Why is social media so important for small businesses? It’s where your customers are. With nearly 2.5 billion social media users around the world, it is a great way to cut marketing spend, build your brand and get to know your customers better.

If you haven’t already it’s time to give your business a platform to drive awareness, attract new customers and boost sales. Here is a selection of tips that can help you manage, and make the most out of your social media.

Decide which platforms are right for you

Every social platform has a different function and not all social media platforms are suitable for every business, it’s about knowing your goals and having a bespoke plan for each one.

  • Facebook: The world’s most popular social media network, with more than 2 billion users as of June 2018, is home to the largest number of regular users. Facebook is good for lead generation and is appropriate for many different types of content, it is also good for building relationships and showing a human side to your business.
  • Instagram: The visual-centric platform that has taken the world by storm. Creative photo and video content is the key here. Instagram boasts the best engagement levels among all social networks, making it a powerful platform for businesses to reach consumers. With the recent introduction of the ‘Instagram stories’ feature it has become a hub for live and interactive content.
  • Twitter: The conversation platform, Twitter provides a steady stream of information and new content from all over the internet that is generally in real time. It is a fast-paced platform perfect for news updates, announcements and other important information.
  • LinkedIn: LinkedIn is an ideal platform for editorial content and can help your company become an established and influential leader in your field. It is typically the choice platform for B2B businesses.
  • Once you are all set up it’s time to create and manage meaningful content for distribution on each channel. Keeping on top of your activity can be hard, but there are a few key principles that will help you manage it.

    Define your goals

    The world of social can be daunting at first so it is wise to think about what you want to achieve and it is important to make specific goals. This will help you to determine the type of content you create, where you put it and the audience you target. Make goals that are measurable, realistic and relevant.

    Timing and scheduling

    Being an active member on social doesn’t just mean posting great content, it also requires you to engage with your audience regularly and to add value to their newsfeeds. It’s in your best interest to pay attention to when your followers and fans are online, so creating a content calendar including times to post, is an essential part of any social plan. There are a number of ways to streamline your posts, free tools such as Hootsuite provide a schedule and publishing service, making it a lot easier to manage your conversations online.

    Community Management

    Social media is where a lot of people go to voice their opinions, whilst it’s great to have good conversation around your brand unfortunately there can be some people who will leave negative comments. Responding quickly and appropriately to negative social comments can help you increase customer loyalty and retention.

  • Respond quickly. Stay active and make sure you are on top of all conversations around your brand – the good, the bad and the ugly – this way you’ll be in a strong position to do something about it.
  • Acknowledge your mistakes. There is no such thing as perfection and customers know this! It’s best to own up to mistakes and when you apologise to fans on social make sure the apology is genuine and is focussing on finding a solution to the issue.
  • Be human. There is nothing worse than feeling like you are talking to an automated robot. When customers reach out personalise your reply using a conversational tone and let them know they are talking to a real human. Be professional, friendly and understanding, and remember your behaviour is a reflection of your brand.
  • Quality over Quantity

    It’s important to know your brand and have a clear message. As the popularity of social media increases so does the amount of content, to put it into perspective, on average there are 95 million posts going out to Instagram only per day! With each digital channel becoming more saturated than ever, it’s all about quality over quantity. Focus on the platforms your audience use and bring them value. Do your research to know this, and work on solving their problems, what entertains them and what they want to engage with.