Paul Hart Written by

The Small Business Guide to Social Media

Posted on 16th June, 2016 in Social Media, Digital

In the last decade, the business landscape has changed drastically. Online presence matters a lot more than it did before, and that includes the rise of social media. It’s really only been within the past decade or so that social media has gone from startups to daily habit, but it feels like it’s been around forever.

While social media is nothing new, it can often still be a daunting venture, especially with how social media can be used for business. Even if you have social media accounts for personal use, it’s still a bit of a learning curve when starting to use them as tools to promote your business.  And, if you run a small business chances are your resources are already stretched and you don’t have the budget to have a full time member of staff dedicated to social media.

Even if you have a member of staff that does social media, my guess is that it’s an additional responsibility that often ends up on the back burner because employees now more than ever are incredibly busy. The good news is that social media is relatively easy to scale to your resources and doesn’t have to be unmanageable. We’re going to look at how to make the most of social media and help get you started. 

Start small


Set yourself achievable goals. It may seem silly or pointless to set yourself a small goal, but if you don’t start smart then you might not get started at all. Even if you only have time to post on your social media once a week, that’s great. Once you get going, you can always build up and do more posting.  Make sure you set aside that time and stick to it. Building it into your schedule makes it a habit, which means you’re more likely to keep up with posting it.

Be consistent

Building on the point above, consistency is important in building your social media presence. It builds more trust with your followers if they see you are keeping your posts current and updating regularly. If people are following you on social media, they are trusting you with their time and they expect to hear from you. It’s a great way to stay on people’s radar. 

Automate, automate, automate

This will be especially helpful if you are time poor, but after speaking with people working in small businesses, a lot of them don’t know about automation tools that will help streamline their social media. One great one is Buffer which allows you to cross post links on multiple social media channels. Facebook also has a scheduler feature which allows you to put a post in to go out at a later date. Tweetdeck is another tool that helps make more effective use of your Twitter. If This, Then That while not solely for social media is another great tool that can help streamline automation through the creation of ‘recipes’ based on common actions.

Pick the right network 

It can seem daunting to keep up with social media, especially since there are so many networks out there now. The good news is you don’t have to have an active presence on all of them. Does your target audience hang out on Snapchat? Then it’s probably a good fit for your business but another network like LinkedIn for example, might not work as well for you. It may be tempting to be on all the networks but it will be easier to build a brand when you are able to engage with your customers. 

Branding


Keep your branding consistent and well, on brand. Make sure that all your profiles have logos and images that are network specific and cropped to the right sizes. Hubspot has a great comprehensive guide to image sizes on social media. It may seem trivial but using images that are the right size will keep your profiles looking professional and trustworthy. Customers can pick up on when you’ve tried to cut corners and may wonder if that carries over into how you run your company.

A year from now, you will wish you had started today - Karen Lamb

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Optimising posts

There are a few simple ways to optimise your posts to get better engagement from your audience. When posting updates and articles including images helps to boost your click through rate. Humans are largely visual, so giving them an image that relates to the article will help pique their curiosity, and making them more inclined to read your content.  

Another way to engage visitors is to add text to posts and keep it conversational. Offering your thoughts on a link and then asking your audience what they think helps keep the channels of communication open. Including a call to action is also helpful, particularly if you are trying to direct viewers to your website to complete a specific action.

Be responsive

If you are on social media, it’s likely because you want to engage with your audience and build your brand, which means you need to make time for responding to your visitors. You need to respond to comments, messages and tweets in a timely fashion, otherwise you risk alienating your audience and when that happens they might go somewhere else. Setting up alerts and notifications will help you keep track of when new interactions happen on your social channels.

Stay up to date

Keeping the information on your social media profiles will help build your credibility and it’s another place for people to go to find your address, phone number and website. As your business grows, it’s always a good idea to refresh your biography and profile page to keep that relevant as well. And updating your profile and banner picture is another way to keep your profiles fresh and interesting.

Be generous

Just like in real life, people don’t like it when you talk about yourself all the time and customers no longer expect to be sold to all the time. People expect social media to be well “social”, because it’s supposed to be more like a conversation rather than a one way conversation like a lot of traditional marketing used to be.

Your customers expect to see content that will help solve a problem that they have, much like they would expect your products to. It doesn’t have all be content that you have created yourself but if it’s content you can put your personal spin on and know it would help or inspire your audience, it might be a good fit for your brand.

Pick the right time

One of the factors of having success with social media is picking the right times to post your updates. It’s something that is often an afterthought (or not considered at all!) as small businesses often post their updates live when they have the time to. Using the automation tools mentioned previously, you’ll be able to pick the time that out updates go out to match up with the times you’ll get the most engagement from them. While each industry and company are going to get different results, Hubspot has put together an infographic about the best times to post on social media  to help get you started.

Data is your friend

It's important to know what's working and what's not working with your social media. Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn all have their own Analytics dashboards and Google Analytics also tracks visitors to your site from social networks. This will help you know what networks are getting the most engagement, which posts are the most popular and where your social traffic is coming from. Having this information will help you to get the most from your social media work. If something's not working for you, it's time to change tactics.

Conclusion

We hope that this post gives you the confidence to start doing social media for your small business. Like most things in marketing it’s a process of trial and error and figuring out what works and what doesn’t, so don’t get discouraged if it takes a bit of time to hit your stride.

And if you need any advice, get in touch. We’d be happy to help.

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