Being smart with social media
In a field of millions, simply pitching up on social media and expecting the world to come to you is an impossible dream. But pick your platforms wisely and tailor your output to your business and the rewards can be massive.
The marketing team at Work.Life share their top tips for achieving social media success within a start-up or small business.
Why social is good
Platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram give your business a voice and an identity for free. You can talk – and listen – to existing and future customers without a middleman.
And why it can turn sour
That unfiltered access to your customer base is a two-way street, so think before sounding off and remember that negative feedback can snowball online.
Consider what you need from it
This is crucial before rushing to set up social accounts. Is your business suited to using social media?
If you’re selling something visible and photogenic, like a beauty product or an impressive piece of design in any field, then regular photo or video updates can build and retain an audience.
Users can appreciate the product or service, even if they’re not constantly looking to buy from you.
If you’re, say, a recruitment agent, then social media can be a trickier place. Those looking to use your services typically only need you for a very specific moment and purpose – they’re unlikely to keep you in their timelines permanently, and your visual offering (crucial on Instagram and increasingly so on Facebook) may be limited.
You also need to ask what you’ll use social media for. Is it a selling tool or an interactive portal for dealing with queries and complaints? If it’s just a holding page to help with your Google ranking don’t be afraid to admit it – your Twitter bio could read ‘This is our Twitter page but we’re much more active over on Instagram/Facebook’, for example.
More broadly, social media gives you the chance to show personality no matter what industry you operate in. Florists Arena Flowers is a prime example. Its Twitter account is full of jokes and observations with barely a mention of flowers. It has earned the company a huge following and is clearly a successful indirect marketing tool.
Think of the time
Many large companies employ full-time social-media managers, or even teams of them. Updating Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn takes time and effort so it’s best to concentrate on one platform and do it excellently than spread yourself too thinly across many.
To continue the earlier example, those marketing a beauty or fashion product are likely to be best suited to Instagram with its younger demographic and reliance on imagery. A recruitment agency is likely to have more success with the professional environment of LinkedIn.
Facebook, the largest platform, is more nuanced and constantly evolving. Right now, it is heavily promoting its Groups feature, which can be great for niche businesses.
Facebook business pages can now interact in groups like an individual user can, so a business can dive into a readymade community and develop a relationship in a relevant field. If you offer a product for a particular brand of cars, for instance, then joining groups of enthusiasts on Facebook can be a much better way to get your name out there than simply setting up a page. Group posts are also seen much more readily on users’ timelines right now.
When it comes to creating posts, you can save a lot of time by using a scheduling service. Take an hour out of your day at a set time each week and you can create content for the next seven days. Facebook has a built-in scheduler, and there’s Twitter’s free Tweetdeck service and apps like ContentCal for managing multiple accounts.
Strike the right tone
Social media isn’t like traditional advertising. Shouting the loudest that you’ve got the best product is probably going to turn off internet-savvy consumers.
An authentic, human voice tends to connect much better on these platforms. This is particularly true on Twitter, which is built around conversations. In fact, the best way to gain a following from scratch on Twitter is to strike up conversations and interact with larger accounts – like the Work.Life one!
Pay for it
All these platforms are ostensibly free, but they intentionally throttle your reach in the hope you will pay for advertising. Don’t be afraid to embrace this. On Facebook in particular, which knows so much about its users, you can really target a certain group of people based on parameters like location, hobbies and age. It can be relatively cheap and Facebook will even help you create the most engaging type of post.
So as you can see, there are a host of choices out there. Spend a little time researching what is best for you to suit your specific business, audience and ambitions, and then have fun creating a sustainable, successful and fun social media campaign.
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