I worked in commercial signage for a few years and during that time social media was really becoming the next big marketing tool for businesses to use. I saw a lot of marketing companies taking advantage of businesses that didn’t really understand it. A lot of them were charging ridiculous fees and delivered nothing of value to the client. This caused a lot of businesses that wanted to use social media come to the conclusion that it had little to no value. (Which is not the case for most businesses!) Thus I started m6media, a company that was focused on helping businesses understand first what their needs were and then helping them to achieve their goals.

What do you believe the benefits of using social media for a business are? 

I would say the primary benefit is being able to stay in touch with your customers in a natural way. The second benefit is the ability to reinforce your relationship with them over time by providing relevant information that builds your authority and keeps them coming back to you. (I mean who does not want more inbound customers?) Last I would say it’s the opportunity to reach new customers at little to no cost. Also people who convert via social media tend to be more loyal customers in my experience.

What are the common mistakes companies make when building brand awareness on social media?

Some companies honestly don’t understand what a “brand” is in the first place.

When they go on social media a lot of companies think it’s just a platform to scream: “SELL, SELL, SELL! – BUY, BUY, BUY! – GIVE, GIVE, GIVE!”  I can’t begin to tell you how many times as a company we’ve went into a client’s social platform and every other post is ‘Buy this’ ‘Donate to this’ ‘ Give this’  or ‘Sign up for this newsletter’.

It’s like all they want to do is TAKE from their customers and we’re like “NO!” that’s not how social media works; it’s suppose to be social. So I think the biggest mistake companies make in general on social media is that they just use it as a platform to throw their ‘Special of the day’ out. That’s not helpful in building the brand or maintaining a relationship with your customer.

What qualities do you think social media managers should have?

I think they need to be naturally social people themselves. If you stick them in a room full of people they don’t need to be the fly on the wall but the person in the middle of the room shaking hands. They don’t have to be a technical genius; they just need to understand people. At the end of the day that’s what you are doing on social media – You Are Engaging With People! I think if you’re looking for someone to manage social media, whether in-house or a contractor, you want to make sure they understand who your customer base is.  Every little niche and market is different. So they need to understand the product and/or service and they need to understand their target market. (Aka the people you want to reach)

 How do business owners know if their social media campaign is working?

I think in order to know if it’s working or not you first have to set goals up. Often companies start using social media without any quantifiable goals set and just end up frustrated when it doesn’t ‘accomplish’ anything. But when we ask “What was your goal?” often they reply “We don’t know; we did not set a goal” or they will come back with “We want to do ‘more’!” Well unfortunately ‘more’ is not a real definable goal.

I always tell people to set tangible goals, you need to make sure you have a goal to create ROI (return on investment). Some examples:

1)      Say you want to run a Facebook Page Like ad. Set a goal of how many people you would want to ‘like’ the page via the ad.

2)      Say you want to boost a post on your Facebook page. Set a goal of how many interactions you want. It could be something like we want 10 people to like the post and 5 to share it. (Just throwing random numbers)

By setting goals you can clearly show if your social media strategy is working or not.

Another option for the brick-and-mortar businesses in the world is to make your offers redeemable in-store and then track them. For example: Let’s say you want to run a Buy-One-Get sale on a new item you have in your store. Post about it on Facebook and then tell people they have to show this post to redeem the offer. Then if you have a POS system make sure you are tracking how many offers were claimed in your system.

How do you see social media evolving over the next 5 years?

I would love to see someone come up with a better platform than what we have now. One of our followers on Twitter suggested “TwitFace.” It would be a merge of the best things on Twitter and Facebook to come up with the ultimate social network.

On a more serious note, I think it will become more of an authenticator for businesses and organizations. I believe we’re already headed that way.

I think it’s going to be more heavily focused on reviews and recommendations. Today local searches are evolving so fast that map systems like Google maps, Yahoo local, and Bing Local can’t keep up. (In my opinion)  Social media is doing a much better job for the most part of managing location information by making it easily accessible for businesses to update. I think you’re going to see this big shift where social media will play a more dominant role of being an identifier for business services and an authentication system. You can see it heading that way already. I think social media is going to play a big role, almost taking the place of websites in time. I have a few clients who don’t have a website and just use social media – they find this very effective.

Social media is going to continue to grow in its weight and influence on the web.

If you could share one best practice about using social media to grow a business what would it be?

Actionable Offers: Give your users an offer that they can do something with, whether it be walking into the store and showing something or filling out a form on the website to get a ‘freebie’. Make it actionable as well as easy.

What are your favorite social media platforms?

For our company we find Twitter very effective – we’ve actually landed clients off of it. We make a lot of great connections and partnerships through it. In fact I think that’s how we encountered Sendible’s social media management tool.

We now have relationships with people around the world that we wouldn’t have necessarily had without Twitter. But for the brick and mortar businesses in little towns or even big cities Facebook is the primary social media platform just because of its user base. However for some industries networks like Pinterest, Instagram, and even Vine are growing. I would say everyone needs to be on Facebook and from there you need to narrow down what your target market is and where they are actually at. Pretty much everybody’s on Facebook. All the other social networks are a bit more hit and miss depending on your target market.

 

Vishal Pindoriya

Vishal Pindoriya is a social media enthusiast, strategist and writer. He lives in London, England and is particularly interested in the proliferation of social media around the world.

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