25 September 2013

7 steps to make the most of social media

As part of Social Media Week, here are some tips on how to make the most of social media to connect with customers and promote your business.

This week businesses all over the world are gathering to share ideas and tips as part of Social Media WeekThe event, which runs until Friday, aims to provide ideas, information and inspiration to entrepreneurs about how to use social media to connect with customers and promote their business.

In the past many bosses may have been furious at their staff using social media in work time, but with more and more entrepreneurs such as Richard Branson and Lord Sugar embracing the technology, it is increasingly becoming a major backbone to business marketing,

To mark Social Media Week we have put together some top tips to make the most of social media to promote your business.

1.     Think of social media accounts as your ‘shop front’

Put the same amount of thought into the appearance of social media accounts as you would your premises. Traditionally, businesses would meet most of their customers face-to-face in their own commercial premises, but nowadays many potential clients will first ‘meet’ you via your social media pages. Make sure you are making the right first impression. If you have a Facebook page, make sure it looks appealing and professional, featuring your logo and high-quality photographs. Always make sure any posts or tweets are spelled correctly and written well. The last thing you want is for someone to be discouraged from using your business because your social media accounts look amateurish.

2.      Come up with a plan

Don’t be fooled into thinking social media is something you can just do when you have a spare five minutes. You need to create a proper social media strategy and commit to it. Work out what your aims are so you can figure out how to achieve them. Do you just want to communicate more with your existing customers or are you looking to expand by raising the profile of your business and attracting new clients? Do you intend to use social media to answer questions or resolve problems your customers may have? Once you know what you want to do, it will be easier to achieve those goals. It is also a good idea to assign social media to a particular person or team within your company.  Perhaps look at sending staff on a social media training course to aid their skill development.

3.      Decide which sites you want to use

There are a lot of social media sites now and you probably won’t have the time and energy to use all of them effectively. So don’t try! Instead, choose the ones you feel will appeal to your target audience and help you achieve your aims. Facebook and Twitter are the most obvious sites to have a presence on but you may also want to look into other sites as well. Foursquare is a good option for mobile businesses while Instagram and Pinterest are good options for retailers selling eye-catching products. Eateries should try to spend time on online review sites like TripAdvisor, monitoring customer feedback and responding to criticism.

4.      Don’t be afraid to interact

You will have key messages you want to tell your customers on social media sites. But remember, it is also an ideal opportunity to have conversations with people and get them talking about your business. The more you interact with people, the more fans or followers, you will attract. 

5.      Don’t turn on the hard sell

Most people use social media to relax, have fun and be sociable. If people feel they are being sold to, they may stay away from your page, unfollow you or block your news feed. Of course you will want to share news about your business, but try and start conversations on other topics too. Sharing news stories related to your industry or asking for opinions are ways to interact without people feeling they are being pressured to buy.

6.      Do your homework

Look at your competitors and see how they use social media. You should be able to get a good idea of what kind of posts and topics have been the most successful and which have fallen flat.

7.      Keep track of who is talking about you

Try to track who is talking about your business and what they are saying. Use the search function on Twitter to search for mentions of your brand. Seeing what other people are saying can be valuable feedback which you can act on to improve your business.

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