Using Social Media to market your business
“Social media is changing the way we communicate and the way we are perceived, both positively and negatively. Every time you post a photo, or update your status, you are contributing to your own digital footprint and personal brand.” – Amy Jo Martin
In today’s digital age it’s important for every business, big or small, to consider social media as part of their online presence and marketing strategy. For smaller businesses, in particular, it can be a cheap or low-cost way to let people know what you do, but on the down-side, it can be time-consuming, particularly if you don’t really know what you’re doing and why.
On a very basic level, social media can be a great way of increasing traffic to your website, and making sure that you can be found on the internet. Many companies now use social media widgets as a way of making sure that new content is regularly added to their websites, but what works even better is to make sure that you’re posting regularly to a news or blog page and sharing that to all your social media profiles.
On a more sophisticated level, many social platforms now have so much functionality that you can actually run your business or organisation from your page or profile (like a mini website).
Facebook for example, is the 3rd most popular website in the world with over 2 billion users worldwide (and it owns and integrates with Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp) and from your page you can advertise, promote events, take bookings, sell products, take calls and messages, advertise jobs, create special offers, promotions and competitions, seek reviews and send out polls and questionnaires, host groups and communities, as well as generally sharing information and telling people about what you do. And you can tailor what you do to specific groups, profiles and demographics (businesses as well as individuals) and instantly see who has viewed, clicked, bought or interacted … giving you great intelligence about your customers and stakeholders.
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The key benefit then for using social media, instead of other marketing activity or as part of a marketing mix is that it gives you a direct line to a specific audience whether it’s customers, partners, suppliers or influencers and brand ambassadors. And it’s all about engaging, interacting, building relationships and having conversations rather than just sending out or broadcasting information to unknown people. People are more likely to buy or work with companies that they feel they know, trust and have a connection with.
If you think of it as virtual networking from the comfort of your home or office, you can’t go wrong. But, rather than having to walk into a room of people and start a conversation, you can quickly and easily find and target specific people (including suppliers, sellers and competitors) who’ll be interested in what you do and make new useful contacts. In addition you can talk direct to customers and get reviews and feedback, gain market intelligence and insight, and build up a loyal customer base and even a fanbase of people who you know will share and talk about what you do.
And the same principles apply whether your a business to business supplier or business to consumer supplier (businesspeople are people too and many are regular social media users). The thing to remember is that most social media platforms are free and are designed to make money from advertising, which means that they want businesses to use them too. Most now have an option to create a business profile rather than a personal profile, and tools just for business users.
Getting Started with Social Media
As with any marketing or promotional activity, the key place to start is with a plan. You need to know how social media fits into your wider sales and marketing plan, and what you want to get from it. You also need to know who you’re trying to target or network with and where they are (i.e. which social media platform they’re likely to be on).
And if you’re new to social media, it’s probably a good idea to pick one platform and start with that rather trying to do too much.
We’ve written a full article on getting started with social media – click to access.
Which Social Media Platform? – Here’s the Top Three
Each social media platform is different, with a different feel and different users, and so whilst many companies are on lots of platforms, it’s a good idea to start by picking the one that suits you and your company most and managing your activity on that one really well. More platforms are being developed and launched all the time, and they go in and out of fashion, but as a general rule, stick to the bigger and more established ones unless you have a genuine business reason for being on something new and funky.
If you’re starting from scratch, it’s probably best to look at the top 3 platforms first – Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.
Which Platform? Other social platforms to consider
The other main platforms to consider are Google+, Instagram, Pinterest, and LinkedIn. Each has its own pros and cons, and advantages and disadvantages which you need to consider. For example, do you you need to be found on Google (Google+), are you all about the ‘visual’ side of things (Instagram and Pinterest) or do you need to network with other businesses (LinkedIn).
Take a look at our full article here on other social platforms.
What Makes Good Content?
Social media is by nature a visual medium and most platforms have been created on the basis of sharing images and video. They’re packaged in handy mobile apps that we carry everywhere with us on our mobiles and tablets, and we can quickly and easily take a photo or record a video and upload it to our friends and followers.
Read more about ‘good content‘ here.
How Do I Make The Most of My Social Media?
If you’ve done some research and created a plan, chosen your platform, and started posting some quality, engaging and consistent content, then you’re already on the right track. Like anything, it takes time to start seeing some results, however there are things you can do to improve your chance of success. The key is to keep monitoring, researching, learning, tweaking and improving, and avoid the common pitfalls.
We’ve published another article on making the most from social media here.
And ultimately, if you’re struggling, then get some help, advice or training. Many people make the mistake of thinking that because they’re on social media already, they know what they’re doing, but there’s a big difference between posting pictures of our holidays and nights out for our friends and family to see, or sharing the odd cute video or inspirational quote. As with any other promotional activity (such as PR, web design, copywriting, advertising, brand design) there are specialists out there who know what they’re doing and can bring real benefits to your business.
When it comes to social marketing it is all about being where your customers are when they’re ready to buy. If you chose to use social media, don’t let it swallow all your time, remember you ultimately need to make sales and this thinking is sometimes lost on social. Seek professional advice on HOW to get social channels working for your business – doing it yourself often fails to achieve results.
Straight talking advice on social media from Yorkshire Powerhouse
Getting Started with Social Media - As with any marketing or promotional activity, the key place to start is with a plan setting out your intended goal Read >
Which Social Media Platform - Each social media platform is different ... it’s a good idea to start by picking the one that suits you and your company most Read >