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In my entire adult life, I can honestly say I’ve never had the thought, “I wish I could be in high school again.” Sure, we had a good time fixing up and racing our cars, avoiding studies, and idolizing Dave Matthews Band. But those teenage years were also a bit awkward and full of drama…oh, and then there was Math class, which still gives me nightmares to this day.

I think that social media can be a bit of a nightmare for businesses when they first get started. Even the thought of having a social media account can be terrifying to business owners because, let’s face it, social media and high school have a lot of similarities. It’s an unknown territory with a whole different set of rules, there are popular kids and wallflowers, and there are billions (literally) of people you don’t know.

But, I also think that there are a few ways to quickly acclimate your business to using social media. In this article, I’d like to share 4 ways to take your company from wallflower status to prom king on social media. As for high school, I can’t help you there.

#1 – Make It About Relationships, Not Sales Pitches

Before you start posting on social media, ask yourself this question: How do I use social media personally? Chances are you use social media in the same way as your customers—to talk to and build relationships with other people. You want to take a similar approach with your business’ social media account. Remember to share content that engages your audience, but isn’t too pushy with your services. No one gets on social media to be inundated with sales pitches. Be a friend to your audience and contribute to the social media conversation. That means you’ll need to listen and respond to your customers’ needs or wants.

#2 – Build a Brand Personality

Social media gives your brand a human face and people like doing business with people they know. Social platforms are less formal than your company website, so feel free to adopt a more casual, personable tone on your company’s social media profile.

This comes in handy when your customers get upset. Don’t be afraid of complaints on your page. Instead, respond in a kind and friendly manner. People are less likely to be your enemy when they realize that you are human and make mistakes, too. And, even though a complaint begins negatively, it can have a very positive outcome and create an even more committed follower of your brand.

To effectively personify your brand, decide on your company voice. Are you informative, upbeat, funny, friendly, or a combination? Whatever you decide on, make sure it represents your brand well, and then use your voice consistently. Don’t fluctuate between formal and informal—choose a voice and stick with it. Remember, sarcasm doesn’t translate well on the Internet, so be careful and thoughtful with everything you post.

#3 – Utilize Advertising Features

Facebook in particular has excellent resources for creating ad campaigns. Its demographic options are incredibly specific, going way beyond age and gender. You can target ads toward people who like specific pages on Facebook or work at specific companies, to single or married people, or choose which education or income levels best match your target market. The capabilities are almost endless when it comes to how specifically you can target your ads.

Creating an advertising campaign on social media will not only increase the number of followers to your page or account, but it will also allow you to attract the right followers. By knowing who your target market is and creating an ad campaign that speaks directly to them you will quickly grow your social platforms appropriately.

#4 – Use Feedback to Improve Customer Service

Many brands use social media as their customer service pages, and people who ask questions or report problems get personal answers. Have you ever mentioned a brand online and received a “like” or reply from that brand? It’s a good feeling, and it makes you more likely to recommend that company to your friends. People enjoy being listened to and are more likely to recommend brands with great customer service. So, use social media as a way to help and respond to your customers, and don’t be afraid to ask for their feedback on your products or services.

Case Study: 2015 Cherry Blossom Festival

For the 2015 Festival, one of the Cherry Blossom Festival’s main goals was to engage the 18-32 age demographic in Middle Georgia, and an impactful way to do this was through a social media campaign using the hashtag #EatDrinkBeCherry that promoted 5 Festival events designed for this age group. The Cherry Blossom Festival already had a robust following on Facebook with 14,573 fans. So, when we discussed how to engage this younger audience, part of our plan utilized Facebook advertising, promoted posts, and page management.

Using Facebook advertising, we created individual ads for each event which ran for 2 weeks leading up to the events. These ads were targeted to men and women ages 18-32 living in Macon + 50 miles. Together, the ads reached nearly 150,000 people. A general ad campaign promoting the Festival targeted people of all ages and reached over 100,000 people, resulting in 6,806 page likes.

In addition to creating ads, we promoted 2 Facebook posts per event. Each post reached 10,000 or more people. Promoting a post allows a single Facebook status or photo to be seen by more people, even those who don’t like your page. You set a one-time budget of $5-100+ which determines your post’s reach.

Finally, M&R provided page management which included regular posting that adhered to a customized social media strategy. The Festival received 2,674 organic likes – likes that didn’t come from any form of advertising.

Through ads, promoted posts, and consistent management, the Cherry Blossom Festival page grew from 14,573 likes to 24,053 likes over the course of 2 months and their Festival saw one of the highest attendance in years.

Class Dismissed

Hopefully that wasn’t as boring as high school English. If you’re still awake and want to learn more about social media, we’d love to talk with you. It doesn’t have to be a nightmare for your business. In fact, your social media platforms, if well-used, can attract new customers, educate existing customers, improve your search engine optimization, drive people to your website, and so much more.

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