Ben Shepardson* Being a business owner is never easy. Whether you’re a law firm, a startup or a small business, you’ve got the unenviable task of standing out from a sea of competitors, and that means building a reputation for yourself. Yet a smaller business doesn’t always have the resources of more well-established ones. This can make the task of reputation building difficult.
For lawyers, for instance, creating a strong reputation and authority is a key necessity in business. It’s a tough road.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. In fact, there are ways that you as a business owner can build your company’s reputation effectively and efficiently. One of these ways is through harnessing the power of social media.
Here’s how you can use social media tools to build a positive reputation for your business.
New Platforms Require New Approaches
Social media marketing is a vastly different animal when compared to more traditional advertising methods. As a result, trying to apply older, traditional marketing strategies and tactics are going to be largely ineffective. Not only that but doing so will result in undermining any reputation you’re trying to build for your business instead of strengthening it!
Online audiences — especially social media audiences — take a very dim view to traditional advertising.
Traditional copy that would be at home in print media or even on a static splash or funnel page is seen as little more than shilling for sales when appearing on social media, so you’re going to have to fight against your marketing instincts and adopt a completely new mindset to excel in the world of social media marketing.
Demonstrate To Your Audience That You Care
Building your company’s reputation online in a social media setting is all about building authority. A big part of that involves demonstrating to your audience that you’re not just looking for sales. You need to develop a genuine, authentic relationship with your social media audience so that they view you in a positive light.
This is not as difficult as it sounds. Since social media allows interaction on a much more intimate level, yet at the same time makes these interactions public, each one of these interactions are an opportunity to build trust in your brand.
Responding in honest and transparent ways to questions about your company and its products will go a long way in building that trust — especially in instances where you acknowledge any mistakes you might make in an open manner!
The Miracle of Added Value
So if you’re not using social media to market your products directly and instead focusing on being open, honest, and transparent, what type of content are you supposed to be posting?
It’s an uncomplicated answer, though it might not appear to be so at first blush: you need to provide your audience with added value. Don’t worry if this sounds daunting, as it’s not nearly as scary as it sounds.
No matter what type of business you have, you can offer added value. Running a raffle or drawing for free product samples is one way to accomplish this.
Offering promotional rates or discount coupons on those same products is another excellent choice. This allows you to put your products and services in the hands of your audience, allowing their capabilities to speak for themselves.
Be Funny, Be Entertaining
Everybody loves to laugh. You can capitalize on this sentiment by incorporating more than just added value into your social media content but also by entertaining your audience as well.
Engage your audience with clever or funny content in the form of videos, images, and posts that reinforce your brand’s core values.
Entertaining your audience in this way provides a humanizing element for your business. If you can demonstrate that your company is run by thinking, feeling people and not just corporate drones, your reputation will benefit. It doesn’t matter if you’re a multinational corporation or you’re running your business out of your garage — funny, entertaining content endear a company to its audience.
Have Conversations With Your Audience
One of the most remarkable things about social media is how easy it is to interact with others, no matter who they are. This means that you’ve got to do more than just post engaging and honest content.
While this will help build authority and trust in your brand, you’re missing a major opportunity if you don’t interact with people who respond to that content in some way. In fact, there’s an expectation that this will occur, though it differs from platform to platform. Twitter, for instance, has a 1:1 interaction ratio 95% of the time.
No matter which social media platform you’re using, though, you’ll do well to show your audience that you are willing and able to have conversations with them.
Responding to comments or answering questions in a reasonable timeframe provides yet another opportunity to demonstrate to your audience that you value them. Doing so causes your audience to value you. That’s how positive reputations are built.
Social Media, Social Awareness
It’s become increasingly clear that modern populations are highly concerned with having a positive impact on the world around them. This extends to making smart, informed choices when it comes to spending their money, and that means that businesses need to make consumers aware of where they stand on a number of social issues.
This is no fluke — currently, 78% of Americans feel that it’s important that businesses display social awareness when it comes to the issues we face today.
Social media is one of the most effective ways to show to your audience that you take social awareness issues seriously. Revealing how your company strives to make the world a better place is important. It can be showcasing initiatives you sponsor, promoting local events such as winter coat donation drives, partnering with charitable organizations, donating a portion of your sales revenue to a worthy cause — whatever it is, make sure your audience knows about it.
The Final Word on Building Authority and Trust
No matter how you slice it, using social media to build trust and authority in your business reputation can be highly effective. Keep in mind the important points of being honest, engaging, responsive, and entertaining. Downplay straight sales and instead show your audience you value them and the causes you believe in.
Do this consistently and you’ll notice the reputation of your business is stronger than ever.
Author Bio –
Benjamin Shepardson is the founder of Lake View Studios. With an extensive career in digital marketing and web development, Ben’s knowledge of the industry has enabled small businesses to scale and grow through well-crafted content and strategy.