Social Media – what’s it all about and should I be using it?
Social media, whether your tech savvy or not, is well and truly part of today. The ability to communicate with your friends, favourite celebrities, brand or band all at the click of a button is quite a remarkable prospect. But is it right for your business?
The simple answer is heck yes. As a business you will have day to day pieces of information that you want to distribute to your target audience however traditional methods of marketing and PR can take too long to organise. Maybe the information you have doesn’t quite fit a press release, maybe it can’t be summed up in a print advert? Or maybe your budget just won’t stretch to cover what you want to tell the world? Social media is this vital tool that can give your business an instant voice that has instant access to the world’s inbox. This voice if managed well can grow into a personality that will be able to speak to your customers and give them that personal service or message that they can interact with at their ease. It is this interaction that is invaluable as you will be able to talk to your target audience and build real-time conversations with them directly, which is something you can’t get from other traditional media approaches.
In an attempt to help electricians get online and begin/continue to use these social media platforms I will be writing a range of ‘how to guides’ with an aim of demystifying these sites and reveal how they can work for you.
There are now hundreds of social media platforms that you can use to further your message online. However I will be focusing on what I think are the main ones; twitter, facebook, google + and linked in.
Firstly, let’s talk about Twitter.
Twitter is an information network that allows millions of users to share information in the form of short 140 character messages. Messages are sent instantly to the public and anyone can reply, share your ‘tweets’ helping you to further your message online. Twitter helps you to reach people or brands that you wouldn’t normally be able to contact first hand. What’s more, 9 times out of ten you actually find that someone has already begun a conversation about your business on twitter, so it’s good to get involved and see what’s being said!
In order for you to understand how twitter works, you will need to get on board with the kids and learn the lingo. Here are some of the terms that surround twitter as some of you may not be familiar with the art of tweeting. Well tweeting is how you describe a conversation on twitter. For example: ‘I am speaking to John’ in twitter language would read ‘I am tweeting john.’
Like the phrases speaking, speak and spoken we have tweeting, tweet and tweeted.
• Followers – your followers are people that have subscribed to your username and want to be updated with the information you send out. Trade Skills 4U’s followers mostly include professionals in both the electrical and renewable energy industry that want to know about our company, our news and our training.
• Following - you too can subscribe to people so you can see what they write all the time. We follow our certification bodies, our customers plus a range of industry news sites so we can keep on top of any news or products that will be able to benefit our followers and/or our business.
• Mention – in order to tweet a particular person you have to put an @ symbol before their username (you will have set up your username when you registered) You can track who you have spoken to in your account and see what other people have been saying to you here too.
Mentioning someone is the main part of twitter and is how you engage with others online. As a business you could say ‘thanks for training with us @chloecharlottex’ and as a customer you might in turn say ‘I had a great experience @Tradeskills4u, I will be recommending you.’
If you see a comment that you like a lot you can ‘favourite’it, which pretty much means you’re saving it and filing away in your account so you can see it again. If you followers favourite your tweets – good job – this will mean you’re sending the right tweets to the right people.
• Retweet – If you see something online that you like or you want to share you can click ‘retweet’ which is a button that will forward that information to your followers instantly. @Tradeskills4u tends to retweet industry news and funny comments we come across that might make our followers laugh.
• Message – Tweeting doesn’t always have to be public. You can privately message members by beginning your tweet with DM or D. For example ‘DM @Tradeskills4u When is my 17th Edition course?’
• Hashtag- In order to help others see your tweets and promote your conversation; you might want to include a hashtag which looks like this ‘#’. Hashtags help categorize your comments which will help you to gain followers. For example ‘Check out our offer of the week #discount’
Not only are you able see what people are saying about you and your company, but you can share your latest information to help others make the right choices for them. Twitter is a great way of showing and growing your company presence and helping others find you online. Users generally want to follow brands or companies for a range of reasons. Check out the graph below.
Another advantage for the small businessman is that you can offer unique offers and be able to act fast in implementing them too. If you search ‘electrician’ and spot a user saying “I wish my light switch was closer to my bed! So annoying!” You can tweet them and offer to do the job for a great price.
When you join, you will have the urge to begin firing off random tweets, however the first lesson is to listen. Follow a couple of people who are relevant in your industry and watch how they behave online. They might tweet offers of the week ( like us) which might be really successful or be uploading pictures of their finished work which might attract lots of customers – either way it’s important to listen first and learn from others.
Whilst it is important to listen first to gain some inspiration, it’s also important to be yourself. By talking to people online in real time you will naturally adopt a casual style of writing as everyone tends to leave their formal language in the office. Casual writing is friendly and allows you to be approachable and most of all human. It is this human approach that enables you to begin building strong relationships with your followers which may turn them into loyal customers.
You may find that from time to time you may see a negative tweet that will need to be dealt with straight away to prevent any damage to your brand or business. These should be taken offline and be dealt with personally either via phone, email or Direct Message (DM) though twitter. If you handle them well and quickly you might even find that the user becomes your biggest fan.
David Cameron once said ‘I’m tweeting so much I feel like a tw#t’ which would suggest he felt like he was doing it too much! There are no rules about regular tweeting so just be natural about it and tweet as much as you like. It is good to make sure your presence is continuous though so even if you think there’s nothing to say you might want to consider tweeting offers specific to your customers to increase sales or just give out handy tips that might benefit you followers. We regularly tweet an offer of the week which is available to our followers both on Facebook and twitter and our customers in house:
As an electrician you might want to tweet things for your customers/followers to consider that may affect the condition of their electrics in certain seasons or festive periods. You could tweet ‘Light up your tree not your home’ at Christmas’ and offer advice about testing Christmas lights. You could tweet about the ‘joys sitting outside in the garden on a summer’s night’ whilst promoting your services on installing garden and outdoor lighting. Pictures are always great too so upload images of you and your staff at work, your company van plus anything you think may add to your following. In the past we’ve tweeted photos of all types of things even pictures of our company dog, Wilson simply because it’s actually been relevant and has added to a conversation (and because he’s really cute).
Let the world know you’re on twitter by putting your username on you van, website, business card, everything! The bigger following you have, the further your tweets will spread.
Tweeting can be fun but you need to know if it’s working for you. Measuring the success of your twitter campaign can be tricky but there are some indicators which are key into measuring your success:
• Are people engaging with you? Are they tweeting? Retweeting? Favouriting?
• Is twitter pushing people to your website? Use Google analytics to see if twitter is helping traffic/conversations?
• Create twitter only promotions. Get your customers to quote ‘twitter offer’ or similar so you know that they first heard of you through twitter – this can help bring regulars to your social space.
• Finally, why not ask your customers? Why are they following you? Are they enjoying it?
If you like what you’ve read and want to get involved sign up at www.twitter.com and begin your conversation!
Just remember to:
Listen & Learn
Add us on @tradeskills4u