Social media for small business

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Social media can be a new way for organisations to reach out to diverse groups, and have direct contact with customers – allowing you to brand for yourself. Here are some ways to achieve a successful but professional presence on social media.

THE HYPE AROUND SOCIAL MEDIA

There are plenty of businesses that aren’t active on social media, and have consciously done so. Some, don’t understand social media or are unaware of the advantages. These are the usual reasons why businesses haven’t yet transitioned to social media:

  • they feel overwhelmed and don’t know where to begin
  • can’t grasp the various roles social media platforms play (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn)
  • frightened away by horror stories
  • believe it’s time consuming

The truth is social media can be a great way for your business to excel on another level. This guide will emphasise all the advantages and help you adjust to social media’s mechanisms.

10 BENEFITS OF SOCIAL MEDIA

If used strategically, social media can present your business with unique benefits. By using social media you can:

  1. Build your own brand
    Using various social media platforms you can create a personalised brand that will help your business stand out from the rest – you can highlight your business’ specialisations.
  2. Create a name for your business
    Post frequently on certain subjects that will interest your audience. Starting discussions and conversations online could also be a great way to showcase
    your knowledge. Respond to customer’s questions quickly, it’ll show dedication to your customers and could win you referrals; or even brand new customers.
  3. Gain trust
    Transparency on social media will help you gain authenticity. If customers see that your goods or services are trustworthy, then they’re more likely to buy from you. Social media will make is easier for you to build personalised relationships with customers.
  4. Eliminate competition
    As a small business you’re less likely to have a big budget to spend on advertising. Advertising on social media helps even out the playing field with larger organisations, that usually have more money to spend on marketing. Strategise and market your business for cheap.
  5. Lure people to your website
    With tight marketing funds, your website is presumably your main marketing tool. Your website would have all relevant information on your business, and the goods and services you have for purchase. Social media is great way to draw attention to your website and help you increase customers.
  6. Keep on trend
    Social media is fast paced. To keep up to date with news or trends that’s relevant to your business, you can follow partner, local or similar organisations to yours.
  7. Use social media for research
    Twitter and Facebook are wonderful tools to interact with prospective customers. Social media can not only be used to reach out to potential customers but also used for research – to better understand who your customers are.
  8. Engage with customers
    Asking for recommendations or ideas on how to develop further as a business, gets the customers more involved and feel like they’re apart of the experience.
  9. Maintain your reputation
    Social media gives you the opportunity to reply to customer complaints or queries. Replying quickly and thoughtfully proves your ability to deliver great customer service, which will only improve you business’ reputation.
  10. Market yourself for free
    Marketing and selling your products for free has never been easier – cleverly promoting your products, or services will help you reach a wider audience. But, please note that you will need to take time to successfully target the right audience.

WHAT’S UP FOR OFFER?

It’s important to understand the various social media platforms up for offer before opening a business account.

  • Research Facebook, L inkedIn, T witter, Google+ and Instagram
  • Ask clients which social media platforms they use the most
  • Understand each network’s’ etiquette and inform your staff

Social media etiquette is vital and varies from network to network. Having the opportunity to reply instantly isn’t always the best idea for your business. Think, plan or don’t respond to inappropriate or abusive conduct on the networks.

WHICH ONE FITS BEST?

Organisations often sign up for all or the most popular social media platforms. Though, it’s important to always have a strategy and/ or outcome you would like to achieve from an online presence – In order to have a successful rate of traffic coming into your social media accounts, you should:

  • Know the different social media networks
    Understanding the inner workings and appropriate ways in which each social media platform works is vital – Instagram doesn’t work the same as Facebook, and LinkedIn doesn’t exactly work like Twitter. Every social media network attracts different demographics or groups of people. Having a strategic approach to each, and every platform will help you reach the right audience. Statistics and evaluations have shown that more females use Facebook, and that there’s a certain age group that uses Twitter more. Research users of each social media network and then decide whether they’re the right audience for your business.
  • Measure your success
    With Facebook and Instagram you’re able to measure how many likes you get for your posts, and with Twitter you’re able to see how many people follow your business. These interactions with customers can give you a brief idea of how popular you are on social media.
  • Take advice
    If your social media accounts are generating enough flow, or interactions then it’s a great time to evaluate. There are many ways that you could be approaching social media wrong – you may post too much, or too little. It might be a great idea to hire an expert to help you create the right presence and teach you strategic ways to create flow.

TIME MANAGEMENT

Managing social media accounts takes time and energy; and usually becomes an everyday task. Social media is fast paced and if you leave your accounts untouched for a few days, it can affect your business’ appearance – people could assume that you’re unorganised.
People mistakable think that Twitter is the easiest platform to use, however it’s not the case. Tweets only contain 140 characters and need to be carefully thought out. Twitter needs constant attention, and consideration.

BE GENUINE

Social media can seem slightly more out of touch, than communicating face­ to ­face with a person, however remember that ‘real’ humans are at the other end of your social media accounts. Remain on ball, unique and approachable as if you were communicating with someone face ­to ­face. You can:

  • share a media story about your business
  • tell them about new services or goods you have up for offer
  • notify followers of your discounts or special offers up for grabs
  • prepare and share useful links

Remember to never use business social media accounts as personal accounts. The accounts should always remain customer focused, and professional. Think about the value customers are getting from your social media accounts. Interaction is the goal.

SHARING LINKS

It’s important to link your online accounts with other forms of business documents or marketing tools. Such as:

  • business cards
  • adding links to email signatures
  • headed notepaper, slips, invoices or stationary
  • any live links off your website, or to your website
  • online feeds from your website
  • speak about your online presence or reference them in meetings
  • try your best to link all your accounts

SOCIAL MEDIA ETIQUETTE

As social media becomes more popular, so does online public shaming. It’s important to follow the etiquette rules already put in place.

People online can become erratic and quite irrational if something has angered them. It doesn’t take long for word to travel across the social media platforms – faster than it would take for someone to calm down, and think rationally again. These sort of outburst could be damaging to your business. At all costs avoid upsetting your customers.

DO

  • Post frequently
  • Keep your content fresh
  • Respond fast
  • Remain energetic and positive
  • Install software that monitors your shares, likes and favourites – allows you to understand what your customers like, and don’t like
  • Always triple check grammar, spelling, facts, links and your message before pushing ‘send’
  • Remain open minded – social media attracts many personal opinions

DON’T

  • Be impolite – customer’s always right
  • Only market your business – people want fresh, innovative and interesting posts
  • Bad mouth your competition
  • Be negative
  • Allow all staff members access – you want to keep your messages focused, it could get confusing with so many people posting

ALWAYS REMEMBER WHY YOU’RE USING SOCIAL MEDIA

It’s important to create a set of goals for your social media accounts and refer back to them if you’re feeling lost. Always remember social media is a tool to help you expand your business. The better your sharing skills become, the bigger your audience gets.

A tactical approach to social media will help you better understand your customers and give you the opportunity to interact with them on a personal level – without having to leave your desk. Also, it’s an easy and free way to market your business.

It’s all about branding yourself correctly, and notifying your audience about your goods or services. Practise makes perfect, and once you know social media inside out, it’ll become an easy practise.

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