This post by guest blogger Milissa Takashima appears as part of our series Small Business 500.
So you've got a Twitter Account and Facebook page, but now what? Make sure you're making the most of your time online by using social media to foster loyalty, not just to collect likes.
1. Understand your friends
It can be very difficult to hold a a phone conversation if you have no idea who is on the other line. The same holds true for social media.
Once you have an established business account on Facebook, it's time to take a look at the demographics of your audience. Use Facebook's "Insights" tool to learn about the gender, age, and location of your fans. You can examine the percentage of your followers that are viewing your page as well as if they have shared or commented on individual posts. With this information, you can measure what interests them most and what time of day is best to post information.
2. Keep in touch with your friends
Most of my business is gained through positive word of mouth. The more I can interact with current and potential customers, the more likely my business will be top of mind when customers are thinking of purchasing custom desserts.
3. Show AND tell
Social media is very visual and I recommend that a majority of your online messages be accompanied by an image that captures the attention of your audience. Most people on social networks have at least 100 online friends who are posting and chatting at the same time. Therefore, your window of opportunity is extremely brief. A compelling photo will be more likely to get their attention and have them stop for a moment before they are distracted and move on.
4. Be supportive and positive - always
No one wants to read a complaint or a post with a negative tone. It's such a let down to your followers. There is never a need to put anyone or anything down. So, like momma always said, "If you can't say anything nice, please don't say it at all.'"
Allow your posts to show your personality and extend positivity to others, even individuals or organizations that you compete with. It's a win-win to help make someone feel great and support what they do. In addition, it will put you in front of additional potential customers.
5. Be true to yourself
Do not compromise who you are as a person when you are marketing your business. I truly believe that everything I deliver - whether it be a Facebook post or a custom wedding cake - is an extension of myself. I feel confident that my online audience wants me to be true to who I am - a mother and friend who is faithful, generous and works hard - someone who really cares about my product and my customers. Your online audience will insist on your honesty. Having a consistent voice and presence in what you do and say is very important to your business.
Best of luck with creating a personal relationship with your online audience!
Milissa Takashima is the owner of Mili's Sweets, a dessert catering and party styling business in San Diego, California. She uses social media to reach out to her captive audience, and works to retain and gain customers with a targeted, personal approach.