Excelling on social media isn’t just a valuable strategy for mega brands like Coca-Cola. In fact, 88% of small business customers report referencing online reviews and social media profiles before deciding which small business to purchase from.
Despite its importance in growing a business long term, however, most small business owners fall somewhere between neglectful and resentful when it comes to managing their social media accounts. The problem is that active social media management doesn’t always transparently lead to more sales in the short term, and given that maintaining an active and robust social media profile across a number of platforms takes time and expertise it often becomes one of the many forgotten tasks that never get done.
One leading piece of freemium software attempting to fix that problem is Hootsuite. If you’re unfamiliar with Hootsuite, it’s essentially a single web platform that your company can use to manage all of your social media profiles, publish to each of them (and as you’ll find out quite a bit more), all in an effort to provide a simple ‘dummy proof’ way for small businesses to efficiently manage their many social media accounts. In this article we’ll look at a few tricks for using HootSuite to its fullest.
Using Templated Messages for FAQs
A lot of small businesses like to use Facebook and particularly Twitter to answer customer service questions. Anyone who has been in the weeds of customer service knows that 80% of customer questions essentially boil down to about 4-5 questions. Rather than having to dedicate an employee to constantly re-typing the answers to the same questions over and over, as you would if you were using Twitter natively, through HootSuite, you can save a dozen or so common responses as ‘message drafts’. Then, when a customer asks a question your team can simply select the appropriate message draft and respond to the customer inquiry.
This may seem like a small trick, but it cuts down your response time) from a couple of minutes to a couple of seconds (and ensures that your response is perfectly formatted and scripted. Moreover, it enables you to delegate most of your customer service responses to a less skilled employee because the responses are prescripted and preformatted.
Auto-Publish Blog Articles
If you’re not an avid social media user personally, then you’re not likely to remember to publish an article to all of your company’s profiles every time you write and publish an article on your blog. That’s unfortunate, because, as previously discussed, 88% of customers are looking to see that your social media profiles are at least minimally active as a sign that your business is responsive and responsible. Republishing your company’s blog articles on the various social media platforms is an easy way to accomplish that.
Thankfully, republishing your blog articles on all of your social media profiles is easy to accomplish via HootSuite. Simply add your blog’s RSS feed to your HootSuite account, and every time a new article is published it will automatically be Tweeted / Posted / etc. You can set up two feeds in the free version of HootSuite, whereas more will require you to upgrade to HootSuite Pro ($9.99 per month).
The primary benefit of auto-publishing via an RSS feed through HootSuite is that you can set this up one time and articles will continue to be published indefinitely. Moreover, you can take the time to work on post formatting for each unique social media platform the first time and get it right, rather than having to properly reformat each and every new post. Taking this step should save you considerable time and provide better formatted posts to your company’s social media followers.
Respond to Mentions in Real-Time
If you’re the type of small business that struggles to just have a properly formatted and maintained Twitter or Facebook account, you’re not likely also taking the time to search out if anyone is talking about your company on those platforms, and certainly not engaging with those customers. But if your goal is to present yourself as a responsive and responsible small business to the 88% of your customers who are checking out your social media profiles, then this is a mistake.
Hootsuite makes it easy to track and be notified of any mentions of your company on the various social media platforms, and then to respond to those customers in near real-time. By adding a “Stream” of “Company Mentions” you have a single place to go check to see whether your company has been mentioned anywhere on a social media platform.
Once you’re aware of the conversation, you can quickly respond with help to diffuse a situation with a disgruntled customer, to thank someone that is praising your company, or to quickly answer a question posed. And with HootSuite, you can take the extra step and manage your email settings to be email notified when the company is mentioned, so that you don’t waste time logging in only to find out that there’s no conversations taking place that day about your company.
Growing a small business can feel like trying to juggle fifty balls at once, which of course, is impossible. As a consequence, small businesses face two choices, they can either drop some of the balls entirely (e.g. don’t actively participate in social media) and lose some associated clientele, or they can manage things smarter and more efficiently through tools like HootSuite. Moreover, by using some of the hacks and tricks outlined in this article a small business can further dramatically reduce the time and effort required to maintain an active social media presence for their company, so that prospective customers are more likely to choose their business.