If you run a small business, the chances are that you’re already using social media to some degree or you’re thinking about social media but you’re not sure where to start to get the most out of it. There’s no doubt that social media can be a massive time hoover, especially if you don’t have a plan for what you’re doing. So, how can you use social media in a way that benefits your business?
We’ve put together five smart social media strategies that we think would work for any small business:
- Understand each platform
Before you can get really savvy about your social media use, you will need to spend some time looking at the different platforms and understanding how they work and who uses them. In our opinion it’s better to do one or two social media platforms well than to spread yourself too thinly by trying to maintain a presence on every platform. In our experience, this often leads businesses into an initial flurry of activity that quickly fades out.
Here’s an overview of the main social media platforms used by small businesses:
- Facebook – The platform has 44 billion monthly active users (24 million in the UK), 65% of which visit it every day for approximately 21 minutes. A staggering 91% of 15- to 34-year-olds use Facebook, while 45% of the over 65-plus age group are regular users. There’s a 42%/58% split of men/women on the platform, and 50 million Facebook pages, 40 million of which represent small businesses.
Facebook is a great platform if you’re marketing directly to consumers and it tends to be the main platform people turn to if they have a customer service issue. With Facebook, you can vary your content and have complete control over what you post. The one major downside is that, thanks to Facebook’s algorithms, it takes some trial and error to maximise the reach of your posts.
You can read out blog on how to create a Facebook page for your business here.
- Twitter – Twitter is a much faster-moving social media platform where you can post news and views in short statuses (Tweets) of 140 characters or less. Twitter is great for keeping up with trending information, connecting with influencers, sharing news and articles, and networking. In fact, throughout the week you will find a large number of Twitter networking hours dedicated to specific topics, industries, interests and business-types.
According to the latest stats (June 2015), Twitter has 302 million active monthly users and 100 million people use the platform daily. Interestingly, 44% of users have an account but have never sent a Tweet, using it instead as a source of information. If you plan to use Twitter, it can take a few days to acclimatise but many businesses love it as a tool for engagement, reputation building and networking.
- LinkedIn – According to the latest stats (March 2015), LinkedIn has approximately 347 million users worldwide, making it the seventh most popular social network and the world’s largest professional network.
If you want to use social media to connect with other businesses, influencers or to build your reputation within your industry then LinkedIn may be the best platform to place your attention.
- Pinterest – 72.8 million people use Pinterest and 85% of them are women. As of May 2015, there were approximately 500,000 businesses using Pinterest and yet 67% of the content pinned on Pinterest comes from business websites. Apparently, 83% of Pinterest users would rather follow a brand than a celebrity, and 52% refer to Pinterest before making an in-store purchase.
Pinterest is particularly effective if you sell products that lend themselves to pinnable images, although there are service businesses that use Pinterest very effectively.
- Other platforms you might want to consider include Google+, Instagram and
- Brand your profiles
Once you decide which platform(s) you want to build your small business’s presence on first, it’s a good idea to think carefully about how you want to communicate your brand identity. All of your social media pages should have a consistent brand that echoes the brand customers will find on your website, in your newsletter or even on your printed stationery. The idea is that however people come across your company, they have the same experience of your brand from seeing the same logo and images to reading a consistent ‘About’ description and contact details.
- Be consistent
The number one secret to social media success is consistency. Too often, you’ll see businesses embarking on social media with a flurry of activity that they can’t maintain – all their work comes to nothing when they suddenly go quiet or only post sporadically.
How often you post fresh content will depend, to a degree, on the platform. Recommendations vary but as a rough rule of thumb you should aim to Tweet three times a day (and retweet at least two interesting Tweets from other pages per day), post to Facebook once or twice a day, and share articles on LinkedIn at least three times a week. With Pinterest, you can create boards that you think your customers will enjoy and should aim to add five new Pins to your boards every day.
Even if you decide fewer posts would be more manageable for the time being, your number one priority should be to post consistently so people know when to look out for your content. There are some great free tools such as Hootsuite and Facebook’s scheduling tool to help you post content in batches, or a social media company such as Grafixbiz can manage this on your behalf.
- Repurpose your content
Every time you write a new article for your website, blog or newsletter, the chances are that it takes up an hour or more of your time. Many companies make the mistake of sending out their newsletter and then never using the content again.
Social media can be a great tool for helping you repurpose your content and drive traffic to your website.
Every time you write a new blog article, try the following:
- Include the article in your newsletter, featuring just an intro paragraph and a link back to your website for anyone who wants to read the article in full.
- Share a link to the article on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and Pinterest.
- Record a video or podcast talking about the article and post it to YouTube or iTunes.
- Use a WordPress plugin such as Inline Tweet Sharer to pull out quotable snippets from your blogs for readers to retweet.
- Quote from your article in your social media statuses.
- Write a related but unique article and publish it to LinkedIn Pulse.
- Measure your success
When you use social media for business, it’s important to track your efforts so you can see whether your time is being wisely spent and which platforms are proving to be the most effective for your business.
There are several ways to do this. Facebook pages are supported by excellent insights information to help you determine the success of posts, pinpoint when your audience is online and what kind of content works best for them. There is also an excellent free tool at www.likealyzer.com that you can use to review your Facebook page and potential improvements.
Pinterest added an Analytics panel fairly recently, which provides information about your most successful pins, number of impressions, audience and more. Similarly, Twitter now offers Analytics data to help you identify your most popular content.
You can see how your profile is ranked on LinkedIn and suggestions for improvement.
We’d also recommend checking Google Analytics regularly. If you look at the Acquisition>Social data, this will show you which social media networks are driving traffic to your website. You might even want to consider setting up Goals in Google Analytics to track how many visits from social media sites turn into sales.
With the right approach, social media affords small businesses the opportunity to have real conversations with real customers, and to have control over their brand. It is possible to create a strong social media presence without spending a penny of your budget or to maximise your budget with a strategic approach or the support of an experienced social media management company. Different solutions work for different businesses.
If you need help with your social media or you want to discuss how your business could best use social media as a marketing channel, why not give us a call on 01733 308198.
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