The web offers many ways for people to interact, share and connect online through social media sites like Facebook and Instagram.

CC-BY image "Curve3" from Keyframe Animation http://resumbrae.com/ub/dms423_f07/19/
CC-BY image “Curve3” from Keyframe Animation http://resumbrae.com/ub/dms423_f07/19/

Businesses are harvesting the power of social media to ‘socialise’ and connect with their customers through tweets, feeds, re-pinning and hashtags.

Here are some great ways in which you should be connecting with the customers to grow your business online:

Through Social Media “Conversation” Sites

Social media “conversation” sites, such as Facebook, are online places where people gather to connect with their friends, families and colleagues.

Typically, social media “conversation” sites enable people to post comments, photos and links which either informs others about their own activities or provokes a conversation or discussion.

Social media “conversation” sites offer your business the opportunity to interact with people either directly as a member of the site or through promoting your business through sponsored ads on these sites.  These connections help to build relationships with potential  and existing customers, as well as build brand aware about your business.

CC-BY Image "Glossy 3d blue conversation" by Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Glossy_3d_blue_conversation.png
CC-BY Image “Glossy 3d blue conversation” by Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/ File:Glossy_3d_blue_conversation.png

The three biggest social media “conversation” sites in Australia at the moment are Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+.

Facebook is by far the most popular social media site for business to consumer interactions.

Using a ‘company’ Facebook page, your business can offer competitions, discounts, polls and other fun things to gain the attention of Facebook users.

People use Facebook to ‘socialise’ with friends and family, and so Facebook users are more averse to pure promotional posts from businesses appearing in their feed, so make your posts more about interacting with people than advertising.

LinkedIn provides a better online conversation forum for business to business interactions.

As an online professional network, LinkedIn provides a platform for you as the business owner to offer industry advice through LinkedIn groups or to provide thought-leader posts in the public feed within LinkedIn.

Even though Google+ is still a very under-utilised social media ‘conversation’ space in Australia at the moment, it is important to consider creating a Google+ business page, as having one can help your business website’s search engine optimisation (SEO).  By haven a Google+ company page, your business is more likely to rank higher in a Google web search if it has a presence on Google+, especially if customers are providing ‘Google reviews’ about your business.

Which Social Media “Conversation” Site?

Deciding on which social media ‘conversation’ site you should be connecting with your customers is determined by whether your business is more of a ‘business to consumer’ (then use Facebook) business or a ‘business to business’ (then use Linkedin) business.  And, Google+ is a given as an online business page considering the SEO potential it offers.

Through Social Media “Imagery” Sites

Nine out of ten Australians are walking around with an internet enabled device in their hand, pocket or bag (Australian Mobile Phone Lifestyle Index, 2013). This is allowing people to capture photos of landscapes, streetscapes and peoplescapes and the like in an instance.

Sophisticated sharing options in mobile device image galleries and through social media mobile apps are allowing people to upload images online in seconds, making social media “imagery” sites a popular place for people to congregate online to follow, share and converse with one another.

CC-BY Image "photoshop" by usilnyacrayon - http://www.deviantart.com/morelikethis/artists/214587475
CC-BY Image “photoshop” by usilnyacrayon – http://www.deviantart.com/morelikethis/artists/214587475

Social media “imagery” sites offers you the opportunity to bring your business to ‘life’ by providing your customers with a ‘visual’ experience of what your business offers, whether it’s a product or a service.

There are many social media imagery sites, but at the moment, Instagram and Pinterest are two of the more popular sites.

Instagram is iconic for its Polaroid shaped images which people can enhance using filters and view through themes using ‘#hashtags’.  Instagram is owned by Facebook, so sharing Instagram images in Facebook is made very easy.

If your product or service can offer a ‘visual’ experience, then you should be posting these images on Instagram using #themed #hashtags or ‘key words’ which describe your business’s product or service.

Photo contests on Instagram are proving to be a great way for businesses to be connecting with customers online.

Pinterest uses a series of image pin boards where people can arrange images around specific themes or topics which they either upload themselves into Pinterest or which they have ‘pin’ off of the net. People can then ‘repin’ these images to their own themed pin board.

The US department store ‘Nordstorm’ uses ‘Popular on Pinterest’ tags on items in their stores to build a connection between what their face to face customers and their virtual customers have in common.

Social media “imagery” sites allow people to build upon their own imagination by using your images which are linked back to your Pinterest Board or website.  Or your business can highlight what’s possible by pinning creative images which help to build a visual memory about your business or the experiences it offers.

Which Social Media “Imagery” Site?

Amateur (and professional) photographers are flooding Instagram with millions of images daily, so if your target market are visual in their decision making process, then you really need to be on Instagram.  The majority of Pinterest users are women, so if your target market is women, then you really need to be on Pinterest.

Get started now!

Partaking in funny or challenging online conversations and/or sharing silly or controversial images through social media sites such as the ones you have just investigated is really why the internet is such an addictive experience for a lot of people.

These ‘keep ‘em coming back’ sites offers your business the opportunity to connect with new and existing customers in ways that traditional business methods for managing customer relationships could never offer, so pick one of these sites which would work best for your business and get started now!

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Want to learn more about how to grow your business online by connecting with customers?  Join Allison Miller for these great ACPET webinars:

Allison Miller is the Director and Principal E-business / E-learning Consultant of Digital Capability. Allison has been connecting with people online for nearly 10 years as an educator, change manager, and e-learning leader and innovator.  More recently, Allison has also been helping small businesses work smarter in a digital economy.

Contact us now via email or phone 0400 732 270 to learn how to effectively implement online business processes or enquire about our ebusiness coaching and mentoring service.

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Grow your business online by connecting with your customers
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