Social media as we know it was birthed back in 2004, and while it seemed like a fad, it doesn’t look like it will be going away anytime soon. With its ever-changing layouts and rules, the social media landscape can be a daunting frontier. If you’re like most business owners, you’re too busy running your shop to figure it out. And if you can’t figure it out, what value could it possibly have?
The best way to stand out is to be interesting. If you focus on product features and technical specifications, you will bore the uninitiated and they will move on to something else. However, if you focus on the experience or uniqueness of the product, service, or your shop, you are more likely to make a lasting impression.
The problem for most of us who have been around bicycles a long time is that the magic has become mundane. To be interesting and stand out, we need to make the mundane magical again. Show off your customer’s excitement over buying a new bike. Show the joy of group rides and community events. Show off products in the context of an experience and watch the reaction to those posts change.
Another way to break through the chaos of your customers’ feed is to provide value. The average American is flooded with thousands of marketing messages a day, and most of them are aimed at getting us to spend. Capture their attention by giving. Do a video on how to change a flat tire. Post employee reviews of products. Show off your successful customers. In marketing circles, these are known as jabs. They set you up for the right hook, the hard sale.
With this in mind, check your content with the “E Test”: Educate, Entertain, Encourage.
Does your post educate?
Share helpful information your customers might not have known before.
Does your content entertain?
Content that evokes a deep emotional response, like laughter or inspiration, gets shared exponentially more than just facts.
Does your post encourage?
With so much of the industry revolving around accomplishments, encourage participants in local races or customers who have met goals.
Social media is also a good way to build and strengthen relationships with current customers. Most businesses use social media like a megaphone, proudly declaring promotions and services. If declaring promotions dominates your social activity, this quickly turns people off from your content, especially if it becomes irrelevant to them.
One of the best ways to use social media is to listen. That’s right, not posting. Platforms like Twitter and Instagram allow you the unique opportunity to follow potential and current customers. This will give you a fresh view of their values, how they use their gear, what kind of repairs they might need most, among other useful details.
As you’re listening, seek out ways to uniquely interact with your audience. If they post about having mechanical issues, offer to walk them through a quick repair. If they accomplished a goal, comment on the post and congratulate them. Use every opportunity to interact with your customers on social media. These types of interactions will pay you back big time in the long run.
A huge way to win at social is to acknowledge loyal fans of your shop. There are three ways to do this, each with varying levels of effort and return.
The easiest way to interact with your followers is to follow back. If you notice that there is someone who follows your accounts on Instagram or Twitter and also engages with your content, follow and like their content back. This shows them that you notice them and that you’re “listening.”
Ready to level up? Feature a member of your audience on your feed. Taking the time to notice a follower and then giving them some of your airspace goes a long way to build loyalty. This can be done with a simple retweet or doing a quick interview with a photo of them and their bike.
The most intensive way to reward loyalty is give out freebies. This doesn’t have to be an all-inclusive promotion, in fact, sometimes the smaller the better. This can be through giveaways or by contacting a follower at random and sending them something based on their feed. If you notice a customer having a bad bike day, send them a pick me up in the form of some free swag.
The more creative the freebie, the more attention your shop will get.
Respond With Honesty
With all of these outgoing tactics, what do you do when you’re on the receiving end?
In the age of public reviews and feedback, it can be tempting to want to bend the truth to market your business better and gain more stars. That is a trap that a lot of businesses fall into. This often comes back to haunt them when the truth comes out. There have been businesses that have fallen from a 5 star rating on Facebook to 3 stars in a matter of days once word gets out about poor customer experiences.
The solution? Tell the truth. Be open about faults and shortcomings. Not in a way that is self depreciating, but in a way the owns the truth. When you receive less than stellar feedback, meet it head on and seek to remedy the situation.
If you can’t tell the truth, then it’s time to work on some business development to get to where you want your business to be. Share that journey - people love transformation stories.
Get Ready To Win
Ready to break through the noise? Trying any of the above tips by themselves or in combination will set you up for success. They will also reap great benefits to your business offline as connections made and attention given online can often lead to great in store interactions as well. Make sure you promote your social profiles in store so that your customers can join your online community.