Social Media: The Intern’s Job

Intern

As a small business, you’ve likely had the discussion about creating a presence on Social Media. You know it’s an important function, all your customers and competitors are on Social Media and you need to catch up.

Many small businesses don’t have the manpower or resources to adequately create and implement a Social Media strategy so your solution is often to allocate the responsibilities to the Intern. After all they’re young, they understand how Social Media works and using technology is second nature to them. If the Intern is your solution to Social Media, then you’re making a catastrophic error.

The Intern

Depending on your company and industry, an Intern can be employed to fulfil a number of roles – sales, marketing, customer service etc… The likelihood is that you employed them because they are young, tech-savvy people who can bring creativity with their youthful enthusiasm and ideas.

They’re also inexperienced, unfamiliar with your company culture, your products & services, your customers and suppliers. Many Interns are also paid little or no salary – yet this is the best person within your company to deal with the vital function of Social Media?

The Solution

Before your small business dives into the world of Social Media you must firstly devise a strategy which creates the foundation of a Social Media plan. Your Social Media plan needs to include:

Content Marketing

Devising a Content Marketing strategy starts with deciding on what content to post on Social Media. Create a balance between posting sales-related content and a mixture of content relevant to your industry, company ethos, local communities and information which your audience will find interesting and engaging.  This can be posts from news sources, bloggers, industry experts or market reports.

What time of the day do you post? – Testing, analysing and measuring will answer this question. Try altering the heading of your posts; alter the images used and the content of posts to determine the time of the day your audience engages with your content.

Responses

If your small business doesn’t have defined company values, a company vision and defined culture then create one and quick! Your employees need to share your company vision to act and think in a universal manner. Creating a company culture will result in a specific tone and language being used which will be the voice of your company.

Processes & Integration

Social Media is one of the most powerful Marketing tools available to small businesses, but is more successful when integrating a range of business functions including customer service, HR and strategic management.

Whoever you decide to lead Social Media within your company, part of their role should be to define the processes involved and to liaise with a range of departments. Hold weekly/monthly meetings with staff from different business functions and establish the processes required. Who deals with specific enquiries? How should your company respond to sales enquiries?

Identifying the people and processes required to manage Social Media is essential, and always ensure those processes result in the ability to respond quickly (within 24 hours) to any enquiries or queries. Although one single person is able to co-ordinate Social Media activities, it requires the involvement and commitment from the heads of the respective departments.

Employing an Intern to handle your companies Social Media activities can only be successful if adequate time, finance and manpower is committed.  Interns aren’t the solution, commitment and strategic thinking are 🙂

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6 Tips on how to Integrate your Social Media Strategy

Strategy-Small

If your Small Business is active or considering being active on Social Media, then start by ensuring you integrate your strategy. Embed Social Media into wider organisational strategies, business functions and processes.

By integrating your Social Media strategy you can connect with your prospects & customers across a variety of touch points in the customer journey.

1) Integrate Social Media with wider Marketing & Organisational Strategies

Social Media should not be used as a stand-alone strategy and must be integrated with your wider Marketing and organisational objectives.

Involve employees from all levels to use Social Media across a range of business departments to help achieve wider organisational objectives.

2) Integrate Social Media Accounts

Link all your Social Media accounts to each other to suit the individual preferences of your market. Let your customers find you on the Social Media platform they prefer to use – be part of their journey.

3) Integrate Offline & Online Marketing

Include your Social Media details on all forms of offline Marketing such as:

• Magazine & Newspaper advertising
• Leaflets, Brochures, Flyers
• Business Cards
• Direct Mail
• Radio advertising

All offline Marketing must include your main website and main Social Media accounts, leverage the Facebook or Twitter brand to appeal to your customers.

By integrating Social Media with other digital and offline Marketing you are able to connect with customers at a variety of touch points gaining maximum exposure and brand awareness.

4) Integrate Social Media with company Processes

Make Social Media a daily activity – Spend at least 45-60 minutes a day checking your comments, new followers, engaging and posting fresh material. If possible dedicate as much time as possible to Social Media activities – it’s addictive and time-consuming.

By dedicating time in your daily schedule you’ll reap more rewards than merely playing around for 10 minutes a day.

5) Integrate Social Media with email Communications

Add Social Media buttons or links into your company email signature. For those people who prefer not to communicate frequently by email, Social Media may be their preferred choice of communicating – make it easy for your company to be found.

6) Integrate Social Media with your Website

People will spend more time on Social Media than they do browsing your website. Include Social Media buttons and/or widgets making it easy for people to follow your company.

Also include a link to your website on every single Social Media platform you have an account with. By directing people back to your website, you’ll be more in control to lead the customer from interest to sale.

It’s important to integrate your Social Media strategy otherwise it’ll lack direction and is fundamentally flawed. Realise the full potential of Social Media by embedding your strategy into different departments, processes and wider strategies.

Do you feel like you’re just bumbling along with your approach to Social Media?

10 Steps to Social Media Sales Success

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Can Social Media Marketing lead to Sales? – YES!

Unlike traditional/online advertising where an immediate sale is sought, Social Media Marketing requires the commitment of time and the ability to nurture relationships with individuals.

Social Media can be used like a “sales funnel” to help guide prospects from initial contact to the end sale by following these 10 simple steps:

1) Identify

Build up a list of potential targets by using the search functions in the various Social Media platforms. Target people based on their location, age and interests to help build an audience of relevant and interested followers.

2) Post

Refrain from posting only sales-orientated content by sharing blogs and articles from external sources that provide rich content which adds value in some way to your audience – Give them something for free – Interesting, Relevant & Engaging Content.

3) Like/Follow

Follow & be followed. If you’ve implemented steps 1&2 correctly then people will follow you because you’re relevant to their needs & interests. Once prospects have liked or are following your company you’ve got them – Don’t let them go!

4) Ask Questions

If your company is able to solve problems experienced by your audience then you have a higher chance of converting the sale by satisfying their needs & demands.

Ask your audience questions – ask them what problems they experience, what they like/dislike about certain products/services. How do you know what your customers want if you don’t ask them?

5) Engage

This is where the magic of Social Media happens – 2 parties engaging and being social. Ensure that any communications are 2-way – people are tired of 1-way Marketing communications. Keep asking questions and seek clarity where customers have sought answers from you. Be friendly, approachable & social.

6) Offer

You’ve engaged with your customer, established what their needs are and overcame their uncertainties – Now it’s time to introduce your own products/services.

Never make an offer generic, make your offer relevant and personal and make the customer feel like you understand them and their needs.

7) Signpost

To facilitate the sale it is recommended to lead the customer away from the Social Media platform and to your main company website. On your website you’re in more control and can start to signpost your customer towards their preferred sales channel – Do they want to buy online, by telephone or in your shop? Signpost customers to the sales channel of their preference.

8) Enquiry

You’ve made a relevant offer to the customer, lead them to your website – but they won’t buy just yet.

The customer will want to know more information about your products/services – How much does this cost? Does the offer fit my exact needs?

9) Inform

One of the most common reasons for failing to convert an enquiry into a sale is the customer has doubts or unanswered questions.

You know this individual so tell them the benefits of your products/services according to their needs. Don’t tell them about the wonderful features or technical aspects – tell them how your offer can BENEFIT them.

10) Convert – SALE!

So many people are scared to sell, you don’t want to be seen as pushy – but all you need to do is ask for the sale.

Do you want to buy 1 egg or 2?

That’s £500 in total – Do you want to go ahead?

Simple questions – Just ask.

If the customer doesn’t commit then return to step 9 and overcome their objections.

And there you have it 10 simple steps to Social Media Sales Success.

What problems has your business encountered when trying to sell on Social Media?

7 Key Elements in a Social Media Strategy

SocialMedia Strategy

Social Media is a fantastic Marketing & Communications tool for business but the truth is – Social Media won’t work for your Small Business unless you have a strategy.

Many Small Businesses set up Social Media accounts, send sales-related posts and expect the magic to happen. Fumbling in the dark isn’t a good strategy so here’s a guide on the 7 most important strategic elements in Social Media:

1) Be Social – The Golden Rule

People communicate on Social Media for one simple reason – to be social with their friends and family. Make Social Media a 2-way communication channel and engage in conversation – if you apply the golden rule of being social then building credibility & trust will follow.

2) Set SMART Objectives & Measure Results

As with any strategy setting objectives is the 1st place to start, set objectives using the SMART framework:

SPECIFIC MEASURABLE ACHIEVABLE REALISTIC TIMEBOUND

Setting Objectives is the easy part – achieving them is the real challenge.

Measure ROI – But consider other factors such as engagement, virility, credibility, trust and long-term added value which are all difficult to measure in a monetary context.

3) Build 1:2:1 Long-Term Relationships

Small Businesses have the potential to compete with larger rivals if you focus on this element of your Social Media Strategy. Give customers the focus and attention that larger rivals will struggle to replicate such a bond.

Converting a Social Media prospect into a sale takes time to come to fruition, so if you’re looking for a quick fix – Social Media isn’t for you.

4) Dedicate Time

Sorry, but there’s no avoiding this – You MUST dedicate time to Social Media to make it a successful strategy. Checking your accounts for 10 minutes in the morning & evening is enough to maintain your Social Media presence only at a very basic level. You really need a minimum of 1-2 hours a day and more if possible.

Get your employees involved in your Social Media strategy and if you can’t dedicate the time then outsource and get outside professional help.

Jenn Herman wrote an excellent article on this very topic, check it out at – The Cold Hard Truth: Social Media Takes Time

5) Match the Platform to your Target Market

Who are your customers? What is their typical age, location, interests and habits?

Ask your prospects and customers what Social Media channels they use then establish a presence on the channels most likely to be used by your target market.

6) Share and be Shared

If you want other people and companies to share your posts then you must share others in return. Sharing other sources of information provides richness to the content you provide your audience and will encourage others to also share your material.

7) Follow and be Followed

If you follow the 1st 6 steps then people will want to engage with your company and follow you back in kind. Like it or not vanity plays a large part in Social Media and people (me included) want to have a high volume of followers. Just make sure quantity does not overshadow quality of followers.

The main takeaway here is to always have a formal strategy in place before embarking on your Social Media journey.
What works for you on Social Media or what problems do you encounter?