Want to use social media for business advantage as a Los Angeles distributor? If all the hype on the subject is true, social networks are the future for wholesalers that want to get ahead.
However, like most new technologies, starting with the solution and trying to find the problem afterwards is putting the cart before the horse.
It’s better to list the business needs of your distribution company and then assess the potential of social networks to help you meet those needs. Remember as well that it is increasingly harder to ignore social media.
Customers can talk about you online and many are frank or even outspoken. You should know about those comments, whatever they are.
Here are five activities distributors typically want to optimize, and where social media for business can help:
- Marketing. In this context, this means finding out what your market and your resellers want, whether in terms of products, services, terms, conditions or other. Customers express needs and wants freely on social networks, often more than they would in a formal survey.
- Merchandising. It could be for the items you have in your catalog. It could be for your company as a whole. Social network accounts are often easy to update with merchandising information of any kind, making them a useful adjunct to websites and printed collateral.
- Sales. While you may rely in general on your e-commerce site and your inside sales team, many social networks offer possibilities to make online sales directly. They also carry web advertising that can drive potential customers to your e-commerce site or call and order from you.
- Support. Certain social networks offer great possibilities to enhance your support services to your customers. Facebook has great coverage and Twitter makes short messages to resellers known immediately – good for urgent ‘Tweets’ about sales promotions or product recalls.
- Growth. Want more revenue, more profit or both? Social networks are also good testing grounds for new ideas, products and services. With minimal expense, you can get an impression of whether or not your plans please resellers, and continue or adjust accordingly.
Now, How Do You Get Those Benefits?
We wouldn’t be doing much of a job if we left things as they are above. So to finish, here are five practical tips about how to actually realize those benefits.
- Target your audience. Know the sectors you want to address, and then choose your social networks accordingly. LinkedIn, for instance, focuses on businesses and professionals, rather than the broad audience of Facebook.
- Offer content of value. That means value to your audience. Just posting the weather forecast each day is unlikely to win you many votes.
- ‘Speak’ the right way. Use and stick to a suitable ‘voice’ on a social network you’ve chosen, in the same way you chose a way to talk about your company on your website.
- Respond to comments. Don’t let comments go unanswered. Stay cool, polite and constructive, but respond.
- Monitor your ROI. Using social media for business still takes time and effort. Track what’s important to you, such as followers, sales leads and so on. Good ROI? Carry on! Poor ROI? Change!
Which social networks work best for you? Tell us about them and how they benefit the kind of business you do, in the Comments section below.
And to follow-through on the tips introduced in this short article, be sure to download your free guide, How COOs at Los Angeles Distributors and Manufacturers Get More Done: A Guide to Productivity, Data, Staffing, Delegation, and Making It Home for Dinner Most Nights.