David Dirks Director, Global Market Development Satin Fine Foods, Inc.
The digital world – especially social media - has become a highly effective enabling force in business. In this digital age, you can reach prospects and customers farther than ever before. It allows any business to work without the limitations of geographical boundaries. Each passing generation – whether Gen Z, Millennials or any other Gen version – demand more from their digital tools. From their desktops and laptops its access to the web and instant information. From their tablets and smart phones, it’s on-the-go, 24/7 access to information. Digital platforms like Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram or even your website never have a day off. We live in the age of “always on” marketing and sales efforts.
Social media platforms of any kind can be very effective ways to reach a wider and deeper audience of prospective customers and current customers. From hard won experience I can tell you that the work involved to gain more followers and eventually, customers requires much effort – everyday.
Just putting up a website, Facebook page, Instagram, or Pinterest account is not enough even though that’s what many do. Up goes the social media platform and then the only sound you hear is crickets. Why crickets? Primarily because we under nourish our social media platforms. Social media feeds on content. We invest time to put them up so the world can see them but constraints on our time often limit our ability to build them up and sustain them.
Here are a few critical “must-do’s” if you want to gain a business advantage from your social media efforts:
- Social media success takes time – and much more than you think. Setting up a YouTube channel and providing a few videos is fine but don’t expect it to generate 5,000 subscribers overnight. The challenge with social media today is that there is so much content generated that it’s more challenging to be found. It takes time and consistent effort.
- Be prepared to feed the beast. People need a reason to come back again and again. Providing your followers, prospects and customers with fresh content is a daily event. That said, I have seen too many business people underestimate the time and effort it takes to keep pushing fresh content – pictures, video, or written content – into their social media platforms. The predictable result is that traffic sinks to about zero over time.
- Social media is a two-way street. The real magic of social media in any of its forms is its ability to allow you to not only push content out but to engage your audience at the same time. Posting photos and videos of your excellent cake decorations or other related item’s is great. Finding ways to draw your audience into a discussion where they are sharing their own work, ideas and thoughts is what engagement is all about. Make your audience an active participant to your social media platform. For example, on your Facebook page you can post questions to your audience – or host a “best themed cake” contest. The Satinice.com website or Facebook page is a great example of the kind of engagement necessary to make social media have a positive effect on your business.
- Converting followers to customers takes time and consistent effort. Of the many business owners I’ve worked with over the years, a majority of them jump into social media with unrealistic expectations. Too many believe that the singular goal should be just to convert followers to customers. Surely, some will eventually buy from you. However, social media allows you to draw attention and if you provide fresh, relevant content that’s valuable to them – keep them focused on your brand (yes, you are a brand!). Converting followers to customers is a long-term commitment on your part.
- Don’t over commit. Another common affliction is plunge in headfirst and set up a business page on every social media platform you can find. Better to pick only one or two (more if you can share content between platforms which is common today) that work best in the cake decorating arena and invest your extra time there. Remember, social media is a content consuming beast. Focusing your efforts on fewer social media platforms will provide you with better results in the long run.
By David Dirks, Director, Global Market Development at Satin Ice. He is the author of “The New Marketing Analytics: A CMO’s Guide to Harnessing Traditional & Big Data To Drive Business Results”. Dave can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.