One of the great difficulties in utilizing social media for business is toeing the line between informing and selling. Your online personality should be open and welcoming, informal and engaging. Certainly you may pitch new and existing products and services, but doing so in an overt manner can erode your online following.
Formulate status updates and posts in a manner that encourages discussion and offers an opportunity to promote your business’ products or services. For instance, if you’re selling grass seed, don’t simply link to your product’s page with a simple status update. Use the power of social interaction to drive recommendations. Ask your customers what grass seed has worked best for them; since they’re already following your company, odds are high that they will recommend a variety produced by your brand. This active recommendation creates a brand ambassador for your company that is displayed to the world, and is a much stronger message than one coming from the business itself.
Your business’ online personality can be funny, it can be serious, it can be almost anything but a fire hose of press releases and marketing talk. Social media without interaction is a losing proposition. Take the time to monitor your various channels and respond with a consistent voice that engages and informs. This alone will strengthen your brand’s online identity more than discounts or giveaways.
Be authentic to your followers. Admit mistakes when they happen (and they will) and work proactively to solve issues. Demonstrating to your community your willingness to help a customer find a solution as best you can shows the lengths your business is willing to go to create a satisfied customer experience. As a result, you’ll have a happier customer, and a community that knows your business cares about satisfaction.
Your business’ online identity should be a careful construction of information, engagement, humanity and authenticity. Work hard to create a consistent branding message across all forms of communication and you’ll find your social network growing and business booming.