2017-03-26 / Insight

Social media a tool for local businesses

LAPEER COUNTY — Lapeer County businesses have tapped into social media as a resource and they’re not alone. According to a Forbes.com article, there are 40 million active small business pages in Facebook and 4 million of those businesses pay for social media advertising on Facebook.

From promoting a daily lunch special to looking for new talent to sharing photos of a recent company picnic, businesses have discovered the benefits of social media.

The branding team at VIEW Group monitors 10 social media accounts including the Facebook (www.facebook.com/ ViewNewspaperGroup/) and Twitter (@mihomepaper.com) accounts for View Newspaper Group. Chris Rocheleau, who owns Dream Bigger Consulting in Lapeer, manages social media accounts for many area businesses as well. Thanks to their daily interaction with social media they’ve developed some tips and tricks to make the job easier. Here’s some advice from Rocheleau and the VIEW branding team for businesses when it comes to social media.

Pick your platform: There are many social media platforms out there, and it’s unlikely that a business needs to be on all of them. Pick the platform or the top three platforms that work best for your brand and focus resources there.

Build a plan: Managing a social media account is easier with a plan. Themes are a good place to start. Manager’s Special Monday, Two for Tuesday or Throwback Thursday, featuring an old photo or offering a deal using a price from 10 years ago, can be fun ways to engage an audience. When it comes to how many times you post Rocheleau said “it depends on your business but consistency is key. If you only want to post one time per week, that’s fine but make sure that you commit to that. I usually recommend three to four posts per week, minimum. Consumers like to see what the business is promoting. If your posts are old and out of date, they will move on to another page.”

Mix it up: Although the newspaper has endless local news content to share, for example, it’s important to mix up the social media content feed and include photos of team outings, holiday greetings and more. When building the plan, be sure to include words, photos and video. “Variety is what keeps people coming back,” said Rocheleau. “If you only post to sell, users will get bored. Mix it up occasionally and add something funny, something inspiring. Never political or religious.”

Delegate to be great: While it only takes about 15 minutes a day per account, updating social media accounts can be the last thing on a business owner’s mind. Social media management is a task that can easily be delegated to a team member. Outsourcing social media management is always an option as well, which is what many of Rocheleau’s clients have done by hiring her to manage their social media pages.

Timing is everything: A few years ago, experts said that 10 a.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays were the best times to post on Facebook. A recent Hubspot study found that “the best time to post on Facebook is 3 p.m. on Wednesday. Other optimal times include noon to 1 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays and 1 to 4 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays.” Facebook allows for scheduling and there are also tools, like Hootsuite, to schedule multiple posts from multiple platforms at designated times, meaning a social media manager doesn’t have to be available to post at those exact times.

Keep on trend: As the above tip points out, social media trends change and fast. Social media managers must stay informed. Trade journals, online articles and groups like the one the VIEW team belongs to, Social Media Club – Great Lakes Bay (www.smcgreatlakes.com) are a great way to do that. Area chambers of commerce are another resource. Rocheleau will host a Boost Your Business seminar on April 26 at Mott Community College in Lapeer for Lapeer Area Chamber of Commerce members. The seminar is free for chamber members or $10 for non-members. Call the Chamber at 810- 664-6641 for more information.

Pay to play: Sponsored content options are increasing in popularity on most social media platforms. Paying to boost a post on Facebook, for example, is a good way to ensure your post is visible in a busy outlet that rarely allows business posts to rise to the top of a newsfeed. Traditional online advertising options are also available on outlets like Facebook and allow users to reach a specific audience with a minimal investment.

When using social media as an advertising outlet it’s important to note that it is only one piece of what needs to be a larger puzzle. A complete advertising campaign must be frequent, consistent and have a broad reach. To get results, an ad placed on Facebook must also be seen in print, heard on radio and wherever else a budget allows.

React with tact: When replying to messages and comments remember that what is said is a direct reflection of the business. Don’t write anything online you wouldn’t say to a customer face to face. A negative Facebook review, for example, should be addressed as quickly as possible in the most courteous manner possible. “It is important to always respond to comments and reviews on your page — good or bad,” said Rocheleau. “Consumers like to see that you are addressing any issues and/or thanking customers for their business.”

Jump in: While there is a lot to consider, the most important part is to just be there. Starting Facebook, for example, is free and easy. Start slow with the basics like a phone number and website and build from there. Something, if it is monitored, is far better than nothing. “Many people use Facebook to search for local businesses, as opposed to other search engines,” said Rocheleau.

Need advice? The VIEW team is here to help. Contact Emily Caswell at 810-452-2608 or at ecaswell@mihomepaper.com.

Compiled by Emily Caswell, brand manager

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