Whether your goal is to spread the word about your new business, capture the attention of new customers, or build a stronger relationship with existing ones, social media marketing can go a long way in helping you achieve your aims.
The term ‘social media’ covers a wide range of platforms. Instead of trying to be everywhere at once, a smarter approach for small businesses involves focusing your efforts on the areas that will have the biggest impact. To help you with this, we’ll cast a spotlight on the three most popular individual platforms for businesses. This will help you understand what they are for, who uses them, and how businesses make use of them. From this, you should have a clearer idea of what platforms should feature in your very own social media strategy.
With an estimated 1.55 billion users worldwide, Facebook is by far the largest social media platform. If you offer goods or services to consumers (as opposed to only selling to businesses), there’s a strong likelihood that Facebook is going to be a useful way of connecting with your audience.
Setting up your business Facebook account is a simple process. Once you are logged into your personal account, select ‘Create Page’ from the dropdown arrow menu in the top right corner. A useful walkthrough guide is available from Facebook for business.
How to gain followers
Your first goal is to build up a group of followers, and your existing customers are the obvious starting point here. As that initial band of supporters interact with your content by ‘liking’ and ‘sharing’ it, those individuals are effectively spreading the word about you to their own contacts. This is helping to increase your exposure. If you don’t have any customers yet, then get your friends and family to help you out.
Marketing your Facebook page
When you launch your Facebook page, publicise it on your website, your business emails, and perhaps by putting signs up in your shop. Make it clear why you are worth checking out on Facebook. It is a source of information and inspiration, or for new products, deals and services.
The challenge is to post content that’s going to get noticed on your followers’ busy news feeds. Especially when your Facebook page is still relatively new, you might want to start with an offer exclusive to Facebook supporters (a percentage discount of their next order, for instance). But remember that special offers lose their appeal if they are repeated too frequently and you are likely to lose followers if your content consists solely of money-off deals.
A multi-faceted platform
Luckily, Facebook is extremely versatile. It is great for sharing content from your blog as well as images, including:
- Inspiring quotes
- Funny memes
- Text information without being subject to a character limit
- Photos of your new products
As well as articles from other sources that you think your audience might be interested in. Whatsmore, you can promote these through advertisements. This gets more eyeballs on your content.
Variety is key
Try and offer variety. Keep an eye on what type of content tends to get likes and shares on competitor sites. Use Facebook Insights to find out which posts people engage with the most and what drives traffic back to your website.
As well as being a networking tool, LinkedIn is also used by business buyers to research products and services. As well as this it is used for asking for suggestions and recommendations, to get the opinions of leading figures in a certain industry, and to make direct contact with potential sellers.
If you sell to businesses, or if you provide professional services such as legal or financial advice to individuals, LinkedIn should form part of your social media strategy. If you haven’t already, create your own LinkedIn profile. Especially if you provide advisory services and you are still a relatively unknown business, potential buyers are likely to use LinkedIn as a way of checking out your personal credentials. You should, therefore, make sure that your personal profile gives a strong reflection of your skills and experience. From your own profile page, follow LinkedIn’s guidance for adding a company page for your business.
Ways to use LinkedIn
LinkedIn works best not as a direct sales platform, but as a way of establishing your authority as an expert in your niche. The LinkedIn groups feature lets you connect with others in your field. It allows you to showcase your knowledge in discussions. You can also use the LinkedIn publishing platform to write about topics connected with your industry. In doing this, you could address some of the broader concerns buyers have when they shop around for services and demonstrate that you understand those concerns.
Whereas Facebook is more about ‘friends’, Twitter tends to be used by individuals more as a way of instantly catching up with what’s happening. It also lets them keep tabs on the people and brands that interest them. Twitter is thought to have around 15 million regular UK users and can be a useful way of connecting with consumers, industry influencers, and business buyers. Read Twitter’s guide to creating a business profile, it’s pretty straightforward.
How can Twitter be used?
The 140-character limit for a tweet encourages short, snappy content. However, you can use tweets to link back to longer content, such as your blog. For an online seller, this can make it ideal for building anticipation before you unveil your latest products, perhaps linking back to your website where you might post further information about the new range. You might also consider ‘Twixclusive’ offers. For example, invite your Twitter followers to redeem a voucher code to get money off their next meal at your restaurant for a limited time.
You can also use Twitter Analytics to find and connect with influencers in your niche. As well as ‘following’ those individuals, you can also browse their followers to extend your network. Read their tweets, provide your input, and tag them in your own tweets. In this way, you increase the likelihood that they will want to follow you. This helps to spread your brand’s exposure, and the chance of striking up a conversation with them — if you want them to write for your blog, for instance.
As well as focusing on one or more of these big three platforms, you might want to supplement your social media strategy by building a presence on an image-based platform such as Instagram and/or Pinterest, to really maximise your reach. To find out more tips on building a social media strategy, head to our help centre.