Company News

Businesses Must Think Strategically about Social Media

LIBERTY TOWNSHIP, Ohio – The explosion of social media sites over the past decade – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn, to name a few – leaves business owners with the challenging task of reaching potential customers on new and unfamiliar platforms.

And unlike individuals, businesses can’t get by with “selfies” and random postings of cat memes. Approaching marketing on social media requires organization, a coherent strategy and an understanding of available marketing tools, say the professionals behind Palo Creative of Boardman, an advertising and digital media agency.

The Palo team conducted an hour-long presentation Wednesday, “Are Customers and Clients Finding You on Social Media?” at Kravitz Delicatessen. The presentation was part of the “From Bagels to Business” networking lecture series hosted by Score.

There are a few basic things every business should do on social media, says Rob Palowitz, president and CEO. “At minimum, go out and make a profile on all the different platforms that exist,” he says, which includes a basic profile, uploading a photo, company logo and information about location and hours of operation.

Businesses need to be especially cognizant of reviews they receive on social media. Customers who leave negative feedback should be contacted at once, Palowitz emphasizes. “Engage with them immediately and see how you can fix it,” he says.

Once you decide to start blogging or posting on social media, consistency becomes the key to reaching customers. Blog posts that are two years out of date and Facebook timelines that suddenly stop are surefire ways to discourage potential customers, Palowitz says. Professional bloggers are available at reasonable prices for businesses owners who would like to blog but don’t have the time, which is often the case.

Business owners also typically lack time to consistently post on social media, says Jim Komara, digital media director. As a fallback, owners often designate one particular employee for the task of posting on social media, but a much more organized and comprehensive process is needed, he says. “That doesn’t work as well as having an orchestrated plan and a social media plan scheduled out for either the quarter, the half year or the whole year,” Komara says.

Businesses might even designate a theme for a particular week in their social media schedule. “As you’re posting that week, it helps everyone focus their efforts on that theme or topic.” Komara recommends physically printing out social media calendars from Excel, Microsoft Word or a similar program.

When Palo works on a company’s social media strategy, the client often crafts the post and digital media coordinator Nicole Haefke selects the time and targets the appropriate audience for the post. She can also help manage the client’s social media budget. “For every social media calendar you should have a budget,” Komara says.

Social media posts, where appropriate, should be fun and engaging, Haefke says. About one in four posts should be a hard sell. “You don’t want to always be selling everything because people will get tired of that,” she says.

Images, and in particular, moving images and video, are efficient tools to engage audiences on social media. Users are 70% more likely to view and engage with a post containing moving pictures or video, Palowitz says. “When you’re thinking about posting, always try and have some sort of photo or animation,” he says. “Animated gifs are popular and of course, video.”

Instead of posting a photo of a product, a company instead might want to post a video of how the product works, Komara says. Videos are also ideal for investing advertising dollars. “If you have a video, that’s a fantastic place to put your money,” he says.

Advertising on social media, Facebook, in particular, is an effective way to reach new customers. ” Facebook is where a lot of our customers get their best value,” Komara says. Businesses can “boost” posts on Facebook to increase the total number of views. Cost runs anywhere from $8 dollars to $300 dollars per ‘boost,’ depending on the desired number of people you want to reach, or a custom budget can be set.

If a company begins to spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars month advertising on Facebook, they need to take a more targeted approach, Komara says.
“You want to plan your marketing strategy to place ads. Don’t just click ‘boost’ and think it’s going to work great – you want to schedule and place ads.”

Advertising can easily become complicated, and businesses can be overwhelmed if they don’t take the necessary steps. “There’s so many different ways to advertize these days,” Komara says, “that this is the point where you really do need a professional staff person or an agency helping you.”

Komara’s favorite thing about social media is the ability to target very specific audiences. Facebook advertisements can be micro targeted to almost any customer profile. “It’s just different than ‘boosting,’ ” Palowitz says. There are profile builds for individual users, based on sites they’ve visited and searches they’ve made on search engines like Google. This allows marketers to micro target users on social media.

It’s advisable for businesses to avoid controversial topics on social media, which can lead to negative business reviews and offend customers.

“Social media is your friend, but it could also be your enemy,” Palowitz says. “So be careful out there.”

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.