Six Ways Your Small Business Can Step Up Its Social Media
Many small businesses derive a lot of value from communicating with existing and potential clients online -- it's a cheap and valuable way of making your offering known. But are you spending more time Instagramming photos of your new products, instead of making them? Or are you posting so little that you've left your followers in the lurch?
Whether you're struggling with it or think you're a pro, these six tips from experts will help you make a success of your social media.
1. Don't Chase Digital Trends
You shouldn't feel you have to try out every new social media platform. Find out where your audience is and concentrate on engaging with them regularly. If they are all on a specialist industry forum, then that's where you should be -- whether it's cool or not doesn't matter.
"You do not need to have an Instagram presence if it isn't right for your followers. The platform you choose should be the one that helps you communicate the right information, and solve problems for your customers," says Matt Owen, a consultant and speaker who has worked with some of the world's largest businesses in the technology, intelligence and energy sectors on their social media output. "Once you have this core presence established you can begin to think about being on more platforms, but avoid chasing the latest thing for the sake of it."
2. Recycle Your Posts on Different Platforms
Creating content can be time-consuming, so always try to get the most out of it. For example, you might create an infographic that you can then split up and turn into gifs and graphics that will work well on different platforms.
"You could republish articles on platforms like Medium, or link to them on forums like Quora if they answer a question," says Owen.
3. Communicate to Accumulate
"It does help if you can create a steady stream of regular content, but you don't have to behave like a publisher and post every day. Quality will always beat quantity, so look for ways to extend the reach of your best pieces of content," says Owen.
You should also encourage clients and customers to leave reviews. "Buyers are more influenced by positive reviews than they are by marketing message," says Jo Edwards, managing director of PR consultancy JE Consulting. Brace yourself for some bad reviews, but respond to them openly and fairly. Don't delete negative comments, or ignore questions or feedback. And be wary of relying on automation tools as you will lose the personal touch.
4. Be Consistent
Even if you're publishing content across a variety of platforms, it's important to keep your tone of voice and brand consistent. "Remember it's social, so keep your personality at the forefront of your content," suggests Edwards.
She also suggests keeping an eye on the timing of your posts -- some basic trial and error will reveal when people are most likely to see what you've posted. And you can use this data to create a publishing schedule so that you post at regular intervals and optimize audience engagement.
5. Consider Your Technique and Watch Out for Typos
You should steer clear of "spamming" followers by posting the same content time and time again, and posting excessively. Other social media mistakes include poor grammar and spelling errors -- customers expect a level of professionalism, even in 140-character tweets or Facebook updates. "Don't post anything without re-reading it to avoid poor grammar and spelling," Edwards advises.
6. Don't Be Needy
Lastly, Edwards says that you shouldn't get too hung up on the numbers of followers or subscribers you have, or don't, as the case may be. And she advises against publishing posts which come across as though you're begging people to share or like your updates. "It's much more about the quality of the relationships you have built up," she adds.
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