6 Social Media Customer Engagement Guidelines Small Biz Should Follow

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Remember in the Pirates of the Caribbean movie when they talked about the “Pirates Code” being more like guidelines than rules? We have something similar in the Social Media world. There are some things that through trial and error we’ve learned you shouldn’t do— unless you want to drive away customers, followers, readers, etc. Not rules, but pretty good guidelines.

Posting is a big one. Don’t over post. Don’t under post. Don’t post irrelevant content. Posting content is what I do for clients, so I do have accumulated experience in this area.

To arrive at the above-mentioned findings, Sprout Social surveyed more than 1,000 Facebook, Twitter and Instagram users to determine what annoys them about brands on social and what drives them to unfollow.

Then the folks at CJG Digital Marketing sifted through the data to produce the following Infographic.

6 Social Media Behaviors to Avoid in 2017 (Infographic) - An Infographic from CJG Digital Marketing

(Embedded from CJG Digital Marketing )

Main thing to absorb is that 2.8 BILLION people use social media. If you are a small business owner or an entrepreneur THOSE are a lot of customers to be ignoring if you aren’t on line— and a lot to be ignoring if you are on social.

To repeat, the six no-no’s that Sprout Social focused on are:

  1. Posting too many promotional messages.
  2. Sharing irrelevant information
  3. Tweeting too frequently.
  4. Using jargon or slang awkwardly
  5. Staying too quiet
  6. Not replying to messages

Think about it and it makes sense. You are on social media not to scream from the rooftops about how good your service or product are. You are here to directly engage with potential customers, not to waste their time.

If you need help with consistent posting of blogs, FB posts or Twitter, feel free to contact me.

Why Use Video for a Small Business Account

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Social Media is a visual medium. Yes, we fill it with words. But pictures, graphics and videos can capture your customer’s attention and drive them to your words on Facebook and website.

Don’t believe me? This is data from “31 Must Know Video Marketing Stats” article that appeared in a recent Social Media Today posting.

Video statsI think the numbers speak for themselves. You can see the entire Infographic on the linked website page.

If you’re handling social media in-house for your small business, not only is quality writing a concern as I have stated in previous blogs, but equally of value is a serious concentration on visuals that connect with where your customer “is” or “will be” when you wish to reach out.

According to the stats, 22% of US Small Biz plan to post a video in the next 12 months. Will you be watching your competition?

( Anthony M. Scialis is an experienced print & broadcast writer who coordinates blog, Twitter & Facebook social media content to create a focused & powerful customer engagement effort which will bridge the gap between the wants of your small business to grow and the needs of your customers to be satisfied. Follow https://twitter.com/amssvs)

Your Blog Intro Paragraph, Setting the Correct Hook

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Introductory paragraphs are fishing trips ripe for disaster; launch yourself using the wrong hooks and lures, and you’ll lose all the fish before you get to the end paragraph.

reelingAn early blog of mine covered this topic and I thought it was time to repeat it for those of you small business owners who are piloting your own blog along the internet waters.

Noted social media influencer Jeff Bullas had recently outlined several literary devices to enhance the enticement and engagement levels of a blog’s first paragraph. I, in turn, shared insights on three of them, based upon my own over 30 years of experience as a print & broadcast writer.

Why not start with a question?

  • I’ve found asking a question to be among the most intriguing openings. By posing a question right away, you drive readers to start thinking; you challenge them to come up with an answer, an answer that lies beneath the waves of paragraphs to come.

Just the facts ma’am

  • On the other hand, years of writing experience have led me to accept statistics and percentages as the most difficult hook, because if done improperly you turn off readers and they swim away. (Bullas dressed this up by suggesting you attribute the facts to a person, thus making the numbers come alive).

To “quote or not to quote”

  • I’ve used quotes as teaser openers in my blogs, articles and columns many times over the years. Find something catchy that your interviewee recounted or advised that relates to your topic in such a way to set the mood, while at the same time “giving away” the sense of what story you are about to tell.

Metaphor.

  • This is an additional option I would suggest; in fact I employed it to kick off this blog. It is a figure of speech in which a word or phrase is applied to an object or action to which it is not literally applicable.

This option, as do all the others mentioned, set the readers off into a thinking mode, anxious to read on.

And that is the goal of the first paragraph, isn’t it?

(Anthony M. Scialis is a social media strategist focusing on blogging & tweeting as a two-step customer service effort in bridging the gap between the wants of your small business to grow and the needs of your customers to be satisfied. Follow https://twitter.com/amssvs)

Be On Fleek, Or Millennials Will Dipset On Your Small Biz

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What? Each generation has its slang, from the 1920s (on the level, on the lam) to the 40s (take a powder, pass the buck) to the 60s (far out, bummed out) to the current 2010s. What is so important about a sub culture’s internal interactions is that social media NOW communicates it back out to the Small Business owner and in a 2.0 society where customers CAN and DO speak directly to retailers, you need to understand what Millennials are saying and feeling.

SarekOr as Ambassador Sarek comments in a Star Trek movie “one cannot answer easily if you don’t understand the question.”

To that end, I discovered an informative post from of all places Inc.com. John Brandon presents a Millennial mini-lexicon of value to small business owners who may be scanning social platforms looking for any mention of their company’s products or services.

  • On fleek
  • Used originally in an Instagram post about eyebrows (yes, the origin stories for these terms tend to be as weird as the terms themselves), being “on fleek” means to be on point. In a business context, it means something was well executed and is worthy of acknowledgment.

So, this is good in reference to your small biz.

  • Dipset
  • I was confused when I heard this one on social media. It means to bail on something–to leave because something is lame. You might “dipset” from a meeting if the topic is boring. If you use this one, let me know if people understand you.

So, this is not good in reference to your small biz.

There are 15 in all. Check out the article for the entire group.

According to a Pew Research Center posting in April 2016 “Millennials have surpassed Baby Boomers as the nation’s largest living generation, according to population estimates released this month by the U.S. Census Bureau. Millennials, whom we define as those ages 18-34 in 2015, now number 75.4 million, surpassing the 74.9 million Baby Boomers (ages 51-69).”

If you were thinking Millennials were just teens glued to their cell phones, stop. They are businessmen and businesswomen. They are moms and dads. And they are your customers. At least they might be if you understand them.

(Anthony M. Scialis is a social media strategist focusing on blogging & tweeting as a two-step customer service effort in bridging the gap between the wants of your small business to grow and the needs of your customers to be satisfied. Follow https://twitter.com/amssvs)

Why Your Small Business Needs Blogs— And Me

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BlogsB2C companies which feature blogs on their websites generate 88% more leads per month than those that do not. This is according to HubSpot, the world’s leading inbound marketing and sales platform. Let that settle in. Businesses which generate blogs about interesting things (along with their services or products) generate 88% more leads per month than competitors that don’t.

Well-thought-out, well-written blogs work because storytelling is a powerful way to attract readers, share information, open the lines of communication to foster engagement, build understanding of potential customer needs and convert these followers into loyal brand ambassadors.

More people looking at your store shelves. More people walking into your restaurant or bar. More potential income.

When I saw that 88% statistic I had a flashback to this line from Independence Day:

10 Years Social(Copyright © 1996 by Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation)

Over the years, I’ve worked in print & broadcast media. People do not buy newspapers for the ads. They buy for the news. People do not listen to radio for the ads. They listen for the music.

In other words, people seek out something that will emotionally engage them.

And I have been saying for years that people are not on social media for the ads. They are there to share and engage, because they want to be emotionally connected. Repeatedly telling them what special you have for today is a disconnect— they may come in, but they are just as likely not to come back. You may have made a sale, but you didn’t convert them into loyal customers and certainly not created an emotional connection to recruit them as ambassadors for your business.

Granted, you want to keep using Twitter as a way of driving people to your website and Facebook pages. Equally so, you need to keep pace with competitors in the Facebook auction space for ads.

But, once you have funneled prospects to your website, then what? A few seconds of looking at ads or a contest. Maybe you hook them, maybe you don’t.

Consider generating two or three blogs a week to balance out your Facebook and Twitter self promotions. Give followers a reason to check back to your website several times a week. Provide some insight on how you do something. Recall a funny incident. Promote a survey. Give some free tips. Comment about something going on in the community.

Convinced, but you don’t have the time to write blogs? You don’t have the editorial skills to cultivate content? That’s where writers (such as myself— full disclosure) can assist you. Prices being charged on various websites range from as little as $5 for a simple blog up to and beyond $1000 for a complex blog.

As a veteran community writer, I’m on the more affordable side of that price bar. If you’re interested let’s talk. Let me help you SHARE information, so you can ENGAGE your readers, UNDERSTAND their needs and CONVERT them into customers.

It’s not about you anymore. It’s about them.

(Anthony M. Scialis is a social media strategist focusing on blogging & tweeting as a two-step customer service effort in bridging the gap between the wants of your small business to grow and the needs of your customers to be satisfied. Follow https://twitter.com/amssvs)

Selecting a Content Writer for Your Small Biz Blog

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If you don’t have the time or skill to write a twice weekly or even weekly blog to entertain & inform the customers who make use of your small business products or services, then you should find the time to select someone who does. There are at least seven steps involved.

As I have said (it’s over there on the left side of the page) “If you operate a small business in the 21st century, you need to ‘be’ on Social Media.”

So how do you select someone who shares your values, your voice, your interests?

But there’s more to it than that. Julia Peterson, a content marketing specialist and a private English language tutor who currently writes reviews at her educational blog AskPetersen.com, and is a contributor to such websites as CollectiveEvolution, FreelanceWrite.About, and Business.com, recently offered some advice.

Providing guest content on Susanna Gebauer’s The Social MS blog, Peterson presented a step by step game plan on how to flesh out a writing “partner”:

  • Experience and Education
  • Availability
  • Price vs. Quality
  • Turnaround Time
  • Interest In Your Topic
  • Diversity of Portfolio
  • Reviews or References

Price is the biggest stumbling block, in my opinion. Whereas many small businesses may “get” that they need to be on social media, they just don’t want to pay for it. Writers can charge $25, $75, $100+ per blog. This is where some small biz fall into the “relative, staffer, college intern” trap.

A word or two of caution; if you decide to give control/responsibility of your small business blogging and tweeting to a staff member or college intern, consider this. While they may excel as self-taught consumers of social media, they are not trained as marketers or customer service strategists.

This is critical, as a small biz operating a brick & mortar store on Main Street America, you need to decide the purpose of your blog. Is it a sales tool? Is it a customer service link? Is it a community public relations effort?

Only then can you determine how you want to rate the return on investment. Increased sales. Increased followers. Increased word of mouth about your business in the community.

Peterson very usefully closes out the article with sources for free lance writers, once you’ve made all your decisions.

(Anthony M. Scialis is a social media strategist focusing on blogging & tweeting as a two-step customer service effort in bridging the gap between the wants of your small business to grow and the needs of your customers to be satisfied. Follow https://twitter.com/amssvs)

Do You Know What “Social Care” Is?

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Social care, simply put, is the combined efforts employers & employees make through social media to care for customers. I would venture to say many small businesses do not practice it. And as such, most of them let opportunities to attract, engage and convert slip by.

social careHootSuite had an insightful article by Dara Fontein, How to Deliver Exceptional Social Media Customer Service  filled with very interesting facts and suggestions relating to social care.

  • 51 percent of consumers said they would give up on a purchase after trying to reach customer service only once. In other words, customer service has become a no phone zone
  • On average, consumers only tell 9 people about a good experience, but they will tell 16 about a negative one. Ouch!
  • And, this is a wake up & smell the coffee item: 50 % of consumers now use social media when seeking/expecting an actual response from a company about a service issue.

Fontein writes “Social care is not only being used by young digital natives, but is consistently utilized across all ages, languages, genders, and income levels.”

So, whether you are on social media or not, customers are and they are talking about you. Social care is a way of measuring how well you are listening and how quickly you are responding to them.

To that end Fontein includes a very informative instructional video on how to monitor multiple search streams involving your brand on HootSuite.

Easy to do you say, for a big operation able to hire a social media team, but what if you are a small business like the one mentioned in a reader comment:

“How would you best manage responding in a timely manner if you don’t have the resources to do so? Many businesses seem to be a 1 person operation.”

My response is that there are social media strategists (gurus, wizards, etc, etc) who provide affordable free lance service, operating in niche areas. For example, as a writer I can contribute with blogs & Twitter engagement. My friend John is a photographer and could assist with Pinterest & Instagram.

As a small business owner you can design & develop your social care plan with such affordable free lance input. Select the social media platforms in which you feel comfortable to handle, and delegate the others.

Learn how to listen; determine when to join the conversations and when not to. It will show that your small business is social and that you care about customers.

(Anthony M. Scialis is a social media strategist focusing on blogging & tweeting as a two-step customer service effort in bridging the gap between the wants of your small business to grow and the needs of your customers to be satisfied. Follow https://twitter.com/amssvs)