How to use social media to get more customers

Social media marketing is the process of promoting your site or business through social media channels and it is a powerful strategy that will get you links, attention and massive amounts of traffic. This article looks at how social media can attract more customers to your website.

Everyone is talking about social media – websites like Myspace and Facebook have millions of members and big businesses everywhere are using online communities and interactive content to attract customers and build their brand loyalty.

 

But social media isn’t just for corporate giants or catching up with old friends. Because the Internet has now matured to a level where websites are highly-functional and very affordable, small bricks and mortar businesses can use social media to get more customers and make more money online.

 

The key to this is making your website an online community where your customers can interact with you and each other, as well as offering engaging content and features that draw them back to the site regularly – because the more time they spend on your site, the more chances you have to get them to buy from you.

 

Here are some strategies for achieving this on your website and some practical examples to help you see how you can apply these ideas to your business:

 

Photo gallery

 

If you sell products, you should have a photo gallery of your range on your website – more than 50% of consumers research online before they come in-store to purchase so you should be using your website to draw them in. Photo galleries also have some other really interesting applications for different businesses and they are a great tool for engaging with customers and giving them a reason to return to your website (and even share it with their friends).

 

  • Hairdresser – ‘before and after’ photos of clients that have just had their hair done

  • Construction company – images of buildings in progress for owners to share with their friends

  • Costume hire shop – customers can upload their images and site users can vote for the best one

 

Internet Forum

 

Chat rooms are the best way to build a community around your business. Your customers can ask each other questions and discuss topics and if the chat room gets popular, you could have hundreds of visitors coming to your site on a daily basis to participate in conversation. The key to a successful forum is to make it worthwhile for people to participate – they need to get something out of it, so if you don’t have the type of business that easily generates discussion, you can attract participants by sharing your own expertise through your online forum.

 

  • Clothing retailer – once a week the owner does a live chat with site users to answer their fashion questions

  • Photographer – forum is a place for people to discuss the industry, make contacts and ask the photographer questions

  • Sporting club – members join the forum to discuss club issues and events as well as world sporting news

 

Classifieds system

 

The form of classifieds that we all know is newspaper classifieds, which is where you pay to place an advertisement in the newspaper to buy or sell something. Online classifieds work in the same way – you pay the website owner for the opportunity to advertise something on their site. This tool is ideal if you want to start an online business or directory because it’s an easy way to get your site making a profit for you and it builds a community of users that visit your site on a regular basis.

 

  • Camping store – as well as selling new products online, this store allows users to advertise second-hand equipment on their site for a small fee

  • Car yard – instead of selling the advertising space, this business uses the system to advertise all their cars for sale

  • Chamber of commerce – to make their site a complete local business directory, the chamber allows all businesses in the area to pay to advertise on their site

 

Bulletin board

 

This is a simple and effective way to introduce two-way communication between your business and your customers. A bulletin board allows you to post messages and information on your website and also for your customers to post their own messages – from events, to items for sale, to questions for your business or other users. It’s a very simple system, so it has a multitude of applications for different businesses. Also, the website owner retains control over the board and can block any inappropriate messages from being published, so it’s very secure.

 

  • Training company – use the board to post training session details and business news and clients can post their own questions or success stories

  • Real estate – the board is used for potential house buyers to ask questions to locals in the community and also for community announcements

  • Furniture manufacturer – this board is in a secure part of the website and is for the manufacturer to communicate with his stockists about the products