Your business is brand new. It’s flourishing. Clients are in and out the door, and the solutions you sell are buzzing in the right minds while wallets are gently opening in your direction. But how can you maintain that momentum? Learn the secret of success by harnessing the power of social media.
How can you make sure traditional ‘feast or famine ‘startup stress doesn’t happen to you? Or at least not so dramatically? Well, other than good budgeting, planning and marketing, there is another solution: social media. The statistics point to its veracity and capability for small businesses. The experts often tout its necessity and opportunity. Small businesses need to invest in social media for business, and here are 10 steps to the best possible results:
1. Social Media Drives Traffic
Data from the Shareaholic platform shows that referral traffic to publishers has seen social overtake search. Loosely translated – social media is sending people to your website. The statistic is new and may yet see search once again overtake social, but for now, it is in the lead. If you want people visiting your site, especially if your business is in online retail, then social media is the tool you need to get them there. Remember, your website might actually be the very last place people discover your business. Word of mouth, whether physically or digitally, has never been so powerful.
2. Social Media Has People’s Attention
There are around 3.17 billion people using the internet and 2.3 billion are active on social media. Consider there are around 12 new mobile social users added every second. Social media for business really is a no brainer. So where are you?
3. Be Active On Social Media
Tom Wishart, from Smarter Digital Marketing, says: “Make sure you are active. People expect businesses to be engaged and contactable through social media these days. Although this does vary from industry to industry, inactivity can lead to the death of a business.” It’s also important to ensure that alongside activity there is quality. Potential customers will judge the business against the content on social media so set the brand apart with good spelling, grammar and punctuation – and originality. Be there often, engage and be well, sociable.
4. Choose The Right Platform
One of the most important factors in devising a strong strategy in social media for business is platforms. You need to ensure you are sitting in the correct space to reach your customers. Jonny Lawrence, Digital Marketing Expert, Logic4Training, says: “For tradespeople whose customers are often members of the public searching for their services online, Facebook and Google+ are the two main players.
You need to be active in the places where your consumers are active. If a potential customer searches for your trade locally, your business is more likely to feature high up the search listings if you have an active Google+ page.” Some disagree, Vivienne Neale another Digital Marketing Expert says, “Don’t underestimate Pinterest. It drives masses of traffic to websites and the ‘half-life’ of pins can last for months. Choosing to ignore this platform is doing so at your own peril.”
Tip: Use the tool ‘Google My Business’ to create a page on Google+, appear on Google Maps and in local search results.
5. Define Your Objectives
To develop a rich social media for business presence, you should know exactly what your goals are, and how to achieve them. Sit down and ask yourself what you want your social media activity to deliver. Is it more hits? Is it footfall through your physical store? Is it clicks to your eCommerce site? Each of these questions will help you to define your content, long-term strategy and even the platforms you use.
“This will give your actions more purpose,” says Col Skinner, Digital Consultant, Profoundry. “It is going to maintain consistency in what you do and how you do it. It will also reduce the amount of trial and error and time wasting - something you can’t afford.”
6. Monitor The Social Networks
While social media for business does ultimately focus on how people can engage with your content and brand, it is also where the brand (that’s you) can look back at the customer to find out what they think. It is a realm littered with valuable data that your business can harness for better results.
“Social media is unfiltered and generates enormous amounts of data about your customers in real time,” says Andrew Jervis, Founder, Click Mechanic. “By monitoring social media, you both gain insight into how your brand is perceived and it can open up ideas for potential new business opportunities.” Make use of hashtags, lists and social mentions. People will discuss you and if you don’t monitor what’s being said huge damage could be done to your reputation unless you move swiftly.
7. Reach Out And Engage
Constantly look to expand your follower base. The maths is simple – the more people following your platform, the more reach your brand has and the greater its impact. Wishart adds that: “The volume of posts is also significant. Although no-one likes to feel they are being spammed, too little activity from a business can result in them fading from the public consciousness.” But don’t just add followers for the sake of it. A smaller, committed and highly engage audience is worth more than thousands of dormant or little used accounts.
8. Find Out Where To Start
There are some impressive resources out there on the internet. Many of them are free and will help you develop social media for business skills. Wishart recommends reading up on a case study posted to Reddit which shows how one startup did brilliantly with social media. Lawrence suggests keeping it as simple as possible to avoid feeling overwhelmed.
“Facebook is a good starting point as you may already be familiar with its layout and functions,” he adds. “When starting out, it’s best to learn as you go.” However, Facebook is very much pay to play and can be costly. Without paid promotions, organic traffic can be very thin.
9. Test Different Formats, Play Around
Skinner suggests that by trying out different formats with social media for business, then you will be able to gain a clearer picture into which elements work and which don’t.
“It will also move your assumptions into truths and help you understand more about what delivers for your business,” he adds. “This reduces the amount of wasted budget and time, both of which are precious resources for startups.” Undertake A/B testing to see what posts work best and then find the formula that is effective for your audience.
10. Never Do This…
There are a few things you shouldn’t do when setting out on social media for business. The first is to submit lazy, sloppy content which has no relevance to the brand. It won’t engage, it won’t sell and it may put customers off. The next is to avoid delivering poor customer service, especially not on social media where everyone can see. Remember the ‘social’ in social media. If you broadcast all the time you will be considered egocentric. Be generous, be sociable and be present.
“One of the biggest mistakes you can make is spamming,” concludes Wishart. “Any content you post needs to be relevant, human and valuable to your customer. Otherwise they will just scroll past or, even worse, unfollow you.”