How should your small business use social media?
The simple fact is that your potential client or customer is using social media. With approximately 40 million people in the UK having social media accounts, your business cannot afford to ignore social media.
The main questions you want to consider are:
- What social media platform is best for my business
- Who am I trying to reach with my social media marketing?
- Who is going to be responsible for posting on our social media accounts?
- What are the key messages we want to get across on social media
One tip that I give my clients is to choose one or two platforms for marketing your small business. You cannot be on all the social media platforms AND run a business at the same time without hiring a small team to help you. How do you know which platform will work best for your business?
Let’s take a brief look at the main social media platforms.
Facebook is arguably one of the most popular social media platforms for small businesses. There are some ground rules to get you started.
- Create a business page for your business. Do not market your business from a personal account. Not only does this look unprofessional, Facebook clamp down on it and can delete or remove your account with zero notice if you are found to be breaking this rule.
- Fill in all the details on your business page – from the cover photo and profile image, to the page settings where you can fill out your website address, physical address, phone number and a brief description of what your business offers in terms of products and services
- Post on your page regularly. You can schedule posts in advance to save time – when you create an ‘update’ on your page, instead of clicking Publish, you can select ‘Schedule’ from the drop down arrow beside ‘publish’. This means you can set aside a time each week to create posts for your page for the whole week or month if you like. Rather than trying to remember to post something every day
- Always use an image on your posts. This will attract more attention in the newsfeed than lines of text.
- Use calls-to-action. You want to engage with your audience and the best way to do that is to ask them to do something –whether it’s visiting your website, contacting you for more information or simply asking their opinion on something.
- Check your notifications regularly. If someone has commented on your post or sent a message, you want to respond to them.
- Always remain professional. If someone makes a negative comment or complaint on your Facebook page, contact them to see if they would like to discuss it over the phone. Never ever get into an argument on your business page.
- Create or join Facebook groups. If you can imagine your Facebook page is a public noticeboard, then a Facebook group is your community group. Facebook groups are a brilliant way of interacting with other small business owners, and also of engaging with your own audience. If you have a group, you can now link it directly to your Facebook page.
- Use Facebook (and all social media) as a way to direct traffic to your own business – whether that is your website or your physical building. The best way to do this is to start creating original content on your own website e.g. blogging or videos and then sharing those posts onto your Facebook page
- Start using video. Video –whether Facebook live or uploaded videos, are given much more prominence in the Facebook newsfeed. If you can ‘go live’ and share stories about your business, your products, your services with your audience, you will grow the ‘know like and trust’ factor between your ideal customer and your brand.
Connect with me on Facebook here
If you want to learn how to use Facebook for Business, this course will walk you through it in clear, concise steps.
Twitter is a micro-blogging platform. What does that mean? You can write tweets that are up to 280 characters long, so your messages on Twitter have to be concise. This is a skill that can be learned! The top tips for using Twitter as a small business are:
- Choose your Twitter handle to fit your business name. Your handle is the @name you use on Twitter. e.g. @socialbeeni or @smallbizSatUK. This is how other accounts can tag you in their tweets, or find you on Twitter
- Choose a cover photo and profile pic. If you are the sole face of your business, consider using your own photo as your profile picture – remember that people buy from people. Your logo can be used as your cover photo.
- Fill out your bio – this is where you can add your website, your main products or service, and how people can contact you.
- Use Hashtags. Hashtags are a way of identifying topics/conversations on Twitter. It is better to use existing hashtags that to invent your own. For example, #smallbusiness
- Add up to three hashtags to your tweet but not more. You can use a free service such as hashtagify.me to identify hashtags that are relevant to your business.
- Tweet regularly. The speed of Twitter is very different to other social media accounts. If you send a similar tweet out five times in one day, each time it is tweeted out, a different audience will see it. Do not worry about over tweeting.
- Find and join Twitter chats or Twitter hours. A Twitter Hour is a set hour in the week where likeminded twitter accounts get together to discuss a topic. In terms of small business, this could be regional chats such as #BelfastHour or industry chats such as #WIBNHour (women in business hour for female entrepreneurs) When you first join a Twitter hour, introduce yourself to the host and use their hashtag in all your tweets for that hour – your contribution will be picked up and shared by the host.
- Follow others in your industry and share their tweets with your audience. Twitter is a great place to connect with other entrepreneurs and grow your own network. People will generally reciprocate and share your tweets too.
- A retweet is when you share someone else’s tweet. If you do retweet something of interest to your own audience, consider making your own comment on it first.
- If you want to schedule out your tweets in advance, use the free service Tweetdeck and set up all your tweets for the week.
To learn how to use Twitter for Business, click here
Instagram is the quickest growing social media network for businesses full stop. It is a very visual platform but you don’t need to be a photographer to use it. Here are some top tips:
- Fill out your bio! You have room for one URL in your Instagram account so either make sure it is your website, or you can use a service such as linktr.ee to be able to add more than one link
- Use hashtags. However, don’t use them on your initial post – when you post your image with some wording, as soon as you have posted it, then add in a second comment with all of your hashtags. You can use up to 30!
- Write a microblog for your Instagram posts. The posts that get the most engagement on Instagram for business, are the ones where you write a few lines for your audience. This will encourage them to respond in some way.
- The Instagram feed works off an algorithm. The posts with the most comments are the ones that rise to the top of the feed. So you want to make your post engaging!
- Try to post on Instagram once a day
- Interact and engage on other accounts –this will not only bring your account to the attention of the person you are commenting on but also puts your account in front of THEIR followers.
- Instagram has filters for all of your images – so when you upload your image, you can check which filter looks best for your photo.
- Use hashtagify.me again to check which hashtags work best for your industry
- Use Instagram for behind the scenes images as well as your gorgeous finished products – people love to see inside a small business
- You can use video on Instagram – Instagram stories are short videos you can create for your audience that will remain for only 24hours.
Follow me on Instagram here
For those of you who are building a business aimed at more ‘professional’ audience, LinkedIn is an essential social media platform. LinkedIn is seen as more of a professional network, and as such, the tone of your updates and posts will differ from other social media platforms.
- Create your profile on LinkedIn – there are sections on your employment history, your education, your skills and key achievements. Fill out as many sections as you can.
- You can upload your own contacts from your email accounts to start building your network
- When you send a LinkedIn connection request, always personalise it. For example, if you met someone at a local networking event, you might say ‘Hi L*** I would like to connect after we chatted at the business breakfast this week’
- You can create a company page on LinkedIn as well –however if you are a solo entrepreneur, your personal account will be fine
- Publish updates on your business regularly. As with the other accounts, try to put a call to action so that your network will engage with you and start a conversation.
- You can publish articles on LinkedIn that will show off your expertise. You can repurpose blogposts from your own website here as well as writing original content.
- LinkedIn is not the place for oversharing information about your personal life. Although the tone of LinkedIn posts have certainly become less formal, keep your personal issues to your personal social media accounts!
- Join groups on LinkedIn that relate to your industry – you can make great connections and potential collaborations with others in your sphere of influence. You can even start your own.
- When you are making updates to your LinkedIn profile, you can turn off the notifications for your network so they are not given every little update you make. This is under Privacy in your settings.
- Share relevant news articles and magazine pieces to your network and make your own comment on them to invite conversation.
Before you start using social media to market your business, you should draft out a strategy which answers the questions:
- What platform will we use?
- Who is our audience?
- What are our key messages?
- Who is responsible for updating the social media platforms?
This doesn’t need to be complicated, a one-page outline will do! When you know what social media platforms you want to use, and what your key messages are, make sure that everyone involved with your business is aware of the strategy.
For a free content calendar to help you plan out your social media content, visit https://louisebrogan.com/how-to-plan-your-content-calendar/
If you are ready to take the next step and build your business online, learn more about using social media and beyond, check out the Social Bee Academy today.