Saturday, January 14, 2017

How to Not Fail at Social Media for Your Business Website

It’s easy to set up social media accounts for your small business website, but it’s even easier to get it completely wrong. While social media can be a bit of a moving target at times, there are some basic practices that you should always integrate into your website’s use of social media:

Start with Goals Before Tactics

It’s quite common for business owners to start with “how” to do social media when they really need to think about why they’re using social media and what they hope to gain from it. Once you can strategically figure out where your business is going and how social media can help you accomplish your goals, you’ll have a better idea of how to use it.

For instance, you could focus on using social media to address customer concerns if you don’t create a lot of content on your website. However, if you want to use a blog to drive more traffic to your website, make sure your social media team understands which posts need to be shared and that your blog writers are consistent in their writing schedule. In addition, adding images to blog posts will make them show up better on Facebook and could even lead to more shares on Pinterest if relevant.

Whether you want to build more awareness through generating a large list of followers and fans or you want to generate a list of quality leads, your use of social media will always matchup with  the goals and outcomes for your business website.

Keep Your Social Accounts Personal

The reason why people use social media is for personal contact with a friend, colleague, or family member. While the personal experience of online shopping is quite different from that, social media opens up opportunities to directly assist a customer with a purchase.

The advantage of social media is the personal availability of a business to specific customers. Don’t just have a one way, information dump mentality with your customers. Ask important product research questions, offer feedback to comments, and share the information that will be most helpful to them rather than just throwing press releases their way.

Don’t Overwhelm Readers with Social Media

Social media can be a very positive experience for both customers and website owners, but if you get social media wrong, it can become either ineffective or a liability. For example, inundating readers with a mess of social media buttons at the bottom of your blog posts or in your website’s side bar will not be as effective as three to five specific social media platforms that are used most frequently.

Certain social media buttons will depend on the nature of your business. If you sell household decorating products or anything related to food, then Pinterest is a must. If you’re selling software or technology, don’t even bother with Pinterest. Stick with Facebook and Twitter. While you don’t need every button, carefully choose which ones you make available on your site.

Some bloggers have also started sharing specific lines from their posts as suggested tweets, a practice that may strike some as helpful but could also be perceived as being a little too pushy or presumptuous. Use your own judgment here, but my own sense is that readers will share what stands out to them without being specifically prompted. You could always use bold font to highlight an important point in order to make it stand out without actually telling readers you expect them to tweet a particular line.

Make Action Steps Simple

Don’t lose sales or subscriptions by creating too many steps or leaving action steps vague on your website’s landing pages. When a customer from a social media account lands at a promotional page on your website, make sure the action step is one simple and immediate action that the customer can take. The email sign up form or “purchase” buttons should be right there for them to use. Don’t expect customers will hang around to scroll through your website in order to find a promotion.

If you have a blog post that you’re directing customers to, add an action step at the end of the post asking them to subscribe to your blog or e-newsletter. Always give customers one simple step to take after visiting your site from social media. Chances are they’re just killing time on social media anyway, so they won’t have a lot of patience for a poorly designed website.

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