Social media – love it or hate it, it’s here to stay and it can have a massive impact on the success of your business. I have worked in the social media world for several years now and fully appreciate how overwhelming it can be to dedicate time and effort to maintaining a strong social game, particularly when it seems like the rules of this game are constantly changing.
I understand that for those running their own small business, getting started on social media might just seem like yet another task to add to a never-ending to-do list. So, to get you started I’ve put together some helpful tips for business owners to start building their social media presence.
Why should my business be on social media?
Social media serves a wide range of purposes and is an effective and manageable tool for small business. The greatest benefits of social media for small business are flexibility and agility when it comes to communicating with your customers and acquiring new customers. You control how much time, money and energy you want to invest and can do it all from your computer or the palm of your hand.
Social media is a visual representation of your brand, direct to your customers. By simply sharing content that is relevant to your product or service you can build awareness and shift people’s perceptions of your brand. In fact, in doing so you can even build customer rapport and trust by adding a “human” element to your brand.
Engaging with your customers on a platform they are comfortable with is another great benefit of social media. You can use social media to communicate urgent updates to your customers, for example, if your website was experiencing issues, or to let them know of upcoming events. Likewise, more and more customers are turning to social media as their first stop when seeking assistance from a brand.
Social media also helps with the item that’s probably the most important aspect to all small-business owners – growing your business. Facebook and Instagram ads are an effective acquisition tool with specific targeting options available. You can also access in-depth analytics for all your campaigns so it is easy to understand which ads are working and which might need adjustments.
I can’t keep up with social – where do I even start?
Before you get started with social media it’s a good idea to work out what resources and assets will be required to maintain your social media presence. Likewise, you should also have a think about how much time and budget you’d be willing to dedicate to running your social media accounts. Here, I’ll run through some key items for consideration.
Budget: How much money would you be willing to spend each month on social media? It is free to open, manage and share content on almost all social media accounts including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. However, when it comes to platforms like Facebook and Instagram you will find it challenging to cut through the virtual noise if you’re not putting any money behind your activity (what we’d call an organic approach). I recommend setting some loose guidelines for a dollar figure you’d be happy with spending and outlining the type of result you’d like to see and then experimenting with audiences to see what you can achieve.
Community management: Build it and they will come! More activity on your social media accounts means more customer service management will be required. What kind of resourcing do you have available to manage the queries and potential complaints coming to your pages? If you’re a one-person show, can you set up some time each day that you commit to managing your social media accounts?
A great tip is to set yourself up with an FAQ sheet that you or whoever is managing your social media accounts can use to answer the most commonly asked questions on your pages without too much thought required. This also helps ensure consistency in your messaging!
Your brand: Social media really is the gateway to your brand. Before beginning to share content on social media it is important that you have a good understanding of what your brand stands for and how you’d like it to come across to your customers. What images do you think best reflect your business? If you could give your brand a voice, what would it say?
Creative assets: Basically, where are you going to find the images you want to showcase on your platforms? Owned assets (such as your own photography) are fantastic as these are unique to your brand and probably best capture what it is your business offers! If you don’t have any owned assets you can easily source stock imagery from providers such as iStock or Adobe or use websites such as Canva to create unique images for ads and posts.
Platforms: Where on social do you want to be? For most brands it is not necessary to be active across all social media platforms so it’s important to decide which one will work best for you. Below I have broken down the main social media platforms and why they may or may not work for you.
Choosing a platform
Facebook: Consider Facebook your one-stop shop. Advancements to the platform over the past few years means you can engage with your customers in many ways, from information about your brand to capturing leads and even making sales.
Facebook is a marketers dream and you don’t need to be a social media guru to be successful with running ads and content marketing on this platform. The beauty of Facebook is that you can be as simple or as detailed with your advertising as you like. Through Facebook’s campaign manager you can run ads that target people based on their location and interests or create bespoke audiences based on your business’s own data.
Twitter: The platform where short and sweet does the trick! The feature that makes Twitter stand out from other social media sites is its 280 character limit. Considering the character count and how fast-paced Twitter is, it’s a good idea to use this platform for short, to-the-point communication with your audience. Images, videos, GIFs and links can all be shared on Twitter but the real winner is the ability to leverage trending topics through the use of hashtags (#).
Instagram: If your brand is best showcased through vibrant and dynamic imagery then Instagram is the place for you. As with Facebook, you can control how much you spend on Instagram, and the type of person your ads reach. Instagram also benefits from the use of hashtags and is a great way to connect with potential customers through clever use of tagging and careful selection of imagery. You can connect your Instagram and Facebook accounts and manage both from the latter making community management a breeze.
YouTube: A YouTube account is helpful if you have a lot of video content that you want to make available to your customers. You can house all your videos on YouTube, either publically or privately, and embed them in your website, emails and more.
Snapchat: If your target market is Gen Z (born between the mid-90s and mid-00s) then Snapchat could be the right platform for you - it’s estimated that 71% of Gen Z use Snapchat as part of their daily routines. The trick with Snapchat is that anything you add to your story (the equivalent of your page or account) will disappear after 24 hours so to stay visible you need to upload content at least once a day.
LinkedIn: LinkedIn is a great platform to use if you offer a B2B product or service, or if you looking to recruit new hires for your company. It’s important to keep in mind that the majority of those on LinkedIn are in the corporate or professional services. You can choose to set up a LinkedIn account for your business or simply create one under your own name.
If you have any thoughts or questions reach in the discussion thread below. I’d love to hear if there are other areas in social media you’d like to hear more about!
This is brilliant! Let's face it, we are accountants or bookkeepers. We are not marketers. We are good at what we do, but we aren't good at everything. I've been a Business Improvement Consultant for many years, having set up Quality systems and broader Business Management systems for businesses of all sizes and categories. I'm very much into processes and their overall effect on the efficiency and effectiveness of the business.
I'm no good at marketing. I've never understood it - probably because I'm too 'black-and-white', which helps me do what I do best. I need to be more pragmatic to understand marketing, so any help like this is gold for me!
Thanks, Jess. I'll go through this again later (when I'm not babysitting my grand-daughter) and do something about my son-in-law's cleaning business that I'm helping him with.
Maybe this will help you understand where I'm coming from with my other comments elsewhere.
Absolutely Rob. I am glad this is a helpful starting point! If there are any specific areas you (or your son-in-law) would like to learn more about please let me know.