Meryl Snow written for Catersource Magazine
I know what you’re thinking—another article on social media? But read on…there are some things you may not know.
Social media is a viable tool for marketing your products and services, and managing your brand identity. It is inexpensive, easy to work with, and offers a great network of potential clients. Social media is all about conversation and building effective relationships. Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Instagram (among others) are all avenues to sell your company’s products. Social media is powering the world in ways we could never have imagined years ago. Today, connections are formed out of thin air. Imagine the millions of people that use social networking applications daily. Did you know that 22 percent of Americans use social media multiple times in a single day? Selling your company in today’s competitive market involves a savvy use of these resources. There are tons of social media applications and websites available; however, there is also a need to choose carefully before investing your time and energy. You should invest in a platform that supports your brand image.
Facebook remains the best platform for creating brand awareness—its user base is diverse and nearly 75 percent of adults use it. Tell me, how then is this not a wonderful channel through which you could build your brand and sell it to the world? Setting up a Facebook page isn’t enough, however. It needs to be interactive, drive conversation, and promote your brand all at the same time. If you only promote your products and services you will lose viewers. Try adding interesting tidbits: for example, a blurb about the history of pasta. To encourage conversation, you could post trivia and questions like, “when you were growing up, what was your favorite comfort food?” How about a category for each day of the week:
Monday – “Foodies, Can You Guess This?”
Tuesday – “What’s Happening in the Kitchen Today?”
Wednesday – “Recipe of the Week”
Thursday – “Event of the Week” and so on.
Endeavor to provide your followers with something that piques their interest and that they can also share to other people.
There is also the option of Facebook group or business (fan) pages. Business and fan pages let you measure your traffic. With fan pages, you can add feeds from other applications like YouTube Box, Flicker, and Twitter. For Facebook groups, you don’t have that many options. When your fans take action on your page, their actions will be documented on the news feeds of their personal pages. Their friends could see the news feeds and check out your business page. Fan pages stand out on profiles, whereas group pages get lost in the mix. Fan pages enable you to provide unlimited news or updates, while Facebook groups are limited to a definite number.
Businesses, especially those that rely heavily on images, have lately have been flocking to Instagram in droves, and rightly so—because Instagram allows you to sell your company by posting images and short videos. While many companies have difficulty getting relevant content, we are very fortunate. Everyday there is a new event to capture. I am lucky that my company has a professional photographer at most of our events. Make sure when posting to give the photographer credit.
Pinterest is a terrific social network, allowing you to reach people through their specific interests. When setting up your business page, make it easy for visitors and name your boards: Culinary, Design, Cocktails, Weddings, and for each photo make sure you add descriptive words so it can continue to be “re-pinned”—shared, that is. Video sharing services like YouTube allow you to add captivating videos of your products and services. When using YouTube, make sure you properly brand the beginning and end of your video with contact information.
Blogs & email
Blogging is also a wonderful way to sell your brand, as search engines easily pick them up. Start a blog that is attached to your Facebook and website. Platforms such as WordPress and Joomla make it easy to promote yourself to your target audience. On these platforms, you can post about topics that will pique the interest of your audience and they will find educational, while at the same time highlight your unique skills and experience. Did you know that blog posts with images receive 94 percent more views? Don’t be afraid to make use of visual content.
Email marketing is also very beneficial. You can send an email blast teaser to direct people to your Facebook, blog, or website. Another way—add link icons of your blogs, Facebook pages, Instagram, and Twitter accounts to your email signature and all Internet direct mail.
Keep in mind that people who post on your Facebook page, tweet about you, or comment on your blog want to be heard. It is extremely important that you engage with your social community and answer or comment promptly. With building your brand on social media, you should be careful who is representing your brand. Your employees play a big part in brand management and will need to be screened. This is important with all social network sites. Every single piece of content shared should support your brand identity. Poor choices of content and bad images tend to reflect poorly on your company. Set guidelines for your team to follow, suggest different accounts for business and personal, and encourage them to play an active role in the company brand strategy. The old expression, it’s not what you know; it’s who you know holds true in this new age marketing strategy.
Continue to tweet, blog, and post—and watch your efforts flourish.