Peer to peer: Well-crafted social media can deliver big payoff

How can online tools help manage and expand the presence of my business?

Alex Eve Chisholm | Vice-president of marketing and operations, Merchant Advance Capital Ltd.

Social media platforms are becoming increasingly relevant in the data models of modern business-to-business lenders. In an economy where retail trendiness is sometimes in higher demand than business consistency, what has been historically crucial to predicting consumer demand is less relevant in today’s small-business world. Business owners need to stay on top of their online reviews.

Being online for the sake of being online isn’t enough anymore – consumers expect engagement and timeliness. When businesses go online, they bring with them colleagues, friends, family and a diverse array of consumers. They can’t and shouldn’t be ignored. They symbolize where our commerce is heading, and their demand is challenging yet attainable. There are many things a business owner can do to positively embrace a cultural change. Being accessible or at least searchable is paramount.

As phone books become obsolete, an opportunity has arisen for small-business owners to reinvigorate their brand through new social platforms. Referrals, partnerships and client acquisitions have never been as easy as they are now because of this new technology, and message consistency and engagement frequency are both strong indicators of a business’ ability to navigate through the social sharing world with traction. It’s important to understand the nature of a business and its audience, and social sharing, along with new statistical indicators, have enabled us to develop a greater ability to quantify business engagement.

Bria Lear | Brand mentor and Photoshop instructor, Digital Darlings Creative

It’s no secret that using social media for your business is important for its growth. After all, that’s where your customers are hanging out, researching product options, engaging and sharing with friends.

Your customers are craving a personal connection, and if you aren’t giving it to them, someone else will. We have entered an era when people don’t buy from businesses; people buy from people. Customers are no longer looking just to be inspired and served; they are also looking for “me too” moments that create connection and trust. Instagram, Snapchat, Periscope and Facebook Live are perfect platforms to humanize your business and share your brand’s point of view. Quality content and engagement are key.

If you or your brand are visually inclined, Instagram is the perfect place for you to curate imagery and establish a strong esthetic. Posting pretty pictures isn’t enough; your captions need to tell a story and encourage conversation. Use Periscope or Facebook Live to simulate face-to-face conversation with your customers and Snapchat as if you were sending real-time video text messages to your inner circle. Whatever you share, make it a valuable experience for your audience. Whichever platforms you choose, don’t just share your product or service; use your account to tell a story about the bigger picture. Communicate brand values in a way your ideal customer would understand, and connect with your audience through authentic human experiences. Social media isn’t going away any time soon, and it allows you free access to millions of potential customers if you invest your time. Do your business a favour: play the long game.

Cam Landell | Director of strategy, Watershed Communications Group

It can be overwhelming to have to decide which online tool is right for your business to use.

But one of the most successful methods can be found in the development of apps to create knowledge and spread awareness around a particular marketing campaign.

Many businesses offer apps as an added platform to connect with their audiences. We believe that a significant percentage of British Columbians who haven’t related to your business might do so if your brand were available at the app store. By creating additional content that takes a few minutes to download and learn, you can have a whole new audience hooked.

Here’s why an app might be the best online tool to help your business grow:

• If your company needs to teach a skill to your audience or customers, apps can be a great choice, making use of a fun format to offer up quick education on how to access information or acquire new skills.

• Apps engage people in a way few other online tools can while still directing them to your website and social media. The key is that it gets your audience to engage and talk to each other about your campaign, your issue or your product. It’s active.

• We learned that a game format is involving and instructive. Engaging your audience with activities that have a time limit can add a fun way to facilitate learning.

• Proper promotion around the app and a strong call to action promise tangible results.