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unusual business social media

Social networks is a great tool for promoting your brand.

But you can do way more than that with social media.

Here are five ways to use social media you might be overlooking

1. Make a Splash in the Newspapers (Public Relations)

Want to make a splash in the media? Getting your business featured in a news story no longer means writing press releases and pushing them out to journalists.

Instead, you can just share your news on social media.

As PR expert Maggie Patterson explains:

Journalists rely on Facebook to source stories and Facebook itself actively promotes the platform as a “Rolodex” with 1 billion contacts for reporters.

Where your company may have relied on a press release in the past, you can now share your story on Facebook. It provides a low-friction way to report the facts in the case of breaking news or to provide comment on emerging issues that will help get your story to the media and your public faster.

To give the news you share extra oomph!, it’s worth building up relationships with journalists on social media. That way, you can point them to your story when you’ve got something you want them to see. Here’s our primer on finding journalists.

2. Find Out What Your Customers Think (Market Research)

To be effective in business, you need to know your customers. You need to know their likes and dislikes, their wants and needs, their pressing problems.

You also need to know how people view your brand, and get opinions on what you could do to improve your products and develop new products.

Getting this information requires market research. Just a decade ago market research was an expensive endeavor. You had to set up online surveys, or send out researchers to interview your target customers.

Social media completely changes that. As long as you know who your customers are, you can tap into their thoughts and feelings using social media.

You can use social media to:

  • Monitor what your customers are talking about, so you know their everyday concerns and passions.
  • Ask questions directly to your customers.
  • Listen to what people are saying about your brand.
  • Learn the language of your customers, so you can write better copy.

3. Keep Your Customers Happy (Customer Service)

Did you know that nearly three quarters (72%) of customers who make a complaint to a business on Twitter expect to receive a response in under 60 minutes? That’s according to research by Lithium Technologies.

If you’re not monitoring what people are saying about your brand on social media – and responding to complaints – then you’re contributing to the negative image of your brand.

As Anthony Leaper explains over on Forbes:

Irritated Customers have supportive Friends. They may have a few; they may have thousands. The dangerous fact, though, is this: it almost does not matter how many friends they really have. A single Facebook post that describes a jaw-dropping failure on the part of your company may, if stupefying enough or if told in a funny or snarky manner, be repeated, retweeted, “liked,” and “shared” innumerable times.

For an example of this, check out Ryanair’s middle gimp debacle. That’s exactly what Leaper is talking about.

By contrast, if you’re willing to help your customers online, they’ll respond in kind by recommending your brand to their friends and family.

Leaper again:

If you can discover and address an Irritated Customer’s concerns quickly and effectively, then you have a singular opportunity to convert an Irritated Customer into a Delighted Customer. Their delight, particularly if seen by many in the social media world, may move thousands of people into the column of potential customers who are now predisposed to consider your services—when they may have been on the fence before.

4. Uncover Your Business Persona (Brand Development)

Social media is all about building relationships with your customers.

That means you’ve got to be relatable.

Social media isn’t the place for corporate stuffiness. Act standoffish to your followers, and they’ll give you the cold shoulder in return.

Jeff Mancini, director of digital strategy at Interbrand, says people see brands they love in the same way they see friends.

In a Forbes interview, Mancini said:

We feel for brands similarly to the way we feel for friends. The reason we advocate brands in our lives are the reasons we advocate friends in our lives. That is, we genuinely like them.

Making friends with your customers means you must develop a brand persona. Social media is the perfect opportunity to do this. Don’t worry if you’ve not got it all sorted when you start out on social networks. You’ll discover your voice through talking with your customers.

If you need a bit of extra help developing your brand’s person, check out our 72 questions to help you uncover your brand’s persona.

5. Create a Vision Board (Strategic Planning)

Do you yawn when you hear the words “strategic planning” or “business plan”?

Developing a business strategy can be an incredibly dry process. But it doesn’t have to be.

Why not start out by creating a vision board of where you’d like to take your business?

Pinterest is the perfect tool for this. It gives you access to millions of stunning images, and allows you to group them into pinboards.

You can even create several vision pinboards, covering whatever aspects of your business you want them to. Here are some examples to get you started:

  • What you want to do for your customers
  • The types of products you want to sell
  • The mission and vision of your business
  • Your business’s ethos and values
  • The lifestyle you want to have while running your business

Over to You

What are some of the more unusual ways you use social media in your business?

Unlock Team's Creativity 1

Businesses thrive or nosedive based on their ideas.

These days, we live in what’s called an Information Economy (as opposed to a Manufacturing Economy).

Way back in the mists of time (well, not that long ago really), businesses made money by creating stuff. This was manufacturing, hence the Manufacturing Economy.

Now, businesses make money by coming up with ideas. That’s the Information Economy.

Think of it this way. You can hold stuff in your hands. You can put stuff in a wheelbarrow.

Ideas? You can only hold those in your mind.

In the Information Economy, coming up with ideas is vital if your business is to succeed.

1. Unlock Everyone’s Creativity

Unlock Team's Creativity 2Being creative isn’t just for the designers, marketers and leaders in your business. Everyone in your business is creative. Yup, that includes your janitors and your accountants.

How can you unlock their creativity? Establish a business culture where everyone’s ideas are listened to and respected. This could be as simple as having an “ideas box” that anyone can contribute to. It’s even better if you can give feedback on how the ideas are used.

The more you acknowledge and celebrate creativity, the more your team will give back.

2. Go Green in Your Office

office plant creativityNature is always creating and renewing. Little wonder then, that exposure to natural light – and to green spaces – has been shown to boost creativity.

That means if you want your team to be creative, it’s best to have your office flooded with natural light. If you only have a limited number of windows, it’s worth rotating desks to make sure everyone gets a chance to work in natural light.

You can also green up your office with indoor plants for an added creativity boost.

3. Allow for “White Noise” Time

white noise creativityWhite noise is the sound you get from a TV or radio when it’s not tuned to any station (want some now? You can get 10 hours of white noise here).

“White noise” time is when you tune out from the chatter in your mind. You log off your emails, and kick back and relax.

How does this boost creativity? Creative ideas tend to emerge when we’re not looking for them. Tuning out of being busy and just sitting in white noise is a way of not looking. You’ll be amazed at how many ideas bubble up amidst white noise.

Flamers and Trolls

You want your engagement with your followers to be sizzling hot and to buzz with excitement.

So what’s the deal with flaming? Doesn’t that heat things up, get the conversation moving?

It might do. But unless you’re a brand that’s all about controversy, then flaming’s probably not for you.

What is Flaming?

Flaming, according to Wikipedia is:

The act of posting deliberately hostile messages on the Internet.

Or:

A hostile and insulting interaction between Internet users

Wikipedia adds that flaming is “used mainly by trolls.”

We’ve all seen debates get heated on the internet. They rarely turn out well.

What should you do if your brand is flamed, or a flame war breaks out on your Facebook page?

Step 1: Remember, Prevention is Better than Firefighting

Sometimes people are perverse, and you’ll get flamed out of the blue for no reason. If this has happened to you, you can move on to the next step.

Most of the time, however, flaming happens for a reason. People will flame your brand because they’re frustrated with you. Something’s gone wrong, and it hasn’t been resolved. Just look at what happened to Amy’s Baking Company.

So, put out the fire before it happens. Make sure your social listening is up to speed and that you’re catching all brand mentions. When people raise problems about your brand on social media, jump in and solve it as quickly as you can.

Note: When people criticize your brand, it’s best to assume they’ve got good intentions. Treat their complaint at face value, rather than assuming they’re trying to flame you.

Step 2: Always Act Calm

Flaming burns. It’s painful. Flamers flame because they want to hurt you and provoke a reaction.

Whatever you do, don’t display your anger. Remain as calm as you can.

Remember this maxim: lose your temper, and you’ve lost the argument.

Step 3: Don’t Feed the Trolls

It’s not always easy to tell if someone’s got a legitimate complaint, or if they’re just trying to flame you.

Obviously, if someone is clearly trolling, you’re best to ignore it and delete it.

But what if things aren’t clear? We recommend responding to a potential flame once. Stay calm and professional in your response. This should cool things down, at least for legitimate and reasonable complainants. Flamers will continue to heat things up. If this happens, then it’s okay to disengage.

Step 4: Know that You’re In Charge

Social media is for the most part a public space. But you do have control over various aspects of it. You can decide whether to delete a flamer’s post on your Facebook page. You can decide to block an internet bully.

If you do this, you haven’t lost the argument. You’ve made a healthy choice for you and your business.

Engaging with trolls can cost a lot emotionally, so it’s best to leave them well alone. Then you’ll have more energy and buzz to focus on what matters.

Over to You

What are your top tips on dealing with flamers and trolls?