Although over the years brands have been skeptical about how social media can bring in revenue a new infographic reveals social commerce sales are expected to bring in $30 billion each year by 2015, with half of web sales to occur through social media.

Statistics like these make both small businesses and big corporations aware of the importance of integrating social media in their marketing strategy. Examples of great companies doing social media marketing brilliantly are ever-present, but I still find that many organizations have a difficult time establishing meaningful relationships with their fans and influencing purchasing behavior.

If you are among the marketers who use social media for your business but aren’t sure of what you can do to successfully add value to your prospects through the strategic use of social media here are some ideas:

1. Post Valuable information

Don’t keep your fans in the dark.  Take advantage of every opportunity to share your knowledge with the people who are interested enough in your business to follow you on Twitter or to like you on Facebook. Posting valuable information isn’t rocket science, and doesn’t have to take a lot of time. It can be as simple as taking a couple of minutes to post a link to your blog, or to explain some process in basic terms. You can also do a quick Google search and include a link to a high-quality introductory article or tutorial on a bamboozling subject.

Every time you take the opportunity to educate your fans, they will see that you care and will appreciate it.  By posting valuable information you are not only keeping your audience engaged with your brand but will you’ll also empower them to better themselves.

Here is an article about the type of content your audience wants:

2. Be there for your customers

Social Media isn’t the preferred method of customer service yet, but it is certainly the fastest growing! Customer’s vocal and visible complaints mean they have more power than ever – and high expectations to match. Therefore if you want to add value to your fans you must become more responsive when it comes to encouraging customer service and giving customer service.

Here are the top reasons why people use social media for customer service:

  • to get a response from the company about a service issue

  • to praise a company for getting great customer service

  • to share customer service with other users

  • to complain about a poor customer service experience

Studies show that almost half of online customers expect brands to provide customer service on Facebook, but only 23% provide it. Being among the 23% of brands that offer customer service that is quick and solves problems is a move that will put your business far ahead of your competitors.

Also, don’t be scared of fans complaining. A negative comment could be your chance to turn an upset fan into a loyal customer. When you deal with complaints effectively, unhappy fans will tell others about the great customer service you offer and they’ll encourage their friends to buy from you – talk about powerful (and free) marketing! You’ve established brand loyalty and trust to a greater degree than you would’ve had if there had never been a complaint.

3. Be a bit like Santa

It’s only natural to give your fans something unique on your social media page (otherwise what reason do they have to follow you?) Promotions have the ability to draw visitors to your social media profiles and when used correctly, can be a very valuable tool to accomplish your business’s engagement objectives.

The point is: try to make your fans feel appreciated and give them incentives that will encourage them to keep that online relationship going.

If you are stumped for ideas, big brands are always a great for inspiration. Starbucks  is a great example of rewarding followers.

On Thursday, June 6th, Starbucks posted a Facebook offer “Enjoy a Grande Iced Coffee, Iced Tea, or Starbucks Refreshers Beverage for $1 on June 7.” The update was shared by 13,931 people and received hundreds of comments. By leveraging the promotion on their Facebook page, Starbucks made its large following feel rewarded , got higher visibility through the shares and gave other Facebook users an incentive to follow the brand.

4. Listen and engage

Encourage interaction in your posts. With every article that you publish try to capture your fans’ opinion on the topic. Get them involved in product development or product packaging and have Q&A sessions with your in house experts on your social media pages. Ask questions about what is it that your fans like about your brand? Your willingness to listen and engage will prove to your fan base that you value their opinion. Also the feedback you receive will enable you to have a better understanding of their wants and needs which will help you market your offerings better than ever before.

Studies suggest that 79% of Facebook fans are more likely to purchase from a brand they have liked,  so pursuing more fans and deeper engagement with existing fans should be a huge priority!

Bonus Tip: Post a funny picture of  grumpy cat  from time to time – no it might not tie in with your online marketing strategy, no it might not send traffic to your website but it will put a smile on your fans’ faces and they will love you for it.

If you want to find out more ways to make social media marketing work more effectively for your business download How to generate leads from social media E-guide