Social media has revolutionised the way we do business, with many of the traditional functions of public relations, marketing and advertising to get the word out about what we do being turned on their heads.
Indeed, many businesses have decided to take control themselves of how their image is projected and awareness of their services increased by optimising social networking channels such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram et al as well as through their own website.
In principle, this not only saves money but has the potential to make more money at the same time. In reality, if social media doesn’t come entirely naturally to you, or you are just so busy doing what you do best (ie. running your company!) to devote to strategising your campaign for best effect/results you coould be costing yourself dear.
At the recent Australasian Academy of Anti-Ageing Medicine (A5M) conference in Melbourne (August 16-17), California-based Samuel Peek, Executive Officer of Incredible Marketing, addressed practitioners and therapists from the aesthetics and wellness spaces.
He offered insights into how social media marketing and other digital communications can help increase your visibility online, expand your brand presence, promote word-of-mouth marketing and attract new customers while increasing your return on investment.
For those who are already highly social media savvy some of these insights might seem like, duh!, but to the audience at A5M they struck strong chords. For it’s another reality that a large proportion of the population doesn’t have a handle on social media in terms of how it can grow a business – even social media for pleasure. And they are too afraid of being embarrassed to ask – or don’t know who or what to ask.
‘By creating unique content and strategic promotions, it encourage your followers to spread your message via word-of-mouth with their social networks,’ says Samuel. ‘Social media expands your customer reach and also boosts your Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) rankings.
‘It is the best marketing tool for spreading your content across the web, increasing customer loyalty and trust, influencing your audience, and controlling the conversation about your brand online.’
WHAT SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS MATTER?
According to Samuel:
- Twitter helps your SEO position as it goes viral
- Google+ gives you SEO prominence as it automatically comes up higher in search engines. And you don’t have to do much more than just join!
- Pinterest and Instagram make it easy to share your message because images ‘sell’. But make sure your exclusive images are watermarked with your brand and are linked back to your website so people can’t ‘borrow’ your intellectual property. All this is time-consuming, though. Think about whether it’s worth the time invested.
- YouTube – people love seeing before and afters and treatment procedures (where appropriate). However, creating good video content is not cheap.
- LinkedIn is very powerful way to talk to other business people and a means of accessing hard-to-reach executive males with your message.
- Facebook lets you control the conversation and build a lasting relationship so that your customers or audience keep coming back for more.
KEEP IT REAL
Find a voice that is appropriate for your demographic and reflects your business and its philopsophies. This allows you and your staff to engage with your clients, existing and potential. By sharing stories from your business you will build an audience connection.
Talk about what you offer that makes you a specialist in your field and why you’re good at it. Sharing your experience, knowledge and information helps generate referrals. But seem like a real person; don’t be afraid to inject your own personality into your content.
Be authentic. Be who you are. You don’t have to be seen as ‘young and sexy’. If your business is not ‘young and sexy’ don’t pretend to be. That’s not important. The services you offer and what you can do for people is. If you have a more mature demographic, talk to them appropriately.
LOSE THE HARD SELL
If your social media strategy or website are only geared to sales promotion … it’s a turn-off. You’ll get your posts deleted or blocked altogether.
Of course you’re there to ultimately sell your services but don’t just sell – educate! It’s still selling but makes for more worthwhile and interesting content that people will actually read.
For instance, if you are a spa or clinic offering skin treatments, post content about ‘what happens to your skin in your 40s’. Get your sales pitch in there by suggesting what products and treatments you offer as solutions.
DON’T BE BORING
Mix up your social media to go after the untapped market and target different demographics. Build your audience with analytical tools – there’s plenty available online to measure who’s reading what and what posts are popular (or not).
Also find different ways to track your social media traction. For instance, put a separate phone number on your Facebook posts or Twitter feeds to see exactly where your inquiries are coming from.
DON’T BE A GHOST TOWN!
Post regularly to keep people engaged and so you look on top of your game and up with events. It’s not a good message to send (or, rather, not send) an audience if you don’t post for days or weeks at a time.
How do we manage this when there’s so much else to do just running your business?! Decide what you want to promote/sell and stick to it. Plan ahead so that when you have time to devote to social media you can stockpile content for future use – whether photos, content, infographics etc. It’s good to provide links to info sites so your audience can learn more. This also sets you up as an authoritative source of information.
YOUNGER IS NOT ALWAYS BETTER
Don’t necessarily pick someone young to oversee your dgital communications just because they’re social media savvy (or cheaper to employ for the task) – they won’t necessarily understand the messages that need to be put across, or have your depth of experience and knowledge.
If you’re not confident about setting up a social media strategy yourself, or running it, investigate a reputable agency.
CREATE AN ‘EXCLUSIVE’ CLUB
A strategic email marketing campaign is a great way to stay in touch with current customers, push promotions and highlight new products or services! Give your email subscribers the ‘inside scoop’ on what’s happening behind the scenes to make them feel valued and special. Email marketing is a great tool for promoting your social media profiles, encouraging review, and sending traffic to your website.
POSITIVES OUTWEIGH THE NEGATIVES
Encourage feedback and control the conversation aboutyour business. Brand yourself as the industry leader and expert. Everyone is heading to online review sites to give their ‘two cents worth’ on brands and businesses with their personal experiences.
The goal is to build a strong offense of positive online reviews, so in case that one bad seed decides to complain, it will be buried by all the positive reviews from happy clients.
Don’t be tempted to delete negative feedback (unless it’s defamatory or would be truly detrimental to your business). Having a few negative comments among mostly positive makes it seem more credible.
‘If I was to read nothing but glowing comments, I’d be somewhat sceptical – after all, not everyone is going to be 100 percent happy 100 percent of the time. It’s not realistic,’ says Samuel.
And by contacting people who post negative comments to offer ways to improve their experience can actually convert them into loyal clients and positive feedback-givers. It can actually work in favour of your reputation.
THE PUPPY IS OKAY …
Everything doesn’t have to be serious and clinical – it’s good to have fun and we know people flock to animal photos online.