Running your own business can be exciting, stimulating and rewarding, but at times it can also seem like a nightmare. Many small-business owners find themselves doing several jobs within the company at once, and take on recruitment, marketing, and customer service roles, all while trying to run the business as a whole.
Of course, this can be exhausting. It’s also difficult to manage. That’s why it’s crucial that you make the process as easy as possible for yourself, and one way of doing that is by using social media. By establishing and maintaining a presence on multiple platforms, you can save money and time on recruitment, customer support, and marketing. Here’s how:
A well-established online presence can be leveraged to recruit candidates without spending a thing. Over 90% of employers now use social recruiting, so you’re in good company. Social networks like Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin can provide access to millions of potential employees, even when you’re not actively hiring.
- Create a company profile on LinkedIn, post job openings, and contribute to industry discussions.
- Be safe — to avoid discrimination claims, never add candidates as Facebook friends.
- Consider adding a “Careers” tab to your Facebook page.
- Post a recruitment video on YouTube. A good recruitment video can go viral, earning you free publicity and plenty of candidates.
- Use the hashtag #hiring to advertise positions on Twitter. For more hashtags you can use, check out this list.
In this day and age, what other people say about your brand matters more than what you say about your brand. Of course you’re going to sing your praises — you’re trying to sell. However, people with no vested interest (like Yelp, Facebook, and TripAdvisor reviewers) have no reason to be anything but honest, and that’s what makes their opinions so credible. Millennials in particular prefer word-of-mouth recommendations to traditional marketing, which is good news for businesses who can’t afford an expensive marketing campaign.
- Learn how to grow organic reach on your Facebook page and make EdgeRank work for you.
- For free exposure, spark online conversation and encourage participation. Ask questions, get people to send in their images, or reward users for sharing their stories. If a user comments on your Facebook page, the post will show up in all their friends’ feeds — and you’ll benefit from increased reach.
- Make your posts shareable. Images get shared far more often than text posts, so include a high-quality picture where possible.
- Use social media to drive traffic to your website, collect sign-ups for your mailing list, and offer exclusive coupons to customers.
- Communication is a two-way street, so you don’t just want to be talking at your followers. Engage in conversations, start your own, and share or retweet other people’s content.
- Set up a Google+ business page and link it to your website. A “local business” page allows you to collect reviews (which show up in searches) whereas a “business” page will not. If you verify your page, Google will index your website faster, and when somebody searches for your company, your details will appear down the right-hand side. Like this:
Email customer-service can be time-consuming, and telephone customer-service limits you to helping one customer at a time. Using social media, you can hold real-time conversations with several customers at once. You should already be using social media for marketing (and recruitment, if you’re hiring), so this won’t be as much of a drain on your resources as other methods of customer support might.
- If a customer asks for assistance via Twitter, get them to follow you. This way, you can exchange direct messages with them and ask for more (or private) details. Bonus? You get an extra Twitter follower!
- Respond publicly to complaints and queries on Facebook. This way, more than one person can benefit from your answer, and you can combat negative feedback with apologies and explanations. That said, you should never get defensive or lose your cool.
- Don’t feed the trolls. If somebody posts offensive or aggressive content on your Facebook wall, make a decision to respond calmly and politely (as you would to any other customer) or to delete the post entirely. You can correct users who are misinformed, but never enter into a dialogue with somebody who is trying to provoke you.
- Make the most of crowd support. Customers can help each other, and often they will — people like to show that they’re well-informed, and will often jump at a chance to share their knowledge with those who are having trouble. When this happens, take time to thank the helpful party. A little acknowledgement goes a long way in building a loyal fan-base.
How has social media helped your small business? Do you use it for marketing, recruitment, customer support, or all three? Feel free to share your tips in the comments!