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Shining a light on social media

Are you in the dark when it comes to optimizing your online presence?
Thursday, January 29, 2015 - 09:00
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Let’s say you’ve been delaying attending to your online presence. It’s uncharted territory for you, so it’s natural to be weary and even doubt whether you’ll be successful there. Still, with a larger and larger percentage of your customer base being glued to mobile devices, you know you can’t afford to not be active online. So, what do you do when learning to navigate the social media landscape feels like a full-time job?

Sure, it’s tempting to hop on the bandwagon of the newest flashy trend, but putting all of your proverbial eggs in one basket can hurt your bottom line over the long haul. With so much competition, that’s not a risk you can afford.

The platforms might ebb and flow in popularity, but you’ll notice your activity here will revolve around two main functions: publishing content and managing your reputation.

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Content Sites
Gone are the days when just having a Facebook page would put you ahead of your competition. Quality is now the name of the game, and it’s a do-or-die struggle. Remember, you’re not just competing with the repair shop around the corner. Your messaging is up against posts from your customers’ family members and friends, as well as from businesses of all sizes in other industries.

Social media is about your audience. Content sites, especially Facebook, tailor home feeds in response to user behavior, so you need to cater to their preferences. Essentially, you’re playing in someone else’s sandbox. So, what’s a business owner to post?

Your foundational content should be entertaining or educational — or, better yet, both. Create and curate content your customers would thank you for. Then, get fans talking by asking questions and running contests with valuable prizes up for grabs. Keep the selling to a minimum.

With organic reach growing more difficult to earn, you also might want to consider investing in social ads, particularly on Facebook. You’ll increasingly need to pay to play in the social media world, but that investment also gives you options. By allotting some of your budget to ads, you can target your ideal customers where they’re already hanging out online.

The Other Players
Beyond the behemoth that is Facebook, you’ll also want to take a look at Twitter, Google+ and, perhaps, Instagram. As you expand your social presence, keep in mind that it’s better to do a few things well than a hundred things poorly. Take the time to get to know the platforms you’re adopting, so you can follow each one’s best practices to engage with your audience sincerely and successfully.

Twitter lends itself to casual conversation, customer service and news distribution. It’s not about what you ate for lunch (unless you’re really dying to share how much you enjoyed that tuna salad). If you’re always on the lookout for the latest trend or hot topic, you’ll find yourself in good company on Twitter. By networking here, you can position yourself as an industry expert and connect with your customers online in real time. As you acclimate, you’ll find your sweet spot for posting frequency, but you’ll want to tweet more than you post on any other network to remain in your followers’ constantly refreshing feeds.

Google+ is growing in importance to automotive repair shops, in particular, for localized search engine exposure. By posting content to your Google+ site (and taking care of reviews properly, as we’ll discuss later on), you’re building a robust history for yourself online to show Google you’re a trusted source and an active member of its community. Especially if you don’t have an active blog or intense SEO initiatives, Google+ is a must-have. You’ll find your posts might not receive as much interaction as on other networks, but your ultimate goal here to create a body of high-quality, searchable content for Google to crawl.

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