Holly Jones, Marketing Executive for 1st Choice Insurance, goes through her top tips on how SME’s can get started with Social Media.
It’s overwhelming, it’s a minefield and quite frankly, the last thing on your mind when you’re busy setting up or running your own business. Social Media can cause frustration for lots of people, so why should you even trouble yourself with it?
It’s quite a simple answer really, for starters it’s free, everyone uses it (including your potential customers) and it’s literally everywhere. All day, every day people are scrolling through Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, liking, interacting, and leaving reviews. Did you know that out of 2.4 billion people accessing the web, a massive 74% of them use social media platforms?
One of the great things about social media sites is that they offer you direct access and the opportunity to communicate with potential customers to grow your business following, with little to no cost involved. So, if you are not already promoting your SME through these platforms then perhaps consider the tips below and look at getting yourself started.
Where to begin…
Honestly, Social Media isn’t as difficult as it seems, and it doesn’t need to be complicated, you can achieve a lot even with some very basic input. Many of the tools used for creating content and uploading posts are so easy to use, that it can often be tempting to just put posts up whenever you feel like it or have the time. Nevertheless, as with all marketing, it’s usually a good idea to have a proper plan in place, after all you don’t want to get caught in the trap of spending hours a day on your social media instead of doing your actual job.
When putting together a plan, first thing to look at is setting your goals and objectives. It’s best to create straightforward goals that are specific, easy to measure and achievable. There’s not much point in giving yourself targets you can’t reach and of course you can always set yourself more once you meet them. Look at basing your objectives on aspects that will have a real impression on your business. For example, aim to gather new customers and leads or increase your engagement, rather than simply stacking up likes.
Once you’ve looked at what you want to achieve, it’s wise to research your competition. How do they use their social media? While you don’t want to copy their posts or style, understanding what others have done successfully is a fantastic way to determine the best direction for your content. Finding inspiration from other businesses in different industries to your own is another good method to look at what performs well and what doesn’t. It can also be good to simply ask your followers what they want to see more of, then just give them exactly what they ask for.
Next, produce a social media calendar for your plan, I like to use a simple spreadsheet to keep track of this. A social media calendar helps you post the right content to the right social channels at the right time and also to keep a record of this content for future reference.
You should carry out your own research into the best platforms for you, make sure to think about your trade specifically and also consider the amount of time you’re willing or available to be spending on your Social Media, because although these sites are usually free to use, your time costs money. In my opinion the top platforms to be looking at for most businesses would be Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and possibly Instagram & YouTube if you are going to think about creating video content too.
It’s definitely worth focussing on quality over quantity, and the amount of social media marketing choices for small business might seem vast, but you definitely don’t need to do it all. It is actually more valuable to create quality content across 2 or 3 key platforms than it is to have a minimal presence on every network.
What should I post?
Finding a good balance is the key with content. Lots of people don’t really like the hard sell approach and they’re likely to lose interest quickly if you overwhelm them with constant ‘BUY MY PRODUCT / SERVICE’ on every post. Try starting with the classic 80:20 rule. Utilize 80% of your content to inform, educate, or entertain your following (also known as your audience). Then use the remaining 20% to actually promote your business or product.
Demonstrating your knowledge within your industry is particularly great for content and earning new clientele. For example, why should your follower choose to use your company over one that offers the same product or service but is closer to their home? Proving your expertise, especially if you are new to your field, will give ideal customers a solid impression of your brand and what your enterprise is about, and they will go the extra mile with you as a result. Blogs and videos are a great way to accomplish this, even if it’s just about something simple and educational like a product demonstration video clip or a buyer’s guide.
Also, when you visit any industry related blogs or news sites and come across a relevant article or useful content, share it with your page fans. They’ll consciously decide to follow your page, knowing they can trust your content to be helpful and informed.
Whilst your social media is there to represent your business, that doesn’t mean that these pages have to be all business all the time. It’s good to be personal, customers appreciate being able to relate to the faces and names behind a business, it makes the follower feel special and as if they know you. Posting about topics such as an employee’s birthday, a significant business anniversary, about your pets or a particular visitor to your premises are the kinds of subjects that your followers will love to see on your feed.
You’re probably not a Graphic Designer as well as a small business owner, so how do you make these posts look the part? I would suggest using a design platform like Canva, Snappa or Stencil. They’re easy to use and usually start with a free basic plan then offer reasonably priced options for their premium services, you’ll be provided with ready-made templates to get you started and then you can simply change the fonts, colours and images to match the branding for your business.
So, how will I know it’s working?
As you implement your new social strategy, it’s sensible to keep track of what works for you and what doesn’t. You’ll then be able to modify your plan to improve your results as you go. A good way to do this is by using analytic tools that will give you a picture of your social efforts and they’ll also help you track which metrics matter most to you. Each Social Media site or app tends to offer their own ‘Insights’ or ‘Analytics’ segments, but if you’re using a social media management tool like the ones I mentioned previously then they will usually have a section where all these performance statistics can be found in one place.
Unfortunately, with social media marketing, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all method, you just have to take one stage at a time and master it before you proceed with another. It takes a bit of time to see any consistent results, but you will see them as long as you are patient and persistent with your approach.
It doesn’t matter what size your business is, using social media will definitely help you reach your audience. You’ll also be able to connect with new potential customers or clients and increase recognition of your industry knowhow. If it’s all still too overwhelming, as I stated previously, you don’t have to do it all, you could always just start small by getting comfortable with one social media platform before you expand?
Written for our friends at ‘SME News’, click below to see more.