part of social media marketing that often falls to the wayside. It’s easy to concentrate too much on promoting your product and forget whom you’re promoting your product to: real people with busy lives who want to connect with something genuine.
The Woods Coffee, a family-owned chain of coffee restaurants based in Washington, is trying to help customers do just that. Besides posting about promotional events and sales, the company responds personally to many posts on its Facebook page. Recently, a customer posted a picture of her baby playing with an empty coffee cup sporting The Woods Coffee logo, to which the business responded, “So cute!” The business utilizes its social media presence in order to express gratitude for its customers, letting them know that the business is made possible only with their support. Another customer questioned why a particular pastry had been discontinued, and The Woods Coffee responded promptly with an explanation and an apology. The type of interactions between this business and its customers are exemplary of what social media accounts for small businesses should look like.
Small businesses have an advantage where large corporations do not: they can infuse their social media accounts with personality and humanity. Instead of constantly tweeting or updating about sales and promotions (though of course, these kind of updates have their place), small businesses can benefit by engaging their followers personally, participating in trends like #throwbackthursday—a nostalgic day on social media platforms where users post old pictures harkening back to the good old days—or asking followers to tweet or post a picture of their happiest moments. While these tweets might not directly promote the services or products of small businesses, they promote the humanity of the people within those businesses, creating identification with followers who are increasingly barraged in a sea of impersonal advertisements. As consumers become more and more desensitized to an overload of information, small businesses should leverage their power to get personal.