As a small business, it’s likely that your marketing department is relatively small to non-existent, so the world of marketing and social media, in particular, can be extremely overwhelming. Not only that, time, staff and funding usually come in short supply making it difficult for companies to establish an online presence.
Nevertheless, to stay relevant in today’s digital world, you must enter your business into the social space. A report by We Are Social and Hootsuite suggests that there are now 2.8 billion active users on social media across the globe – so it’s never been more important to tap into its benefits.
As consumption trends shift away from traditional media and towards digital and mobile, social is progressively regarded as the ultimate tool for promoting your brand, increasing public awareness and nurturing a connection with your target market – but how do you achieve quick success? Follow these social media tips to get your business started on social.
Be picky with platforms
Consistency is vital to make social work for you, so don’t assume you have to create a profile across all platforms. Adding more than necessary will result in sporadic, inconsistent activity, so focus on the one or two most relevant platforms for your audience.
So, which site will get the best results for your business? Here’s a quick guide on the main sites:
Facebook: Facebook has historically been the most popular social media channel with the largest user base. This has declined over time with more of the user base being older. It lets people connect with friends, share links, photos, videos and events, join groups and more. There are options for promoting content organically and through paid promotions.
TikTok: The most recent addition in this list, TikTok exploded over the pandemic. The platform had 3.7m active users in the UK during 2021 who spent an average 41 minutes a day consuming its content, according to Social Films. At the time, the app was downloaded over 1m times a month in the UK. Over a quarter (26 per cent) of users were 18-24 years old.
Twitter: Widely regarded as the best platform for engagement and growing more popular as a tool for social customer service, Twitter is fast-paced and allows reactivity. Users can post messages of up to 280 characters, share photos and videos, create custom lists, send direct messages and more. Content can be promoted organically, with Twitter cards or paid promotions.
Instagram: Instagram is a visual social media platform based on photos, Stories and Reels. Statista figures from 2022 show that around 30 per cent of users are 25-34, the greatest share of the users. Now Instagram can be used on desktop as well, which is more convenient than the mobile-only functionality it used to have.
LinkedIn: The largest social media network for professionals. LinkedIn is a business-focused network where users add connections, share links, join groups, write recommendations, and search for connections by company, location, industry and skills. Paid-for advertising is also available.
YouTube: A video-sharing platform with over a billion users, where people can view, upload, rate, share, subscribe to and comment on content. There are 36.5m users in the UK, with almost half (44 per cent) are aged 25-44. The male to female user split is about even, with 54 per cent males and 46 per cent females use of the platform.
Follow a plan
Social media should be treated in the same way as any business function. There needs to be a purpose and you need to establish what your objectives are, plus what you want it to achieve for your brand. Do you need to boost sales, enhance brand awareness or increase engagement with your customers? Once you’ve set your goal, keep it in mind when planning your strategy.
>See also: A guide to social media strategy for small business owners
Take time to review competitor profiles, research relevant content and create a schedule of posts for each platform you are using. Think about broad campaigns that can be run via multiple platforms, like launching a promotion or competition, for example, rather than posting unsystematically. Brands can also take advantage of seasonality with content, so consider what’s coming up on the calendar and plan your posts to be relevant.
There is an abundance of tools that can help formulate your content and make regular posting much easier. If you create a business profile on Facebook, you have access to free publishing tools and post insights, and for other platforms, SproutSocial, HootSuite and Buffer are examples of free-to-use tools that will help you to schedule content.
Building a following requires interaction, so while content planners and strategies are important, reacting to conversation and engaging with influencers is essential if you are to make your mark. Share, retweet and comment on posts that are relevant to your brand, join groups and follow the key players in your industry. It’s helpful to monitor what they are talking about on social media and think about how you can get involved in the chat – whether it’s offering an opinion or striking up a new conversation, building relationships with influencers can open doors to potential new customers.
Become a valuable contributor
One of the keys to success on social is commitment. Once you’ve identified who you are trying to reach and relevant platforms, you need to provide valuable content that resonates with your audience. Sharing your expertise or knowledge, giving solutions and providing valuable market insight will motivate your customers or potential clients and keep them engaged.
However you choose to boost your social presence, preparation is the key – once the foundations are in place, you can then begin to have fun and build your following.
Review your strategy regularly
It’s wise to have a look over your social media plan frequently, for a number of reasons. Firstly, the social media landscape is constantly changing.
Platforms change their offerings or their algorithms fairly frequently. The most recent example is Instagram placing posts from popular users in their feed rather than the user’s favourite accounts, in the style of TikTok. This has since been changed back to reflect the old feed model. Keeping up with social media news to keep on top of these tweaks and trends is essential.
Not only that, your audience is likely to change too. New platforms come along (which younger users may flock to), your audience’s preferences and values will change or a scandal can turn audiences off of a particular network.
It’s also worth reviewing how the social media posts on all of your websites reflect one another. Is the branding consistent? Is the tone of voice consistent? Make sure they characterise who you are as a brand.
You might want to add features to your offering like Instagram Shopping if you feel your user base would benefit from having the option to purchase from there. You may also partner with another business and be able to create content geared towards their target users.
It’s useful to see what’s going well by using your analytics tools. If there’s a product or a type of social media post that’s doing well, do more of that! Meanwhile, reconsider the ones that aren’t working out so well. Perhaps there’s a way you can alter them to emulate the success of your other posts.
While you’re there, look at purging fake accounts and followers – it doesn’t necessarily have to be all about changing the strategy.
Six months is a good benchmark figure for reviewing your plan of action so try and aim for that.