At this point, every SMB owner has heard that their business needs a social media presence. You’ve probably been told again and again that you “need to be on Facebook” or your business “has to have Twitter.”
However, very few business owners know what they should expect from these platforms in terms of results. Often, they’ll tell us, “Social media is just a message board full of cat pictures and complaints. Is there any real value to these platforms?”
Too often, businesses will give up on their social media presence because they lack a clear set of expectations. This is kind of like playing bingo without a card — how do you know what results you’re generating if you haven’t set any goals? Read on to learn more about the type of results you should expect from your social media presence and what to do if you aren’t seeing those outcomes.
What Results can Social Media Generate?
There are four areas in which your social media marketing efforts should be providing demonstrable results:
Building Your Brand: Social media offers a direct channel for building your brand and acquiring new, relevant followers and audiences in your specific service area.
Encouraging Customer Engagement: Once those followers have been acquired, social media channels are ideal for building engagement and gaining insight to customer needs.
Generating Inbound Traffic: Your social channels should leverage your website and dynamic content (like your blog) to drive traffic to your site, which can eventually convert into a purchase.
Customer Service and Retention: Customers inevitably will express advocacy or voice complaints on social media (particularly Twitter). By monitoring and managing your reputation on these platforms, you’ll naturally engage with and retain a higher percentage of customers.
When all is said and done, social media offers limitless opportunities for identifying customers’ specific purchase paths and creating avenues that ultimately will result in increased revenue. It all begins with understanding the capabilities of these platforms and setting realistic goals to ensure your social media presence is yielding a reasonable ROI for your efforts.
How can Business Owners Tell if They’re Getting Results?
In order to see results, you need to listen. Paying attention to what people are saying is just as important as putting your own message out there. Start by listening for customer feedback, particularly customer complaints, and listen for brand advocacy. These are the easiest opportunities to engage with customers and start a conversation. If you show that you’re listening and find solutions to their issues, then you’re more likely to retain them and project a better image for your company.
Mature social advertising platforms like Facebook, Linkedin, and Twitter also will have analytics platforms available for evaluate the hard data. More advanced users may even look at conversions and other aspects of attribution modeling to get a real sense of measurable ROI from these platforms. But you at least should be seeing steady, monthly growth in fans or followers, engagement, reach, impressions and website traffic. If your social media presence isn’t delivering consistent results in the form of those metrics, then you may need to re-evaluate your tactics.
What can Businesses do if They Aren’t Seeing Results?
If you aren’t seeing engagement, then you first need to reevaluate the platforms you’re using. Some platforms lend themselves to different industries better than others. We mostly recommend Facebook, the platform formerly known as Google+, and Twitter for home service industries — that is, unless you have a lot of original, authentic photography and creative ideas to leverage in channels like Pinterest and Instagram. And if you offer commercial services, there may be some opportunities available in Linkedin as well.
The challenge with social media is that it’s a long-term game. Your accounts need to be monitored daily, and Facebook even allows customers to see how quickly a business responds. Your audience will notice if you’re not engaging, and won’t bother sticking around. Even if you are generating traffic, ask yourself, is it relevant? If you’re bringing a bunch of people to your site who don’t live in your service area, for example, then you’re wasting your time and theirs.
Start small with your social media presence and grow it methodically. If you’re demanding results from too many different platforms, then you could fail to build a meaningful audience and/or spread your resources out too thin. Focus on creating a strong community on one or two platforms, and then branch out to the ones that make sense for your business and vertical.
The LeadBuilder® social consulting team has the necessary experience to get real results for your local home services business. Our social consulting services are available either as part of a holistic Internet marketing package or as a standalone service. Let us leverage our expertise on your behalf, and we’ll get started generating measurable outcomes from your social media presence.