September 24, 2012

Social media for small businesses – Part II

Social Media

More of your social media for small businesses questions answered.

Someone posted a negative comment on my business’ social media page. Should I delete it?

No. Deleting negative comments does more harm than good. Instead, think about the most common customer complaints towards your business and develop a general response to each. If a negative post appears, take the appropriate general response and tailor it to specifically address the complaint. Additionally, get the conversation offline. Offer to resolve the issue through another medium; propose a direct customer service phone number or email to the unhappy customer. Finally, always respond promptly. Whether the complaint is real or imagined, an unanswered negative post signals poor customer service. If that same disgruntled person persists in posting negative comments, you may then delete or block the user.

I can’t spend my whole day on social media. How often do I have to post?

While you don’t need to post excessively, if you are taking the social media plunge, you must keep your Facebook page or Twitter handle active or risk losing your audience. At minimum, try to post once every couple of days. And there is help out there for the busy small-business owner. Sign up for a social media dashboard like HootSuite or TweetDeck. These sites allow you to plan out posts in advance. You can schedule your whole month to ensure you don’t have any significant gaps. Unless you have more than a handful of social media platforms, most of these dashboard sites are free. Just so you cover all your bases, there is even research on what time of day is best to post. Remember, stay on top of checking comments by others and responding promptly. Shoot for once per day.

How can I tell if social media is reaching customers?

If you’re going to invest serious time in social media, of course you want to see a payoff. If you are offering gift certificates and daily deals from a site like Yelp, you will see the evidence at the register. To track visitor activity on platforms like Facebook and Twitter, online monitoring tools make it easy to track your social media reach and effectiveness. Find out how many visitors, mentions, shares and followers you’ve gained. To track your progress over time, set the monitoring site to email you on a weekly and monthly basis. HootSuite, TweetDeck and Google Analytics all provide monitoring capabilities. Some features are free; additional measurements can be added for a monthly subscription fee. For a comparison of the more robust (and expensive) sites, start here.

Businesses use social media platforms for a variety of purposes. Whether you use your platforms to publicize events, entice customers with deals, handle customer service issues, or share photos and videos, take some time to learn about the different social media sites. Don’t be shy; check out other businesses. What do the best platforms look like both inside and outside your industry?

Every small business is unique. You want to give yourself the best road map, so do your homework and choose the most logical platform(s) for your business.

Looking for more resources? Here you go:

Social Media

Small Business Social Media