Social Media for Business: How to Use it
Does your business use social media to promote its products and services? With 3.5 billion social media users across the globe - 45 million of those in the UK - if you’re not already using social media as a marketing tool, it’s time to start. We’ve seen considerable growth in digital and social media marketing over the last decade, and that's because it provides results.
Whether you’re a social media novice, or you already use it as a successful marketing tool, there’s always something new to learn. Featuring tips on how to use each platform, how to improve your social media appearance, and how to create a social media strategy, this article will help you get the best return on your social media efforts.
Benefits of Social Media for Business
Regardless of the size of your business, there are many advantages to using social media. From increasing website conversions to gaining a loyal following, the more committed you are to your social media strategy, the more benefits your business will receive.
Each social media platform is free to join, which offers a cost-free way to advertise and promote your products. While there are costs involved in ‘promoted posts’, the initial set-up and day to day running is free.
Consumers love getting to know brands and what they stand for, and social media is a brilliant way to showcase this. The more interesting and strategic content you post, the more of a following you will gain. Adding some personality into your posts will help, too. With the barrier the internet creates, customers like to shop from brands they feel they can trust. So, building a relationship with existing and potential customers on social media is extremely important.
Increased Website Traffic
Think of each social media platform as a branch leading away from your main website. The aim is to get consumers to click through to your website, and the more quality content you create, the more clicks you will receive. On your social media pages, you can share links to new products, blog posts and case studies, all of which will drive website traffic.
Simple Customer Communication
We live in a very instant world today, with the average social media user expecting to get a response from brands in less than four hours. Customer service has and always will be very important, but the way we communicate is changing. Many customers now prefer to connect to brands via Facebook Messenger or Twitter, so having a dedicated social media manager on-hand to respond to customer queries will benefit your business.
Different Social Media Platforms
While there are many different social media platforms, they’re not all a good match for every business. Before diving into each platform, do your research and ask yourself some important questions. Which platform does your target audience mostly use? Which platforms will allow you to best show off your services? Which platforms best align with the tone of your company?
The number one social media platform, Facebook for business is not as personal as you may think. To promote your business on Facebook, you’ll first need to create a business page. This will allow you to include details about your business like opening hours, location and even customer reviews. With a Facebook business page, you’ll be able to create targeted ads and gain deeper insights into each post's performance. Consider posting content that includes current promotions, product/service highlights and industry insights. If your business has a blog, consider sharing recent articles on your Facebook page to increase website traffic.
Instagram is a highly visual platform, so you’ll need to ensure your images are up to scratch. The mobile app allows businesses to speak to customers on a personal level, with features like image posting, Instagram Stories, Instagram Live and Instagram TV. Creating a business account (in settings, select ‘switch to business profile’) will provide you with in-depth post analytics, the option to create paid promotions, add a CTA to your page and lots more. In terms of content, consider creating a selection of ‘behind the scenes’ videos, product/service highlights and informational posts. You could also dip your toes into the world of influencer marketing. These are all great ways to successfully drive sales, raise your profile and create brand awareness. Be sure to use hashtags to expand each post’s reach, too.
Twitter is the most conversational of social media sites, only allowing you to post short updates (tweets), 240 characters long. With Twitter, it’s important to get your brand’s tone of voice right and share short, snappy updates. Make use of hashtags and share your own content and business updates, but also re-tweet other users’ posts. Mentioning others in your tweets and re-tweeting posts will aid brand awareness. Consider also posting videos, images and links to articles - with Twitter analytics, you can see how well each tweet performs.
The most professional of social media platforms, LinkedIn is great for networking and showcasing your services. Think of LinkedIn as a CV for your business. Your company page should highlight your services, mission statement and offer information about company culture. A lot of recruitment is carried out through LinkedIn, and it’s a great place for potential employees to get an idea of how your company operates. Consider positioning yourself as an industry expert by engaging in conversations within your niche and offering advice through LinkedIn Groups. All of the above will show off your business in a professional light, promote your business in a ‘non-salesy’ way and lend a hand in customer and client acquisition.
Improve Your Social Media Appearance
How your business appears on social media is very important. Your public image can make or break sales, so it’s vital to get it right. Here are a few things to bear in mind when setting up social media for your business.
Ensure All Profiles Are Consistent
Making sure all your business’ social media accounts are consistent will boost brand awareness and ensure your business appears professional.
Most profile images sit to the top left of a social media page, where the reader's eye is first drawn. Using your company logo as your profile image across all social media platforms will help to keep them uniform and raise brand awareness.
Not every social media platform has a cover image option, but for those that do, it’s good practice to keep this image the same across all accounts. Many brands change their cover image regularly to reflect current campaigns or a new season.
Your company bio should include a short snippet of information about your business. It should be maintained across all accounts but can be adapted slightly depending on the platform. For example, your Twitter and Instagram bio will likely be more casual than your LinkedIn bio, which should be more formal and informational.
Optimise Image Sizes Correctly
Each social media platform provides recommended sizes for both cover and profile images. This means that each image needs to be optimised correctly and appropriately for each platform. Low definition images or those that don’t fit within their box can make your business appear unprofessional. Your image is everything online, so it's important to get it right!
Ensure All Content Portrays the Image of The Business
The content you post and interact with on social media portrays an image of your brand to the world. It’s vital that this image accurately represents your business and its professional core values. Anything from text and images you post to accounts you follow and posts you interact with can affect this image.
Explore the Idea of a Content Theme
A great way to keep social media accounts consistent is to introduce a content theme. On platforms like Instagram, this could mean ensuring all images are the same colour scheme or use the same image filter. There are also lots of Instagram theme variations available online. On other social media platforms, a content theme could mean focusing all content (blog posts, social media images, video content etc.) on a specific topic each month. This is a great way to come up with consistent content ideas.
Create a Social Media Strategy
Perhaps you understand how each social media platform works, and you post regularly. But is there a method to your posting and do you analyse or compare your results? To achieve the best social media results for your business, you need to be strategic. This means planning. Planning each post, planning time to engage with followers and planning campaigns.
If you haven’t already signed up for a business account on the platforms that provide this service, this is the first thing you should do. Business profiles allow you to see more detailed post analytics, carry out paid campaigns and more.
Post regularly, but not too often. Post too much and users will likely get tired of seeing your content, but too little and they may forget they followed you in the first place. It’s about hitting that sweet spot and planning regular content you know your audience will engage with. The amount of content you should post depends on the platform, so it’s important to research how each one can aid your business.
Social media is all about being part of a (or creating your own) community. Follow other similar accounts, take part in discussions within your sector and start conversations. Doing so will help to raise your business' profile and position you as an expert within your niche.
Engage With and Respond to Your Followers
Engaging with your followers is extremely important because they are often your best advertisers. Encourage user-generated content by creating a unique hashtag that can be followed, re-post brand mentions and reply to posts or comments that users wouldn’t necessarily expect you to. Engaging on social media is a great way to humanise your brand, and doing so will show that you care about customers. In turn, this will create unique content for your page, raise brand awareness and drive sales.
Host Giveaways or Competitions
Hosting giveaways or competitions on social media is a great way to gain more followers, give back to your existing ones and get your brand name out there. Consumers love winning; it makes them feel both lucky and special, and if they win something from your brand, they’ll remember you for sure.
Consider Using a Scheduling App
If you require help juggling all your social media accounts, there are plenty of apps and websites dedicated to scheduling your content across several platforms. With a selection of both paid and free schedulers, it's a good idea to carry out some research to decide which one best suits your business needs.
Utilise Paid Advertising
While social media is free, there is a paid aspect to it, and this is where you can really increase your engagement and following. With paid social media advertising, you can choose to promote posts to a targeted audience for as much money as your budget allows and for as long as you like. This is a brilliant way to advertise your business to a new audience, gain more of a following and increase sales.
Track and Analyse Your Results
All of the above would be to no avail if you did not track and analyse your content. Keep note of how your posts perform, make comparisons and set goals. Measuring your results can give you a great deal of information and offer insights into audience demographics, the best time to post and which content achieves the most engagement.
When used in the correct way, social media can be a valuable asset for any business. Now that you’ve learnt about the benefits of social media and how to create a successful strategy, it’s time to set up your accounts and start posting.