Social media can be an excellent resource for chatting with friends, catching up on news and even finding long-lost relatives. However, it has become increasingly obvious that these online hangouts are being monetized by larger corporations who track and engage with the public at large.
Small business owners can feel overwhelmed by the choices between the different social networks and the varying degrees of advice available. The good news is that you don’t have to be the next big hit on Instagram in order to attract the right clientele. Follow this practical advice and you’ll be on your way to building a loyal following on social media
Decide Which Social Network Fits Best
Figuring out which social network fits your business best is the most important thing you can do at the start.
Think about your business, the product or service you are offering and who your customer is. If you are a youth apparel fashion designer then perhaps the best choices for you are Instagram and SnapChat. These apps have a young audience and are image-based, so you can show off your latest designs to their full potential.
Perhaps your business is one where your customers need to come to you; it could be a beauty salon or a car repairs business. If so, Facebook could be the best choice, as it will make it easy for local people to find and call you. This site will also allow you to post videos to your feed, which might be perfect if you are a landscaper who wants to showcase their beautiful garden. Facebook has evolved as and is now known for its attentive, more mature audience - something to keep in mind if you sell discretionary goods/luxury products.
Don’t Limit Yourself
If you are having trouble in deciding which is the best social media site to go for – try a few. Once you get into the swing of it, you will find it much easier to manage and invariably you will end up using one over another based on level of activity, interaction and engagement
Some small business owners have great success with using two or more networking sites on an on-going basis to attract more customers. A baker might use Pinterest to post lots of pictures of the different pastries and cakes she has on offer during the week, then at the weekend take to Twitter to ‘LiveTweet’ her shopping trip to an organic fruit market- so that her customers can see all of the fantastic ingredients she is using for her cakes.
Maintain Good Reviews
Customer reviews are an integral part of any business operating online, and maintaining good ones are essential to keeping customers coming your way.
Among Ireland’s SMEs there is stiff competition, so you have to offer a quality product or service in order to be a high scorer. There are however a few extra things which you can do in order to take you all the way to 5 stars on your social media accounts.
Many small companies choose to run competitions on their social sites which encourage you to enter to win the prize by giving an honest review.
If your business is customer-facing, asking customers to complete a review is a simple yet effective way of achieving the same result.
Not everyone can get it right all of the time – even if you get a review that may not be the best ever, don’t be afraid to respond to the review and bear in mind the famous quote from Bill Gates “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning”.
Many business owners forget that the most important thing about social media is to engage with and talk to other people. Even the most well-composed post can fall flat if it doesn’t entreat some form of reaction from its reader.
Sites and apps like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn are set up in such a way that means the amount of times your post is seen is completely dependent on whether people react to it. This hopefully means that potential customers may like, share, double-tap, comment, or indeed give any number of other reactions!
Unless you have thousands of followers (which would be a great achievement for any small business), you need your post to be an instant hit in order to be seen by the masses. So, get them laughing, get them crying, get them shaking their fists – just get them clicking!
Scheduling Your Posts
It’s surprising how many business-owners still aren’t using this great trick to save time and effort slaving over the keyboard. Some social media sites will actually give you the option to schedule your posts up to a year in advance. This means you can have naturally-timed, beautiful photos of your products appearing as if you had taken them in your shop – all while you’re doing far less glamorous jobs like calculating your monthly outgoings or submitting your VAT returns.
There are all manner of other online tools and apps which you can use (link to our other blog on apps) which will allow you to schedule multiple posts across all of your social media accounts. You can also be clever with it and schedule the same post across different accounts to save you valuable time.
Even if you don’t want to go far into the deep trenches of scheduling, it is useful to have even a high-level social media plan in your diary to help you remember to check in. Or, maybe just to give you some inspiration after a long day running your empire.
Have you got some social media tips and tricks you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments.