Hello, Nick Ponte here. I own a marketing agency here on Maui, and I want to help other local entrepreneurs grow their businesses with the tools and techniques I’ve learned. We recently discussed how to use some of the tools available through Google’s business resources, and today I want to shift gears to talk about another avenue of online marketing: social media.

In the last few years, social media marketing has become its own industry. An abundance of potential customer engagement exists on these platforms, and business owners can get started without much prior knowledge. However, if you really want to make it worth your time and effort, learning about the features and algorithms for each platform you want to leverage will benefit you.

Facebook continues to integrate messaging features between its more recently-acquired entities, Instagram and Whatsapp. The merges between these apps will allow paid ads to lead to direct communication between businesses and customers through messenger services. Once Facebook finishes testing these features, business owners can opt to add direct links leading to messaging apps, questionnaires, and quote requests. 

Why does this information matter for small businesses in Hawaii? Because, with these changes, you’ll be able to sell services directly from social media.

This means a roofing company can start the process for a bid directly from Facebook messenger. A salon can provide questionnaires for customers wishing to schedule appointments. A realty agency can chat directly with inquiring property buyers.

These new features will save time and directly engage customers with your business in a way that helps you understand their needs up front.

Regardless of YOUR business, you should get ahead of these changes before they land. Here’s why:

Also Read: What Facebook’s Analytics Change Means for Hawaii Businesses

Messaging Features Emphasize Direct Interaction with Customers

This update will change the ways that customers interact with your brand. Up until now, advertising on messenger and other messaging apps hasn’t been adopted by a huge proportion of companies or customers. With this change, however, I expect chat and messenger marketing to enter the mainstream.

Businesses who embrace messenger marketing will get in on the ground floor of this change and benefit from it exponentially more than businesses who adopt it later.

I recommend that business owners start considering how to integrate these new features right now instead of waiting. That way, your messenger marketing machine will be ready when the changes go live.

How can you prepare for these changes ahead of time?

Also Read: Facebook Retargeting: Keeping Leads Engaged with Dynamic Ads

4 Steps to a Future-Minded Social Media Strategy

Here’s how you can set your social media marketing up for success and prepare for the addition of the new messaging features from Facebook.

  • Try running a click-to-message ad campaign.

A click-to-message ad is an advertisement where clicking leads the customer to a direct message with the company. It gets you immediately connected to the customer and provides you with a limited amount of their information.

You can set up an automated response giving the customer immediate interaction and providing them with important information. This could especially help businesses using E-commerce because they’ll be able to instantly answer questions about their products. By the way, if you haven’t adopted E-commerce yet, you totally should.

In the future, customers may even be able to buy directly from bots within a chat.

  • Make sure someone monitors your chat channels.

This could be you, a full-time employee, or your tech-savvy niece looking for a part-time gig. Someone with good customer service skills needs to regularly keep an eye on the questions and requests coming in through these channels. They should be proactive and be able to provide or find answers to customer inquiries.

This step is crucial! If a customer wants to interact with your business over messenger and they never receive a response… you’re going to lose them. They’ll probably tell their friends about it, too. Don’t let this really positive opportunity become something that gets negative results.

  • Consider integrating a chatbot with your website and Facebook page.

A chatbot will simulate a real conversation with a customer to start engaging with their initial questions. Think of it like an automated messaging service on a customer service line. 

It frees up some time between the customer’s first interaction with the ad and your business’s ability to get back to them with more information. You also have the potential to collect some of the customer’s contact information and primary requests. You can have that information on hand when you reach out directly.

  • Select your business’ social media strategy.

Think about your target demographic. Based on that, determine whether you should invest in Facebook, Instagram, or WhatsApp in the near future. It’s often good to pick just one primary  medium at the beginning, and pour your effort into that. 

Get a Facebook Business Account if you don’t already have one. Facebook heads up these other apps, so this is a great first step to eventually managing all three. It’s easy and free to set up the account, and you can add and adjust as your marketing strategies grow.

Stay up to date on the new developments by following FB and Google’s blogs. Perhaps have your social media manager keep tabs and bring appropriate details to you. For digital marketing, change comes rapidly. As internet innovation moves forward, keep up with current information. You have to maintain a relevant web presence, since it usually ends up as your customer’s first touchpoint with your business. (It’s also a reason to have an employee dedicated to social media marketing.) Take advantage of the opportunities, and get in ahead of these updates to profit in some major ways.

If you want to learn more or want help building your social media marketing strategy, reach out to us today!

Further Reading: Struggling With Facebook Ads? Part 1: Here Are 3 Common Reasons

 

Photos Courtesy of Marvin Meyer, Priscilla Du Preez, & Timothy Hales Bennett

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