Last week we talked about the importance of communicating effectively with your customers on mobile devices. Today, we’re focusing on other important places in which customers interact with brands: Facebook and Twitter.

According to the US Bureau of Labor, the average adult spends 3.6 hours per day on their social networks – 3.6 hours! That’s more than they spend watching TV (2.8 hours), or reading (ranges from 7 minutes to one hour per day). Lest you think it’s the under-25 crowd skewing the results, the average time spent on social for the 35-49 age group is 3.1 hours, and only drops a bit to 2.8 hours for those over 50. The point is, your customers and potential customers spend a lot of time on social media. So, your business should be there too.

But guess who’s not there? Possibly your competitors. According to Pitney Bowes, only 17% of small businesses use social media, giving you an opportunity to reach audiences that your competitors may not.

Using social media for your business may sound intimidating, but it’s an effective, low-cost marketing tool. The frequent communication social media allows helps build relationships with your current and potential customers. By it’s very nature, social media posts have a short shelf life (due to the influx of posts on a scrolling news feed), so you need to post more often than you might send emails.

Don’t know what to post on social? You likely already have a lot of content you can re-use. Do you have a newsletter with several articles? Post one every few days. Having a sidewalk sale at your store? Post some pictures of your items and a special offer. Want to be seen as a source of information? Post an industry statistic or link to an interesting article. You can also ask questions that engage and get conversations flowing.

Email and social together is a powerful combination. We’ve found that our VerticalResponse customers who promote their email on Facebook or Twitter get a 28% higher open rate. In our new product coming later this year, you’ll be able to create both your emails and social posts in one place, using one intuitive tool. We know you’re pressed for time, so you’ll  even be able to create them ahead of time, when it’s convenient for you, and use a calendar to plan out your schedule. No more scrambling at 11 pm the night before you want your sale email or newsletter to go out, or trying to remember to send a Tweet at 2 pm. Oh, the freedom!

If you’re new to social media marketing, here are a few dos and don’ts to help you get started:

  • Don’t feel that you need to have a presence on every social network. Concentrate your efforts on the networks that make the most for your business. Usually Facebook is a good place to start. You can then explore Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Google+. We’ve got helpful guides to help you get started with each of them here.
  • Don’t be too overly salesy. Your goal is to build relationships and get conversations going.
  • Do respond to activity. “Like” comments, respond to comments, retweet, etc. This will help keep your business front and center with your audience.
  • Do measure your results, so you can do more of what’s working. You can easily get all kinds of info from Facebook Insights, like who “Likes” your page and what kind of content they respond to.

Want more info? Check out our tips for getting started, and our free eBook, the Definitive Guide to Social Media Marketing.

© 2013 – 2018, Contributing Author. All rights reserved.

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