10 social media tips for small business owners
These days most small business owners understand the importance of having a social presence, but not all of them know how to use them effectively. We too are certainly still growing our own social presence yet along the way we have learnt a few tips that have helped us get a handle on the ‘social side’ of things.
Businesses can use social media and digital marketing to raise brand awareness, promote services, lead generation, drive traffic to a website and build trust with customers.
It’s not just a one-size fits all approach though. Whether it is Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Google +, taking some time to research the methods and customs that go with each social channel will help establish a much more focussed approach from the start.
This list will walk you through the key ways businesses can use social media and provide a few handy tips for anyone who might be starting out in social media.
Put simply when it comes down to it, social media is actually just another tool that can
- find prospective customers
- convert them
- and keep them
So let’s work through our top 10 social media tips for start-ups and try and get those followers (prospective customers) to convert.
1. Define your audience:
This involves a bit of research and listening so you can intimately get to know your potential customers.
Begin by defining and characterising individual profiles. Consider factors such as gender, interests, professions etc. and think about the marketing messages you want to use to connect to that audience. This might sound like an obvious point, but knowing your audience will help you to quickly define which social networks your audience and customers most commonly use, as well as help you to mould your tone of voice.
2. Start small & grow from there:
When it comes to social media it is not as simple as just creating loads of profile pages on different platforms to show your customers that you are ‘online’. This approach would be quite counter-productive especially if you don’t yet have the time or ability to keep them all updated.You need to remain active, understand the differences between each platform and manage each program appropriately to get the most out of the followers you gain. Managing a social channel takes time and planning so rather than registering four or five at once, define one or two channels you want to focus on and establish a foundation.
3. Choose your social channels wisely:
Once you have clear and focussed target audience you need to think which platforms you want to concentrate on. Ensure the person updating your profiles understands the tone and brand identity of your company and tailors this to fit in with the social channel in question.
A handy way of differentiating each social channel is by defining each one and their main characteristics.
The rules below simplify the slant and approach for each platform.
We’ve used the topic of cheese as an example. Why not?...
Facebook: I like cheese
Twitter: I eat a lot of #cheese
LinkedIn: I have skills in making cheese
Pinterest: Here’s a photo of my favourite cheeses and cheese recipes
YouTube: Watch me make a cheese fondue
Google +: I am interested in a range of things but specialise in the production and sales of cheese.
Instagram: Here is my trendy photo of a cheese board.
Hopefully you get the gist…
4. Optimize your profiles:
Once you have decided on the social platforms you want to use, ensure that you add relevant, engaging and informative details about your company and services. Make sure you add clear and recognisable information and keep this relatively consistent across each platform. Ensure the images you use for your profile pictures and overall look are the same on each platform. Use your business name for all your business pages and ensure your citations (name, address and phone number) are all presented in the same way and the Google map location is correct and precise. Keeping this consistency will also help toward your local SEO and help your potential customers find and recognise your business while strenghting an 'image' of you in their minds.
5. Avoid being overly promotional:
Social media platforms are a great place for you to raise awareness, deliver your marketing message and promote your services but it is vital that you don’t just talk about yourself. You will learn quickly that businesses who have a ‘me’ centred approach tend to lose followers as quickly as they gain them. Find a balance, take note of others who are posting relevant and engaging content, interact with them and share their content.
6. Get a Schedule:
As soon as you have more than one social media channel, you will quickly appreciate the benefits of social media / content scheduling. This will help you to post themed content ahead of time and plan your social sharing well in advance.
These days there are number of brilliant scheduling tools that will make your social scheduling easier; Hootsuite, Tweetdeck and Socialflow are 3 user-friendly platforms.
It is difficult to define the amount of times you should post to social channels as each industry and platform varies but with the amount of analytic channels out there, you can quickly get to know when are the optimal times to post and how often.
The key take away here though is to keep it up. Monitor which platforms are working best for your business, not all will be relevant to your industry but allow each of them time to grow before you decide what works for you.
It is no good just creating content and posting it on your website or blog hoping someone will read it. You need to get it out there and in front of all the right people and your potential customers. Using the scheduling tools outlined above will assist you in planning ahead and help you to establish relevant content themes to share with your audience and followers.
Tools such as Hootsuite and Buzzumo are useful as they can help you really get to know your audience, the influencers in your industry and the content they create and share. By searching for topics that are related to your business, you can find relevant followers and influencers to engage with and follow. You can also find the people who are actively interacting and sharing content - follow them! The aim here is to get those people to favourite you, like you and more importantly when they get to know you, share your content.
8. Use images:
The use of images and diagrams in social media has always been a simple & effective way of getting attention. Research produced last year by socialbakers.com noted that over a period of one month “photos made up 75% of all content posted on Facebook pages”. And it is not just Facebook, according to Twitter Media. “Photos boost Retweets by 35%”. The key here is to ensure that the images you use tie in with your message, are of high quality and are of interest to your target audience. Infographics are also great for this as they deliver useful and valuable information and beg to be shared. If you need a bit of extra guidance with your images, check out the awesome Jeff Bullas and his Ultimate guide to using images in social media.
9. Understand your competitors:
Create a list of the competitors in your industry, search social media and monitor what they are doing. By getting to know the actions of your competitors you can begin to build and mould your own strategy and test actions to figure out how you can stand out from them. A handy tip for Twitter is to create and join lists (top right hand side next to tweet button for drop down, create list). Lists can help you organise your own feed and categorise businesses and industries into groups so you can keep a close eye on their actions.
10. Track Performance:
After spending time and energy creating a social strategy, generating tweets, posts, shares and so on you need to make sure that your time and efforts are working for you. From Google analytics, social insights and management systems there are a vast array of tools you can use to track your content marketing and social media efforts. This way you can truly tune in to optimal posting times and really master which types of content work for you and more importantly your followers.