Getting the word out about your business is essential to success. But reaching today’s customers is more challenging, with so many different media available. Businesses can’t simply pay for an ad in the yellow pages or hang a banner on a storefront to bring in mass consumers. Today, businesses must communicate with customers online.
In many cases, the customers you’re seeking are on social media, but with so many sites, it’s impossible for a busy professional to keep up. Here are a few things you can do this summer to maximize your social media efforts.
Host a Summer-Themed Campaign
For many types of businesses, summer provides the opportunity to find fun ways to connect with customers. Children are out of school for the summer and parents are looking for something fun to do. Some businesses can capitalize on this by having special events to attract families, but even organizations geared toward grown-ups can launch fun summer specials. If your business is air-conditioned, you can invite customers to “beat the heat with these great deals.” A service-oriented business can remind customers that summertime is a great time of year to take care of annual maintenance on HVAC systems or start regular pest control services.
Hire a Student
For older children and young adults, summer means time to gain valuable job experience to build a powerful resume. For a low fee, you can usually find a high school or college student to help super-charge your social media presence. Many of these younger workers relish the idea of spending an entire summer on Twitter or Instagram and they likely grasp the technology better than most of the employees working in your organization. On the business side, it’s important to find a social media intern who will be as effective as possible in building your brand over the summer. This may involve going beyond simply hiring a friend of a family member and initiating a full search, utilizing the marketing departments of nearby colleges. When interviewing, study the potential intern’s communication style to ensure you have a professional candidate who will be able to perform responsibly, using mature, workplace-friendly language. Tweeting as a college student is quite different from tweeting as a career social media marketer.
With so much text on people’s newsfeeds, a photo or video stands out. Instead of telling your followers about a great new product or service, show them by uploading a high-quality photo. Make sure the visual content matches your summer theme, utilizing bright, vivid colors and images that are synonymous with “summer” in many consumers’ minds. This could be anything from your staff in Hawaiian shirts and sunglasses to a picture of a large, refreshing beverage sold at one of your locations. Video is another way to connect with your audience, especially now that services like Vine and Instagram video have made it easy to shoot and post short video snippets. Use video to show off new products or introduce customers to your staff at the office luau to make your customers feel as though they are getting the behind-the-scenes view of operations.
Hold a Contest
Take advantage of an upcoming holiday or the back-to-school frenzy to host a fun contest with a prize to the winner. Ideally, the contest will encourage shares and likes, broadening the reach of your campaign even further. Visual contests are especially effective, since they encourage your customers to share photos of your brand with their own online followers. An ice cream shop could ask customers to snap a photo of themselves enjoying one of your treats, for instance, and share it online for a chance at the top prize. The more lucrative the reward, the more participation the business will likely have. Don’t just give away a free food item. Give away free food for one lucky winner for the entire summer or a hefty cash prize or a trip to Disney World. While the opportunity to be featured on your website or social media account is enticing to some people, for maximum participation they’ll need the hope of a big payout at the end.
Conduct a Survey
Either before or after launching a new item, hold a survey to ask what customers think. You could also deploy a survey on your existing items. While your customers may assume your contest is merely an effort to get feedback, your main purpose should be customer engagement. A poll makes consumers feel as though their opinions matter, increasing loyalty and giving them a stake in your success. Once the poll is complete, post the results and announce the changes you will be making as a result of customer votes. If you asked for a favorite new item to add to the menu, for instance, offer a coupon to your online users to come in and try it out during the first month or two after its debut.
Form a Partnership
Small businesses generally feel challenged to reach new customers, since they’re still trying to become an established part of the business community. Research other small organizations in the area and locate one that makes sense as a partner for your company. Local restaurants could easily benefit from joining forces with a bakery, which could provide fresh-baked desserts or bread each day in exchange for signage acknowledging the bakery in the store. This partnership could extend to the online environment, with both establishments inviting locals to come into the restaurant and try out the desserts. Since each restaurant has its own customer base, this will increase the reach of the message exponentially.
Services like Triberr can help you identify social media users with a large online audience base in your niche. Using social media platform, brands can increase their reach by locating other users who share their interests. The platform encourages bloggers to become brand ambassadors, making it a great place for businesses to get the word out about their services. Over time, brands can build and nurture long-term relationships with some of the top influencers online today.
As you head into summer, you have a great opportunity to promote your brand and jumpstart your online reputation. Take advantage of the change in customer routines to encourage them to try your product or service by learning to leverage the power of social media.