One of the best tools local business owners who practice social sustainability have to inform and engage with their consumers is Social Media. Today consumers expect a business to have a social media presence. Using social media platforms is a perfect way to know your customers, their expectations and gain their feedback. Social media is all about the consumer and what is important to them. It is about listening to them and asking them about what is important to them.
Henry Ford once said “If I had asked my customers what they wanted they would have said a faster horse”. Even though theoretically the consumer literally said a faster horse, as a business owner who listens could you not interpret that to mean faster transportation? In this age of social media the consumer expects you to ask and for you to listen. It is no longer about pushing onto the consumer what you think they should want.
Social media allows you as a business to connect with consumers in an informative and entertaining way. It allows your business to be seen as relate-able and personable. It allows you to be able to relate to your consumers on matters that are important to them.
A local business can use social media to authentically share their sustainability practices so as to develop and or increase consumer trust. The key is that you must actually put into practice what you say you are doing for sustainability. This will serve to enhance your brand reputation. As a business if you are paying your staff/workers a decent living wage would you not want your consumers and potential consumers to know this? If you are a restaurant owner and you source your vegetables from local organic resources do you not want your customers to know this?
If you are already using social media for your business are you including your sustainability practices? There is a local restaurant who, on their website and in their marketing, talks about making their entrees fresh, using fresh and locally sourced products. They recently posted a very short video showing the chicken they use marinating. A person responded by saying “I like seeing chicken in (sic) the bone. I feel like there aren’t any secrets. I know what I’m eating!” This short video conveyed a very powerful message about the restaurant to the consumer. The video was not a professionally made and edited commercial video but was taken on a cell phone lending to the authenticity and trustworthiness of the restaurant. Consumers respond to authentic and real time social media marketing efforts. This is where local businesses can really benefit from their social media efforts.
Social media allows a local business to not just tell their consumers about their sustainability practices but show them as well. Pictures and videos that are authentic and real speaks volumes. Real time videos are becoming immensely popular as the consumer can see for themselves the inner workings of a local business. They allow the consumer to connect and engage with the business owner. They allow the consumer to relate with your staff/workers. Larger brands struggle with this aspect of social media but as a local business it is much easier to provide real time content to your customers and potential customers. It is sometimes difficult for a larger brand to be authentic, real and transparent.
No matter what social media platform you are using or thinking of using, it is important to remember that it is all about being authentic, real, engaging, informative on matters that are important to consumers and entertaining. It is about talking to your consumers and not at them. It is about having a conversation with them on matters that are important to them. It is about telling your business story in a personable and relate-able way.