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With more than 2.2 billion active users around the world, social media is one of the most popular places for people to exchange ideas, stories  

Best Practices to Engage and Gain Customers on Social Media

March 10, 2016

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With more than 2.2 billion active users around the world, social media is one of the most popular places for people to exchange ideas, stories , and information. The various platforms have also become key communications channels for businesses looking to retain customers and find new ones.

If you are a business owner actively engaging customers and prospects via Facebook®, Twitter® or other channels, congratulations! The following tips offer a few suggestions to enhance your efforts.

If you’re not yet on social media – what are you waiting for? There’s no time like the present to begin telling the online community about your offerings.

Fine tune your channels
When it comes to social media, not every channel is a good fit for every business. Nor is it a good idea to spread your communication efforts too thin by trying to be everything to everyone across the social media spectrum. Take a look at the typical users each platform attracts – e.g., Facebook users are growing older while Twitter users skew younger. Find out where your customers and prospects gather and direct your efforts there.

Plan your content
Just as you would any other aspect of your business, take time to come up with a blueprint for your posts. Don’t feel that every post has to have an offer or sales promotion. Try the 80:20 rule – using 80 percent of your posts to drive conversation (about products, news, community events, etc.) and 20 percent to promote direct offers.

Monitor conversation and reaction to your posts to gauge the best times to post (some businesses find mornings work best) and the offers that best resonate with shoppers.

Use photos, videos and other rich media
The old saying holds true – a picture is worth a thousand words. And it gets noticed, especially online. Look for ways to integrate images and other rich media into your feeds. Studies find that using rich media can double engagement.

Embrace online reviews
Give customers the chance to talk about your business and service. Many people are influenced by the opinions of shoppers like themselves, and will check out a product if a friend mentions or links to it. Use posts to encourage customers to leave a review. Respond to any negative reviews quickly and sensitively. Apologize for the issue, gather more information (via private communication channels) and offer to resolve the complaint – just as you would a customer who calls or returns to your business with a problem.

Use social media as a customer service tool
Be ready to monitor and respond to customer questions and complaints. Don’t overreact to negative posts – especially in the public forum of social media. Encourage the customer to contact you via phone or direct message to discuss the complaint and resolve it.

Monitor and measure social media activity
Use third-party apps or individual platforms’ insights tools to see when customers and prospects are engaging with your posts and what they’re saying. Watch for trends and track overall likes and shares for your posts. This information can help you adjust and fine tune your posting strategy.

The U.S. Small Business Administration has a number of tools and resources available for crafting social media policy and engaging customers.

To help small businesses monitor social media activity, TSYS Merchant SolutionsSM offers TSYS Merchant InsightsSM, an easy-to-use online dashboard. With it, you can proactively manage your online reputation by monitoring customer reviews on the most popular social channels. The system offers alerts whenever a customer posts about your business, and you can even find out how your business ranks in comparison to your competition.

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