30 May 2013

Make the most of social media

Social media is now a vital tool for businesses to communicate with their customers and attract new clients.

It is now essential for the vast majority of businesses to be online. But just setting up a website isn’t enough any more to keep up with the competition. It is also a good idea to look into how you can get social media sites like Twitter and Facebook to work for your business.

A poll by Groupon showed 58% of small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) intend to increase their use of social media during 2013. The survey also found 28% of SMEs are planning to improve their e-commerce processes and 17% aim to better support social media channels.

The research found many businessw spending less on other forms of marketing to concentrate on social media.

Businesses spend less on traditional methods

More than 1/4 of the businesses who took part in the poll are planning to cut back on the amount they spent on being featured in local directories. And almost one in four plan to reduce their local advertising, including the use of billboards and posters.

One in five are planning to spend less on sponsorship so they can use the money they save on digital alternatives, like email marketing and m-commerce (selling via mobile devices).

Only 8% of SMEs say they actually intend to spend less on m-commerce and email marketing this year.

Adam Rock, Managing Director at social media marketing company TAN Media, says social media isn’t just about a new way of offering a service or produce, it’s about interacting with consumers, giving them instant access to your business and building up a relationship based on trust.

He says: “Treating the consumer as an individual and not as part of an audience is increasingly important to a good social media presence.”

Our top five social media tips

We’ve put together some top tips for businesses hoping to make the most of social media.

  1. Work out who you’re targeting
    Don’t just view social media sites as a race to get the most followers or fans. There’s no point having thousands of followers if none of them intend to actually use your business. Sitting down and working out who your target audience is and where you would find them will help make sure you’re getting your message out to the right people.
  2. Delegate social media to someone you trust
    If you’re going to make the most of social media, you will need to spend time on the site interacting with consumers and letting them know about your business. However, it can be difficult to find the time when you are busy running a business. Don’t be tempted to set up Facebook and Twitter accounts and then forget all about them as for social media to be effective, communication has to be consistent and regular. If finding the time is likely to be an issue, employ someone you trust who understands marketing and social media to manage your accounts on your behalf
  3. Be careful what you say
    Always remember your business’s vision and image when posting on social media sites. Use the sites to promote your business not to make controversial statements which could alienate customers and damage your reputation. While many people use their personal accounts to discuss hangovers, criticise celebrities or talk about politics, this is not a good idea when using your business accounts. Keep your private opinions separate from your business activities.
  4. Stay safe online
    Choose strong passwords using a combination of letters, symbols and numbers to protect your social media accounts from hackers and change them on a regular basis. Only give the passwords to those in your team who need to know them and don’t use the same password for more than one account. Make sure you are also using good anti-virus software to maintain your IT security. The last thing you want is for hackers to get into your accounts and undo all your good work.
  5. Don’t spam your followers
    It’s good to keep communication regular with frequent status updates, posts and tweets but don’t go over the top. Too many will overwhelm your followers and put them off your business. Put yourself in the shoes of your customers and think about the kind of things they would be interested in seeing.

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