Don’t fear social media. Embrace it with these helpful tips.
What is social media? Your dictionary could define it as forms of electronic communication through which users create online communities to share information, ideas, personal messages and other content (videos). Blogging, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and a host of other digital platforms all fall into the social media realm. That explanation might have you asking, “Why do I need to mess with all of that?” Here are eight solid reasons why social media can help your business grow.
1. Everybody’s doing it
Social media embraces the fastest growing population on the Internet today. Facebook alone has more than 1 billion users, and they are not just young people. Seniors over the age of 65 are the fastest-growing group on social media, according to the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project. Forty-five to 54-year-olds are the most rapidly growing segment on Facebook as well. These are working-aged people or retirees — people with money! How else can you directly reach out to this many people with free advertising?
2. Be strategic
First off, identify your audience. Are they recreational shooters or hunters or both? Are they Cowboy Action shooters or 3-gun participants? Then think about your objective? Remember, you’re using social media to grow your business, so think through how you can accomplish this.
“List all the social platforms you are creating content for or plan to,” said Joe Pulizzi, author, and founder of Content Marketing Institute. “Put a big ‘why?’ at the top and list your business objective for each one. Then figure out your content strategy for that platform (Facebook, Twitter, etc.), and the metrics you’ll focus on to show that you are hitting your objectives. Once that is done, execute against those platforms and above all else, be patient.”
3. Post good content
There’s more to social media than setting up a Facebook page and expecting people to like it.
“In short, instead of pitching your products or services, you are delivering information that makes your buyer more intelligent,” said Pulizzi. “The essence of this content strategy is the belief that if we, as businesses, deliver consistent, ongoing valuable information to buyers, they ultimately reward us with their business.”
Content is how you connect with your audience. If your shooting range tailors to long-range shooting, then you should regularly post pictures and articles on long-range shooting equipment and instruction. Sharing a link, video or picture from another website or social media page and adding a comment to it in your post is completely fair game and is encouraged. You essentially become a niche media outlet for your audience. Over time they look to your page or site as an authority on the subject or subjects you choose to disseminate. This is how you build a loyal following and potential customer base.
4. Promote events, products and sales
Once you’ve built a social following, your content should include event promotions that you have. If you’re having a special shoot at the range, then you need to promote it on social media. Use exciting pictures from the last event to help promote the new one.
If you sell firearms or other shooting-related products, then you need to take a good photo of the product with an employee or a customer showing it off or of the item sitting on a well-lit counter, and then post an exciting sentence or two saying, “Look what just showed up,” or something similar.
If you have special sales on products or range fees, promote it on your social media sites. Offer special social-media-only deals where your followers have to share your page with their friends and followers in order to get the discount. You can quickly increase your potential customers and social media audience with these types of promotions.
Promote customers using your facility. Nothing makes people want to visit your shooting range more than if you show other people enjoying the experience. Be creative. You can start a “Customer’s Gun of the Week,” where you post a photo and blurb of a shooter’s firearm on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. This all works to create excitement about your range and store.
5. Speak directly with customers
Social media allows you to speak directly with your customer in an unobtrusive way. People love to give their opinions on topics that they are passionate about. If you are thinking about adding a new offering at your range or carrying a specific product at your store, ask the followers on your social media sites what they think. You might find out that few people in your area have an interest in it, or, maybe, it’s just the opposite.
Focus on building relationships. Always answer your fans’ or followers’ posts, especially if it’s a specific question about your business or something you offer — even more important, a complaint. If other people see that you quickly answer customer questions on social media, then you’re building credibility with them, which will make them more apt to visit your range or store in the future or at least tell their friends about it.
6. Push people to your website
If you have an e-commerce website, then you need to funnel your social media followers to it. Post pictures of merchandise in a creative way on social media. If you sell apparel or shooting accessories, show someone wearing it or using it on the range and then add your website’s link to the post to learn more about it or to buy it.
“Building your connections on social media is fine, but those social media platforms own those connections, not you,” stresses Pulizzi. “Focus on something you can own, like your own blogging or media platform through the creation of consistently helpful content.”
If you have an up-to-date, useful blog that offers solid information or entertainment, then you can drive your followers to it by posting links, pictures and video to your social media pages. You can also create email newsletters that you send out with your blog content. You are growing an email database, to which you can market as well.
7. Cross promote your social media pages
Don’t settle for just one social media site. There are users on one site that don’t use another social media site, so don’t limit your reach. You can sync your social media sites to automatically post content from one to the other. Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest are great for posting pictures, and Twitter is ideal for quick things you want to say or promote. By posting on multiple sites you’re ensuring that you’re reaching the largest audience possible. Be sure to promote your social media pages on printed material in the store, such as posters and signs.
8. Buy targeted ads (Facebook ads)
With over a billion users, Facebook is a great place to advertise your business. For one, you can be very selective about to whom you market. Facebook collects a lot of information on its users, so that it can target potential advertisers to those niche markets. For example, if you want more people in your area to find out about your shooting range, then you can specifically target to people in your area. Take it a step further and market to local Facebook users who are shooters, male or female only, and so on. You can also exclude your Facebook followers from your ads to reach a broader audience. After all, you should already be keeping your followers up to date with your posts.
The best part is that Facebook advertising is not as expensive as traditional advertising. Plus, you can start small and test the waters before committing more money to the ad campaign.
These are just a few tips on how social media can create a buzz about your business. Through social media, potential customers get to personally know you and your range. With frequent quality posts, you become a part of your followers’ daily lives through social media. Once people feel this personal connection with your brand, they’ll prefer to visit your place of business and tell others about it.
Continue Your Education
Social media is constantly evolving, and it offers many beyond-the-basic benefits for its users. Below is a list of websites that focus specifically on using social media to market your business.
Social Media Today
Social Media Examiner
Search Engine Land
Don’t Have the Time?
You might be saying, “I’m not a writer,” or “I don’t have time.” That’s okay. Professionals who can help generate top-notch content to help build your audience can be available to you.
“Look at the masthead of the leading trade magazine in your industry, or a website or blog you like to frequent,” said Joe Pulizzi, founder of Content Marketing Institute. “Those people clearly understand the industry, and many of those people are looking for more work.”
You can simply do a Google search for the names of writers you see in The Range Report and other shooting websites and publications to see if they are freelance writers or have their own websites where you can contact them.
Don’t stress over your social media content. Simply think about it in terms of what you find helpful, interesting, entertaining, etc. Chances are that like-minded shooters are going to find the same content useful and entertaining.