According to Allegra - ProjectCafé2018, the total U.K coffee shop market witnessed a 5.5% growth in outlets last year. This is great news for consumers! But for existing independent coffee shop owners… increased competition presents major challenges.
How do you attract customers into your business beyond just those who pass by or those already familiar with your coffee shop? How can a small independent café compete with the major high street chain down the street backed by a multi-million marketing budget?
The answer has always been the same - through building strong customer relationships. But the method, that’s what’s changed.
Welcome to customer relationship management in 2018, enter social media!
Our Top 10 Tips.
1) Pick the right platforms.
The first thing your business will need to do is decide which social media platforms will be utilised. Ask yourself who your target demographic is and which channels offer the best opportunity to engage with them. You may also wish to consider which platforms your competition is already using.
At this stage it can be tempting to try launch your brand on every platform. However,
when it comes to social media for your business, quality over quantity is key.
Start small – stick to 1 or 2 social platforms to begin with. Once you can see that you are successfully building an online audience and are able to maintain regular content uploads, you can then begin to expand. Don’t run before you can walk!
2) Ensure consistent branding.
Branding should be consistent across all of your social media channels. It should align with your offline strategy too! An online audience should be able to quickly find & recognise your brand through both the textual and visual elements of your social profiles.
This means considering things such as:
Are your social handles, page names and usernames similar & easily recognisable?
Are you using a unique, branded hashtag across all your social media content?
Are you sharing content of the same quality and standard across all platforms and adapting the same tone of voice?
- Is your visual content aligned and easily associated with your brand?
3) Be concise.
When it comes to sharing content, keep any text as concise as possible. Platforms such as Twitter will limit you to 280 characters whereas others such as Facebook and Instagram are more generous with their allowance.
However, keep in mind that most content captions will usually be cut off after a few lines or so - users may need to click ‘see more’ to continue reading. This means you will need to grab their attention within the first few lines of text to pique their interest and get them to read further.
4) Be visual.
According to Brainrules, a person who hears a piece of information will remember just 10% of it three days later, while someone who sees that same information in a picture will recall 65% of it.
That said, it is recommended to always include a visual element of some sort with each piece of content shared on social media. High quality images are great, but video is better. And live streaming content? This provides the highest engagement of all content on Facebook.
Did you know: Research has shown that Tweets with images are 150% more likely to gain Rewtweets than text-only Tweets and Facebook posts with images generate 2.3x more engagement.
5) Be social.
Being social implies a two-way conversation and exchange. Unfortunately, when it comes to social media, many businesses fall short of realising this (have a look at that major high street brands social media content, how many comments are they responding to?...).
It is not enough for your business to simply create a profile and upload content. You need to interact with your online audience, respond to their comments and questions, tag others in your content, like & re-share your follower’s posts. Social media also offers your business the opportunity to ask questions, conduct polls and strike up conversation. After all, the aim is to form and strengthen relationships – is it not?
Don’t forget: If you have a unique branded hashtag, be sure to engage and encourage the customers who use it on their content! Ours is #matthewalgie, feel free to tag us in your content and we'll be sure to engadge.
6) Be local. Be current.
Social media offers your business the perfect opportunity to easily seek out new customers and join in and contribute to local, relevant conversation.
For example, Instagram’s explore feature will allow your business to search for content shared by others at a specific location in real time. Is your café located on a busy high street or near a tourist landmark? This is the prefect tool for seeking out & engaging with new potential customers in the area!
Don’t forget: Geotag your own content so that people can discover you too!
Your business can also make use of hashtags in the same way by exploring content on city hashtags or jumping on a local event/festival hashtag. Live top posts on these hashtags may also help identify any local, social media influencers – why not invite them to your new menu launch for a free coffee?
One coffee in exchange for possibly reaching hundreds of local customers with one social media endorsement – not bad, right?
7) Be personal.
Social media is one of the most powerful marketing tools for demonstrating the humanity behind your business and developing real, high-quality relationships with customers.
Why not share behind the scenes stories or features which celebrate your staff and customers? It is important to adapt a soft-sell approach when using social media for your business, talk to your audience – not at them! Your entertaining and educational content should always outweigh that of which is purely sales or promotional.
Being transparent is also important. People like doing business with other people - this builds trust in the business.
8) Be organised & consistent.
Just like every other traditional marketing method, consistency is key in creating loyalty. Your business must dedicate time DAILY to social media. Sure, content can be scheduled in advance using content scheduling tools, but you will need to check in on content, respond to customers and monitor progress regularly.
Be realistic in what your business can manage. If you’re failing to share content on a regular basis or respond to customers promptly, maybe it is time to rethink your strategy. Being unresponsive on social media can be extremely damaging to your brand’s reputation. Perhaps you could reduce the number of social platforms you are managing or bring in another employee to help?
Did you know: 48% of consumers are more likely to purchase if a business is responsive on social media.
9) Cross promote.
Most café businesses will strategize on how they will bring their online following into their venue. However, not many will consider how they will bring their existing customers onto their social media.
Existing, loyal customers are your biggest asset – especially in the beginning stages of building your online following. They are key in spreading online awareness. Put yourself in your customer’s shoes & consider your product’s presentation and the overall café setting. Would it inspire you to share your experience on social media?
Introduce signage in your café which prompts visitors to go online and follow your social media profiles. You can even incentivise the process through online competitions and giveaways – they don’t have to break the bank either!
Turning real customers into online ambassadors will promote trust in your brand. After all, research shows that consumers are more likely to trust endorsements from real people over direct advertising from a business.
10) Be analytical & be realistic.
Much like the coffee market - social media is crowded and competitive. It is essential that your business tracks and reviews results to identify what is working and what’s not.
While built-in analytical tools on platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter & LinkedIn will offer some insight for business pages, other free online tools such as IGBlade and Likealyzer can provide deeper insights and can even be used to track your competitors for the purposes of benchmarking.
Remember to set realistic goals and expectations - don’t fall into the usual pitfall of only looking at follower numbers. When it comes to social media in 2018, it’s quality over quantity and its engagement that matters most.
Yes - having 10,000 followers on Instagram would be great, but not if only 40-50 of them are engaging with your content. Aim to attract quality followers, people who will actually enjoy and interact with the content you post.
Be sure to sign up to the Matthew Algie monthly newsletter to be notified when we post our upcoming blogs. We’ll be delving into specific social media platforms and how your coffee business can utilise each of them to their full potential!
For any quesitons or social media advice, feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org