By Dr Alison Watson, Undergraduate Business Programme Team Leader at Arden University
It is essential that entrepreneurs understand what the key marketing skills are to start building the foundations for a successful business. Businesses often increase the awareness and visibility of their site through the use of social media channels such as Facebook to advertise their products and services, getting friends to share content to create a ‘snowball’ effect which will result in increased exposure.
Social media is a powerful tool, assisting in raising the profile of a business and developing the brand, creating awareness in the mind of the customer. For a business to grow, however, you will need to produce high quality and well managed content that will tempt customers into searching further for products and services.
In addition, an active presence online shows approachability, leading to positive engagement and endorsement from customer reviews. Social media will prove invaluable to understanding what your customers and potential customers think about your business.
However, there are also challenges associated with being socially active online. Negative exposure is difficult to manage and could affect the reputation of the brand. On social media people will leave negative comments about their experiences with an organisation, so how do we manage this?
Unless the posts are abusive, it would be better to keep the reviews visible and provide a professional and timely response to them. This demonstrates to potential customers that their views are important, and issues can be resolved amicably.
Digital marketing is about targeting the right audience; creating eye-catching content, ensuring it is on point and provides the right message; and engaging and talking to customers online.
So, what should an entrepreneur consider when using social media to grow the business and brand awareness?
- Think about the target audience and how best to reach them. For example, a small business selling products direct to customers will be well suited to using Facebook, whereas a start-up consultancy business will benefit more from using LinkedIn
- Work with the skills you and your team have. If you or your team have experience of working on different channels, you can be more creative when advertising via social media
- Know your objectives and ensure the content is clear and customers know what the business is about, the products on offer and services provided. Similar businesses will be offering the same product or service. Make sure your content stands out – keep your message simple and on-point
- Look at competitors’ sites and social media reviews and the types of content they are posting – adapt an approach for your own social media
- Be responsive and engage with potential customers in messages and on posts. Remember social media interaction is constant and needs to be managed
- Approach blog sites appropriate to your industry and actively contribute to them. Some even allow you to publish your own posts