Can “unsociable” businesses have success using social media?

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By Rachel Smith
on 23/11/12

Using social media for business is becoming an integral part of many marketing plans. Social media can be a great way for a business to interact with their target market and can add another dimension to their brand image, but can social media be used effectively for businesses that sell a product or service which is a social taboo? There are an endless number of products and services, from grooming and beauty products to health and financial services which many people won’t want to admit they use. Can social media work for these companies?

Before joining the Return on Digital team I worked at a commercial debt management company and whilst the services offered were a huge help to people, there was still an overall reluctance to interact on social media due to the stigma of debt. However, this didn’t stop the company’s social media efforts.

Here are my top tips for managing social media for companies who sell “unsociable” products.

Accept that not all of your customers will want to interact with you socially online

It’s great to have a positive attitude about your product and online marketing plans, but be realistic. A lot of people use their online social networks to project themself in a certain way. Online interaction with your product or service could contradict with their online persona. This doesn’t mean you should abandon your social media plans completely, but knowing what to expect can help you focus on your desired outcomes.

Use your social channels to show you’re a trusted company

If it seems like there’s little interaction on your social media channels, consider the number of “silent” visitors to your social profiles. These “silent” visitors may not publicly interact with you, but they could be viewing your social presence as research for their purchase decision. For this reason it’s important that your social media channels are kept up to date and reinforce your brand guidelines.

Focus on the people who do want to interact with you

Study the online social interactions you have with the people who are happy to interact with you online, then tailor your future content to appeal to them. These people already have an interest in your company, so keep them happy and they could help increase your online social following.

Add value and a human element through your social channels

Think of ways your social media channels can add value in a way that is different from your website. If your website contains a lot of static, factual content, use your social channels to add a human element. For example you could share client testimonials, start discussions on relevant topics and interact with other people in your industry.

Is there an anonymous alternative to the main social media channels?

Don’t confine your efforts to Facebook and Twitter. Your customers may want to interact anonymously, away from their main social networks so look at ways you can offer this to them. For example through a discussion forum on your main website, or by becoming an official contributor to an existing web forum used by your target audience.

If you’re unsure about where to start with social media for your business contact the social media team at Return on Digital to find out more about the work we do for our social media clients and to book a social media review with us.