If you are a small business owner, chances are you have been told time and time again how important social media is for your business.
Of 3.4 billion worldwide internet users, over 2.3 billion use social media networks. In fact, research conducted by the Global Web Index tells us that 1 in every 4 minutes on the internet is spent on social networking sites. Putting your brand in front of such a large (and easily accessible) audience is very attractive to businesses.
But how do we go about picking the right network? And how do we get started publishing content and growing our following? Well, here are a few tips to get you started.
1. Know your audience, who are you talking to?
Social media, like any marketing tool, should be based around some basic marketing principles. Who is interested in your services and/or products? Who is your target audience?
The answer to this question should form the backbone to your overall marketing strategy. Only by knowing who we are talking to will we know how we should be communicating. Knowing who our audience is will help us shape our overall marketing strategy.
Once we know how we are going to communicate (think: tone of voice, brand personality, brand image) then we can get started with creating some great content which we can deliver via our social networks of choice.
2. Choose your social media platforms carefully – and master them!
Once we know who we are talking to and how we are communicating, we can decide which social media platforms we should use.
Different social media networks attract different followings, so you’ll want to choose the network that best fits with your target audience.
For example, Snapchat is known for being more popular with younger users, LinkedIn is notorious for being a professional male-dominated platform while Facebook provides a pretty strong even footing across the board (and is unsurprisingly the most popular social media network of them all).
So, choose a platform based on where your target audience is active and then decide which ones to focus on - and master them. Do not stretch yourself too thin across too many networks.
3. Publish relevant content; measure, rinse and then repeat
Once you have chosen your platform you can focus on what type of content you’re going to publish. Your content should be a balance between what capabilities you have as a small business and what content your audience is wanting to see, engage with and share.
Facebook insights and Twitter analytics can give you a clear overview of how well each of your posts perform in terms of reach (how many people saw your post) and engagement (how many people clicked, shared, commented or liked that post).
As your following grows you can then get insights into the interests and hobbies of your audience. You may then wish to produce content based around your customer’s interests.
4. Connect and interact with your fans: build their loyalty
Responding to interactions is important, social media is a two-way conversation.
Engage with real conversations with your fans and you will start to build a community around your brand. By interacting and engaging with your brand community you can start to build a loyal following of brand advocates.
If you’re struggling to engage with new followers on Twitter then why not check out your local #TwitterHour? For example, #HertsHour is every Monday from 8pm – 9pm and is a space for all small business owners in the county to promote their business and see what others in the county have to offer.
5. Don’t hard sell – be a real person
If there is one thing that will turn customers away from your business it is the hard sell.
Social media is not a sales platform. Use social media to build your brand image. Through social media you can create a brand personality that resonates with your audience. Set yourself apart from your competition by communicating in a distinctive tone of voice that echoes your niche in the market.
An example of a brand which does this brilliantly is Paddy Power. Through social media they have managed to build their personality of a quirky, funny and cheeky betting company. Their social media feeds are a mixture of funny videos, entertaining stunts and provocative posters. Whilst not to everyones taste, they certainly get attention.
6. Make your life easier by scheduling and automating your content
As a small business owner, you probably don’t have the time to be active on social media all day.
Fortunately, there are tools to help you. Social media management tools such as Hootsuite, Sprout Social and Bit.ly allow you to schedule your posts and track any URLS you’re using within the posts.
They also allow you to view multiple social media networks at once, so you’ll be able to get a broad overview of your weekly, monthly or daily activity on one dashboard. Better yet, these programs have free versions available which you can take advantage of straight away.
By scheduling your content in advance and having one dashboard to see all your social media activity, you can ensure that social media doesn’t become a drain on your most precious resource, time.
7. Stick with it!
Finally, make sure you don’t give up. Persistence is key. It may feel like a lot to take in at first but, over time, it will help you meet your business goals.
Ensuring a continual approach to publication will allow you to increase your visibility and reach. More interactions and engagements with your content will result in increased sales leads. A consistently conveyed personality will build a distinctive brand image, allowing your brand to find its voice within your market.