When it comes to running a small business, we know that time is often short and resources low. But with 44 million active users in the UK alone according to Statista, we think social media is a worthy investment.
Social media gives your business an online profile without having to have a website – especially useful if you haven’t got much budget to work with – and acts as a gateway to your customers. In fact, Growth Gurus found 78% of small businesses use social media to attract new customers and engage current ones.
Not only that, it also enables you to connect with your customers by talking to and responding to them in real-time – which, ultimately, will help you provide a better service and keep customers coming back. Vital when you consider 71% of consumers are likely to recommend a company following a good social media experience with them, according to Get Ambassador.
Beyond that, it also allows you to promote a range of products to a wider audience. For example, Disruptive Advertising found that 64% of online shoppers decided to buy a product after seeing a video about it on social media, so you could post videos demonstrating or reviewing products.
Social media can even help you benefit from (free!) word of mouth advertising and reviews – with 50% of shoppers making purchases based on recommendations which they have found via various social platforms, according to Yahoo Small Business.
And the best news? It’s cheap to set up and run your social media accounts. The figures speak for themselves, so here are our handy tips to help get you started…
There are a number of different social media platforms out there, but you don’t need to use all of them. In fact, it’s better to have just one account that you can manage effectively and put some graft into, rather than several that you only update occasionally.
Here’s a quick overview of the two most popular platforms for smaller businesses looking to target a consumer audience – Facebook and Twitter.
For the majority of people, this will probably be the most familiar social media platform, as many of us use it in our personal lives. But you can also set up a Facebook page for your business which others can then follow and ‘Like’ – so they automatically see new posts that you make in their own Facebook news feed. This enables you to connect with them in multiple ways – promoting offers, running competitions and so on. It also acts as a simple web presence if you don’t have a separate website.
This platform is fast-paced and constantly changing, which often scares people off. But it actually gives you the opportunity to find and engage with potential customers very easily. With Twitter, it’s easy to see other people’s accounts and what they are talking about, making it very simple to get involved in a conversation and make people aware of your business. It’s also especially good for building up a local audience.
You can start by following people who you think may be interested in what you’re talking about – and the aim is that many of them will follow you back or share your content – if you post interesting and relevant ‘tweets’. Again, you can use these posts to promote offers or competitions, and to encourage people to visit your website (if you have one) for more information, by including tracked ‘shortlinks’. You can also tag other accounts, so they will see what you have posted and hopefully engage with you.
So, you’ve got your accounts set up and they’re good to go – now what? Social media is all about making people aware of your business. To ensure you reach the right audience and attract more customers with your activity, there are two key points to consider – engagement and content…
When it comes to engagement, you want to focus less on the number of people that follow you, and more on getting the right people to follow you. Always try to reply personally to comments on your posts or messages to you and offer your opinions and advice to others, in order to build meaningful relationships and expand your audience. It also helps to consistently monitor other related accounts for relevant information that you can share with your own audience or to find conversations that you can get involved with.
‘Content’ is basically the words that you write in your posts and any images you include, as well as any longer articles or blog posts that you might include on your website – for example, a ‘How To’ guide for a specific skill. To help plan ahead and schedule your content, try to create a ‘content calendar’ if possible – this will ensure that you can keep up a regular presence on your chosen channel(s).
Ideally, 80% of your content should be helpful and valuable to your audience – this could be anything from product demos or reviews. The other 20% can then be self-promotional content, such as customer testimonials – just be careful not to overdo the ‘sales’ angle too much.
Be sure to format your posts and other content especially for each platform as well. Videos work well for Facebook, whilst Twitter revolves around short and sweet snippets of text.
Images work well for both and are more likely to grab your audience’s attention and you could even try using GIFs – a type of animated image. These often add a bit of humour to your content and help bring it to life. You can find loads to use here: https://giphy.com/.
And last but certainly not least, always keep your content catchy, concise and relevant – no matter which platform you choose to use. This will increase your chances of getting your content shared online, thus allowing your business to grow.