Social media management can be an overwhelming and tiresome task.
Especially if you’re a small business owner.
You have a business to run, right? So who has the time to run ALL of these social channels and keep them updated on a regular basis?
Well, the answer is, you don’t have to.
I’m going to tell you a little secret that will save you a GREAT deal of time, whilst improving results.
Are you ready?
… You need a social strategy.
OK, that wasn’t much of a secret.
However, having a solid strategy will keep you focused, and working on one or two social channels where your audience is engaged will improve results and save you a GREAT deal of time.
In this post, we’re going to walk you through each channel and give you the benefits of each, whilst allowing you to see what other companies are doing to utilise these channels.
So without further adieu, let’s dig in.
What can social media do for your business?
With such a huge level of personal use, it’s not always easy to see how social media can benefit your business.
There aren’t many networks out there that were originally developed for the purpose of consumerism.
But that doesn’t mean that they can’t add a tremendous amount of value to your operations.
The most prominent benefit is simply visibility.
We are spending up to 2 hours each day browsing online, 45 minutes more that we were back in 2012.
So increasing the presence of your business online, alongside your official website, is most definitely going to increase your chances of being noticed.
Whilst being seen is a relatively easy first step, interaction is a pretty vital progression.
Social networks, as the term suggests, are social tools. Communication is rarely just one-way and so for a brand or business, this can be an effective way to speak to customers.
By getting yourself in front of customers, and opening a line of communication with them, social media can naturally become a sales tool.
The trouble is, there is more than one network out there and more than one approach to managing each one.
So how do you know which social media channels are best to use for your SME?
First – discover what is each channel is intended for
The very first thing you need to do when carving out a social media strategy, is to understand what each channel is all about.
From micro-blogging to photo sharing, each will have a different purpose.
The more you know about what they do, the better equipped you are to decide whether it’s a route worth exploring.
Look at which channels other companies within your industry are using – and how they are using them.
It’s not enough to just create a page or profile because everyone else is.
You need to look at what they are doing on there, whether it is working, and whether it could have a similar effect for you.
When choosing which social media channels might work for your SME, it’s important to investigate:
- The main purpose of the channel for its users
- How relevant it is for your customer
- Whether you have the resources to manage it effectively
Don’t let a social media strategy de-rail your other thoughts, but certainly take the time to do the initial legwork.
There are plenty of small businesses getting it very right, and enjoying unprecedented success because they have fully understood those vital three points.
So how do you get started?
The best start you can make when looking to choose your channels, is to stop looking at them personally and start to see them from a business point of view.
Let’s take a whistle-stop tour of the 5 most popular channels right now:
Facebook still reigns as the most popular social media channel in the world.
Its overall mission today is “to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected.” With established and dedicated business page support, it is well-equipped (and very well-suited) to aid the marketing needs of a whole host of businesses.
Stuck for ideas on how to manage effectively? Here are some do’s and don’ts.
From sharing messages to targeted advertisements, Facebook is a platform that can put you in front of a huge number of people and even allowing you to seek out those who are specifically relevant to you.
Along with relatively simple and cost-effective management, it is a channel that any reputable SME can utilise effectively.
Youtube comes in as the second most popular channel – though its video-only focus drastically narrows its benefits for certain businesses. In 2015, half of all smartphone users in the UK used their devices to watch video content.
While this goes some way to informing you about how popular video content is becoming, it is often not the easiest content to produce when you are a small organisation.
If your product or service is best-demonstrated in moving form, then it’s worth exploring this opportunity. Look for trends within the channel that you are researching, and see where your purpose can fit in with this.
From much-loved tutorials to (the almost unexplainable) popularity of unboxing – there is an opportunity to enjoy viral coverage – but only when your offering is relevant and your resources can produce something special.
In at third most-used is micro-blogging site Twitter. With only 140 characters allowed for each post, it’s not the place to publish complex campaign messages. But it is one of the best ways to communicate more personally with your customers.
Big companies such as Sky and ASOS use the real-time nature of Twitter to offer premium customer service. This kind of public, concise and often problem-solving communication can be of great benefit to your business, but as an SME, are you able to keep up with such an active two-way stream of content?
PRO TIP: An excellent way to find and engage with more followers who may be interested in your brand is by using Followerwonk.
But what exactly is Followerwonk?
It’s an amazing (and free) tool that allows you to search for certain keywords in users bio and provides an easy way to connect and engage.
Let’s say for example I run a business selling yoga mats.
Using Followerwonk, I could search for the keyword “yoga” and “yogi”, this way I can find anyone showing a keen interest in these terms, and they are likely to be interested in my brand.
Then, using filters I can easily export my target market who have been active on Twitter over the last 3 months.
But that’s just one way I can leverage the power of Twitter for small business.
Here are 5 more creative ways to use Twitter.
The fourth most popular social network is LinkedIn. Defined as a ‘professional network’ it has fairly obvious links to personal career progression, but how does this benefit your SME?
With this one, it’s all about business development via B2B marketing.
When you look at who uses LinkedIn, you will see where the benefits lie for you.
When it comes to making your business attractive for sales leads and recruitment purposes, LinkedIn is the perfect tool.
As with any channel, there is a level of management required, but on an SME level it may well be something that you can scale accordingly.
One way to build a loyal fan-base on LinkedIn is by sharing your wealth of knowledge on LinkedIn groups, sharing articles and providing actionable advice to build brand authority and trust through thought-leadership.
As the fifth most popular social network as of 2016, Pinterest is a really interesting example of a social channel that requires a level of adaptation.
Described as a ‘visual bookmarking tool for discovering and saving creative ideas’, it is naturally best suited to creative industries.
This doesn’t mean to say that it is exclusive to those sectors, but it can easily prove a waste of your time if you are not easily communicated visually.
For example: a target audience of DIY enthusiasts may use it to search for inspiration – making it a great place for a paint brand to be. Whereas consumers looking for PPI advice won’t typically be seeking visual aids – so it’s not likely to work as well for a financial advice provider.
Despite these being the 5 most popular social media channels of the moment, they are not all guaranteed to work for your business – and are not the only ones you should be looking at.
Channels such as Instagram, Google Plus and Tumblr have also proven to be huge drivers of success, and have business-focused features to give a helping hand.
Ultimately, whether you enjoy that social media fueled success is down to the quality of your research and the adaptability of your content.
Though you can’t make your product or services fit where they don’t belong, you can take advantage of where your target audience is hanging out and capitalise on what you find they like to see.
The Last Word
Social media is a fast-moving, ever-changing world and so working out which channels work best for you is something that needs to be revisited as times goes on and as your business develops.
With each year, industry experts will offer a glimpse into the coming trends to watch out for.
And whilst your resources may not always allow for immediate adoption, being in the know will prepare you for choosing the best possible route to suit your plans.
Especially when new channels appear – which they most certainly will.
Whilst no guarantees can be made when it comes to social media success, a focus on research, observation and strategy will undoubtedly give your channel choices the best possible chance.
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