10 social media tips for your small business
Like it or not, social media plays a very important role in promoting your business and connecting with your customers.
Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest, LinkedIn and Google+ are among the platforms being used to increase brand presences online.
Emma Parsons, the senior social director at advertising agency Leo Burnett, says any business, no matter how small, must be where their audience is and that, more and more, is online.
"Having an online presence drives discoverability which, especially when starting out, is crucial to growth."
Parsons shares her 10 top tips on how a small business can go social:
1. Invest, invest, invest
Be prepared to invest time, energy and money - as much as you do in any other form of communications - for social media to truly deliver against your business objectives.
2. Social media platforms are just one component of being social
Your ideas, content and behaviour must be inherently social too; social media is just the vehicle through which your social content comes to life and influences behaviour.
3. Know your audience
Be really clear about who you're talking to (not just business-to-consumer but also other business stakeholders and the like). Understand their online behaviour and target accordingly.
4. Work within a strategic framework based on your business goals
Consider how social can help you hit your business objectives. Define the type of content you want to publish and then choose the most suitable platforms.
5. Choose your platforms, based on your audience and your business
There is no one size fits all. LinkedIn is great for positioning you as a thought leader; Pinterest and Instagram are visual; Facebook is great for storytelling; and Twitter is ideal for real-time communication.
6. Strive to be relevant - there's no need to constantly post
Thanks to the countless Facebook algorithm changes, coupled with the monetisation of the platform, taking an "always-on" approach no longer has the impact on saliency and engagement it once had. To be more effective, always strive to be relevant - either on a cultural or personal level.
7. Social media is agile and you should be too
Listening for cultural shifts and happenings helps identify relevance. Streamlined approval processes equals quick reactivity.
8. Be a thought leader
Become actively involved in a community around your industry. Positioning yourself as a key person of influence drives saliency for your business.
9. Get creative
Regardless of what your business does, your online presence doesn't have to be boring. Take the time to develop your brand personality and to discover what motivates your audience to interact with your content through a test-and-learn approach.
10. Ensure you measure and optimise against the results
Set your key performance indicators upfront and choose the right metrics to determine if you hit them, then track your progress, either manually or via a social reporting tool (free and paid options are available). Optimise based on what does deliver against your KPIs.
"Everyone makes mistakes", says Leo Burnett's Emma Parsons. "It's how you handle the fallout that determines public perceptions."
Of course, situations differ but the rule of thumb is that once you realise your mistake or poor judgment do the following:
- Put it in context. Is it a storm in a teacup or can it damage your brand?
- Publish an honest, straightforward apology. Take responsibility and make a promise to rectify the situation.
- Put a plan in place to deliver on your promise and then deliver.
- Be sensitive to your audience. Don't move on to the next campaign until you're confident you've regained trust. There's no need to respond to every comment, delete your presence or argue back. Deal with it swiftly, with dignity.