So you think it’s not worth investing in a social media presence for your small business? Think again!
Social media can be a fantastic way to strengthen your relationship with customers, increase sales and boost your brand. Admittedly it’s no magic wand - like all good things it takes a bit of work to start reaping the rewards.
Do I even need social media for my business?
In short, yes! Apart from anything, social media is not the flash in the pan some thought it might be. It’s here to stay and it allows us to connect with customers in a way we couldn’t before.
The potential to raise brand awareness and build customer loyalty is huge if managed correctly and the ability to share messages about our businesses to potentially thousands of people at the click of a button is pretty amazing.
Best of all it’s free to set up an account on platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, so if you are a little reticent about trying, you can dip your toe in the water without breaking the bank.
That said, social media doesn’t offer miracles. To get results you need to work at it and offer interesting content consistently.
Should I have an account for each platform?
No. The key to success when using social media for a small business is understanding who it is you are trying to connect with. Then you can focus on the platforms that your potential customers use.
Social media is hungry for content. Spread yourself too thinly across too many channels and you will fail. Focus on the one or two channels that really meet your needs and the results can be impressive.
Different social media channels attract different audiences, and engage with them in different ways.
Social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are great for forming a conversation with your customers.
Pinterest and Instagram are photo sharing sites which rely heavily on imagery. If you are selling something like cupcakes or clothing which lend themselves to bright interesting photography they will be perfect for you. But if your product or service isn’t very visual it would be wise to look elsewhere.
Interactive media such as TikTok and Snapchat traditionally attract a younger audience but producing great content can be time consuming.
The best approach is to test and learn. Decide which platform is most likely to reach your customer base and trial it for a few months before assessing how it is working for you. But don’t forget this means consistently posting interesting content - not just one or two sales posts every few weeks.
What should I say?
If you want to attract and keep your social media audience engaged, avoid just using your accounts to sell, sell, sell.
Instead intersperse your sales posts with interesting content related to your product or service.
Ask questions, use polls, share memes, link to interesting online articles - but always make sure you research content from other sites before you share it to avoid potential embarrassment in the long run.
Think about what the voice of your brand should sound like. Do you want to be chatty and informal, or a knowledgeable voice offering a professional opinion? Your posts should reflect this tone.
Most importantly only post what you are quite happy for the world to see and associate with your brand. With the viral nature of social media, your posts and messages can travel far and wide in the blink of an eye.
How often should I post?
Using social media is a marathon not a sprint. Posting consistently interesting content will be what wins you rewards. Don’t post all of your contents on one day and then nothing for another six weeks.
Remember you are building a relationship with your online followers, and this will take time, so don’t lose heart if at first you are posting to a fairly small audience.
People often say there is no point in using social media for their business as no one sees their posts.
It’s true to say that platforms like Facebook are very much in control of what users get to see, using what are called algorithms.
These work on the basis that we all follow thousands of pages and if we each saw everything all those pages post we would be swamped. So Facebook sets rules, or algorithms, to show users just the posts they think they will find the most interesting and are most relevant to them.
As Sprout Social explains, Facebook’s algorithms are ever evolving, forcing brands to roll with the punches and adapt the way they connect with customers.
"This might be daunting but it shouldn’t diminish Facebook’s importance to your social efforts. As part of the new algorithm’s goal of driving more authentic interactions, brands are expected to promote quality content that drives real interactions and shares.”
Sprout Social has a detailed guide on how to adapt to (and outsmart) the Facebook algorithm.
Should I boost posts?
There is nothing wrong with paid ads on social media. Small Business Geek’s Liz Smith explains: “If you plan them properly they can be a really cost effective way of advertising. When Facebook suggest that you boost a post though, it’s often not one that you’ve thought through as an ad. It might even be a funny meme or something that isn’t going to get you any business, so I’d give those a miss.”
Social Media platforms know so much about their users, and with paid ads you can really target your customer groups.
To get the most from your ads, follow these simple steps:
SBG’s Liz Smith added: “Once you get in your stride, you will soon find social media doesn’t have to be daunting or stressful. It can be a place where you really get to engage with your customers, helping to shape your business for the future.”
Need a hand?
The Small Business Geek team are social media marvels! We can do anything from tweet on your behalf once in a while to offer a full management package which will cover all your social media bases and get your product or service noticed. Get in touch to find out how we can best help.