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Al's Column: Get the most out of social networking

Jan 4/11; Volume 30/Number 14

By Christine Whittemore

Screen Shot 2016-01-18 at 3.02.36 PMWith today’s consumers visiting different types of social networks, it can be difficult for a retailer to keep a consistent presence across all platforms. Following are some tips to getting the most out of social networking.

  1. Identify your goals for participating in social networks. Will you address customer service concerns? Will you focus on thought leadership around industry issues? Will you focus entirely on building your brand with current and prospective customers?
  2. Be committed to participating in the networks you select. This will ensure you offer quality interaction and content. Social networks are about interacting with people. As with the local Chamber of Commerce or other professional networking groups you join, the more active you are the more value you receive.
  3. Understand your customers and what matters to them.Always try to understand what your customers care about and how they express those interests. Then listen, acknowledge and respond. Online networking and relationship building matter more now than ever so be ready to talk about babies and puppies if that’s what your audience cares about.
  4. Monitor and measure your activities. This will help you determine how well you meet your goals. Analysis will help you understand what kind of content resonates best with your community and which networks send qualified traffic to your website. As nice as large followings are, if they aren’t delivering the results you need they may not be of much importance to your business.
  5. Ask consumers in your store how they found you, where they hang out socially online and what they like to encounter there. Getting this information straight from the source will help you decide where to target your focus.
  6. Gain visibility in search engines. Take a walk in your customers’ shoes. Find out what shows up when someone searches for your company name, category, products and brands. Make sure all of those listings are complete.
  7. Complete a Your Business profile on Google. This listing is important if you have a physical location. It is what shows up in search results with a map for your address and may be the first encounter a customer has with your business. Dress it up with your company information and images, and update it with links to blog content and social media. Regularly encourage satisfied customers to leave reviews.
  8. Decide which social networking personality is true to your business and customers. Each network comes with its own vibe or culture. For example, LinkedIn is the professional network and Facebook is intensely social and personal, while Twitter is more affinity-based and Instagram focuses on visuals.
  9. Invite others in your organization to be involved in social networking for your business. Everyone in your entire organization becomes your brand ambassadors, bringing to life your commitment to delivering an outstanding customer experience. To help introduce the concept, consider developing social media guidelines for your team.

For more information, I will be hosting the Social Media Trends Hub at The International Surface Event. My sessions include “Top Social Media Trends that Will Dominate” on Jan. 20 and “How to Improve Your Website & Online Marketing with Web Analytics” Jan. 21. Visit TISEwest.com to register.