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The social media challenges every business must overcome

Social media might seem a simple enough concept, but it’s really all about strategy and execution. Here are some of the challenges SMBs need to overcome before sucessfully building brand awareness via social media.

Social media is about strategy and execution, there is no one size fits all approach that will work for business of different sizes, industries and structures. But with 800 million active Facebook users, more than 200 million users on Twitter and these numbers growing all the time, social media is something businesses can’t ignore.

From one-man (or woman!) operations, all the way to multi-national organisations, social media has a place to increase sales and create customer loyalty and engagement.

From the outset it may seem simple to some, there are a number of challenges that businesses will need to overcome in order to build brand awareness through social media.

Mixed messages

In order to keep customers interested and not confuse them, the messages must be the same across the brand. No matter how many social media mediums you choose to use, if the key messages aren’t the same across all of them, customers will get confused and stop listening.

When deciding to undertake a social media strategy, decide on how you would like your customers to perceive you. Keeping this in mind at all times, posts should be tailored to convey these messages and tone. When creating a social media strategy, answer some simple questions such as what to do if a customer complains through social media or how professional you want your tweets and posts to sound. Keep this the same across all channels.

Finding the balance

Whilst unifying key messages across all mediums is key, keep in mind at all times your target audience. While a larger business may want to send out messages about a national based competition, a local cafe or hairdresser would more likely want to post messages about something in their local community, such as their sponsorship of a nearby junior football club or an upcoming fete. Think about what information is useful to your customers or clients.

Now what?

Once a strategy is set in place, it is now time to decide which platforms to send the messages out through. While it may be tempting to choose all of them, or only the ones you know well there are many other factors to take into consideration when choosing social media platforms.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is like Facebook, but for professionals. You don’t add personal information and profiles read more like a resume. For a business there is the opportunity to create a company page and update followers on what is going on, or another great way to increase brand awareness is to create a discussion group.

This can be named after the business or on the theme around the industry. It is a chance to start discussions with followers around issues facing your industry or sharing any interesting news with others. Sharing your knowledge and answering any questions group members may have is a great way to fuel engagement and goodwill.

Blogs

Blogs are a fantastic tool to share knowledge and wisdom with others and also to promote the company or individual as a thought leader.

Blogs should be updated at a minimum once a week and then links posted out through other channels. Start by brainstorming ideas of blog posts, for example if you are a gym you could post about the latest workouts, how to get ready for summer or the top five foods for weightloss.

Once you start brainstorming you will be surprised how many things you are an expert in. Try to encourage user comments and engagement by asking questions or asking readers to share their similar stories.

Twitter

Is a micro-blogging site that you can tweet through using only 140 characters, sometimes not the easiest task. It is a valuable method of reaching your target audience.

To increase followers for your business’ Twitter account, tweets need to have a personality. If they come across as marketing ploys or if they are overly promotional, followers will see straight through you. If you display an honest and interesting personality, followers will recognise there is a real person behind your tweets.

In creating a personality for Twitter make sure to have two-way conversations. There is no use in broadcasting your messages to your followers without also paying attention to any conversations happening and what others are sharing through Twitter. Ensure to join in on conversations and discussions, sharing any ideas or expertise you have, or even just replying to someone asking what they should have for lunch. People appreciate it when they know someone is listening.
Facebook

Is not for every business, it is usually more for consumer based organisations as people use it for personal reasons, sharing photos and updates with friends and family.

Use Facebook to link back to your website or blog posts, upload photos of things happening in the workplace and share interesting news or links.

Try not to post too often as it is easy for fans to unlike a page if they feel as though they are being spammed. Also, look into running competitions through Facebook. There are strict rules and regulations to follow but if you follow these it is a great way to garner more engagement on your page.

Making it worth it

In order to justify expenditure on a social media campaign, it is essential for a business to measure its social media ROI. While most people now understand how to use social media, a lot are still struggling to figure out if they are doing it well.

While it is easy to measure the number of Likes a page has, or how many retweets you receive, other parts of measuring social media strategy effectiveness aren’t so tangible. The reason is that, unlike most traditional marketing campaigns, social media is mostly about sentiment, engagement, brand loyalty and building solid relationships with customers. These are not things that can be measured by simply adding up the numbers in the right hand column.

Social media is an extremely useful tool that is cost-effective and simple (with a bit of know-how!) that can be used by any business of any size to increase customer engagement and generate more sales.

– Josh Frith is managing director of The Dubs, a digital engagement agency which creates environments that inspire audiences to interact with brands by connecting them with the brand’s story and each other.