Social media can be a powerful marketing tool when it is being used effectively. As a bonus for small businesses, it is cost-effective too! Although, while social media doesn’t require a huge investment, it still requires plenty of planning.
All businesses that are going to be using social media (if you’re not, then why not?), need a dedicated social media manager. It takes a dedicated team to create content and grow your platform – don’t expect to post status’ with little thought and sit back waiting for your target audience to find you and engage. To get the most out of social media, you need to plan, plan, plan!
To help run your business’ social media channels effectively, we will go through some tips on how to develop them. Additionally, we will discuss how to use Instagram and Twitter, individually.
ONE Don’t Hire Just Anyone – just because you are competent when it comes to running your personal social media accounts doesn’t mean that you are going to know how to run your business accounts. You will need someone who understands how to use data and insights to create effective campaigns.
TWO Be Active – it may be an obvious one, but social media isn’t somewhere to just post regularly and that’s it. As it says on the tin, to use social media you need to be, you got it… social. Your social media manager will be keeping up to date with the current trends and will ensure they allow time to engage with your audience.
It will also help to boost your page if you make sure to share some of your positive feedback from customers. If your lovely customers are tagging you in photographs or posts, then be sure to thank them by sharing it – your customers will feel valued that you took the time to read it and respond.
THREE Choose Your Top Channels – Naturally, you will want to be on as many social media channels as possible, but you will be exhausting yourself and taking on far too much at once. You want to be creating around two accounts that you will be able to keep updated regularly.
Why shouldn’t you sign your business up for several social media networks? Before you sign up for any, think about how much time you have available to dedicate to social media. If your customers look at social media accounts that aren’t as active as they need to be, they may assume that your business is dormant and won’t bother checking your other accounts.
Start with one of two accounts and focus on growing those – spend time developing them. Get comfortable with what content you want to share, your company voice, and what content your audience wants to see before attempting to take on another. Establish your audience through two networks and then grow from there.
FOUR Find your voice – while you are developing your social media presence, you should think carefully about which tone you would like for your business. Your company voice should be in line with how you are appearing online, as it will reflect how people see and interact with your business.
FIVE Post regularly – I have touched on this above, however, it is such an important point that I’m going to address it further. Whether you are scheduling your content or posting live, you need to be posting regularly.
I highly recommend looking into scheduling your social media posts as this will make all other tasks much easier to manage. You will be free to focus on other tasks at hand as well as ensuring that you have the time to engage with your audience.
You will not always be available to update your social media channels when appropriate, especially as you begin to add more channels to manage. Set some time aside to plan your content for the day and schedule to publish at regular intervals.
If you have signed up for a business account, you will be able to use your insights to effectively pin-point when is the best time to post, according to your audience’s engagement rates.
Although with scheduling you need to be sure that you are only posting when your audience is listening – there’s no point in posting at 11 pm if no-one is awake to interact (and you won’t be online to engage back). Similarly, you want to make sure that if you are planning content far in advance, then only schedule what is relevant – there’s no point publishing Valentine’s Day content in mid-September!
SIX Engage Locally – you may find that a big chunk of your audience is locally based, so why not connect with them? Search for other local businesses, influencers, bloggers, and journalists. But it is not enough to simply follow them – you need to be engaging!
It is great to support other businesses, so get sharing relevant content from other businesses and you will create yourself a little online community of people who support each other.
Twitter is particularly great for this with its list feature. You can create a list, so you can keep an eye on the local trends, see what they are tweeting, and engage with them easier.
Now, let’s take a look at both Instagram and Twitter, and how to use them effectively in your marketing strategies. First up, Instagram.
How to Use Instagram for Marketing
Setting Up Your Profile
The first thing people will see is your profile, so you need to be using that space as best as you can. Utilize your bio to sell yourself/your brand, do not waste it! Make sure that you include your email address so that people know how to reach you. It is much easier for people to copy your email from your profile than messaging you for it!
You should also include your website address or any relevant links. If you have under 10k followers, this is the only place you can put a clickable link – so use it.
Your Brand and Image
How do you want your business to look online? Think about how you want your grid to look. To stay consistent, plan all your content ahead of time. The further ahead you can plan, the better and put your images into ‘Preview’. Preview is an app that allows you to see how your grid will look. I highly recommend it; it is free and I use it all the time!
Your images should have a theme and be consistent. For instance, your theme could be the colours in the images or something that brings all your content together. For example, you could identify a few things that you will use on all your posts:
- Colour theme
- Photography style
- Use the same presets
- Ask questions
- Tell a story
Use Seasonal Content
Throughout the year, there are so many ‘special days’ to use to boost content.
- International Days – World Wildlife Day, Autism Awareness Day, World Book Day, etc
- Valentine’s Day
- Bonfire Night
I personally use Days of the Year to keep track of any special days coming up.
Create content to fit in with whatever may be happening that day or season. Make sure to update your hashtags to be relevant during each season too!
Engagement is King! But you need to be engaging with relevant people to see any traction. Types of people you should be engaging with and how:
- Your followers
- People you follow
- Local residents
- Local businesses
- People who use the same hashtags as you
- Watch stories and respond
- Share small business’ posts
- Share anything relevant to your company values
- Respond to ALL (or as many as possible) comments – positive or negative
While engagement is key, you should not like or comment too much at once. Instagram will block you for a while. Spread out your engagement during the day.
Instagram allows every post to include 30 hashtags. While some people do not like to use this many, I personally think of it as free advertisement. Why would you not use all 30 hashtags? It allows your posts to get seen by more people.
But where should you put them? Some people put them at the end of their caption, but I personally think this looks a bit messy. I prefer my captions to be content-focused. I like to include hashtags in the first comment under my post, as it keeps them slightly hidden which looks much neater.
Now you know how to use hashtags, how do you know which ones to use? Do some research, look at your competitors and similar businesses to you. Look at what hashtags they are using and compile a list of your own. The key here though is to use hashtags that have not been saturated – try to use ones with under 10,000 posts. This means that your post will be much easier to find and will not disappear in seconds.
Before Posting Your Image
Before you hit publish on your image, make sure that you have tagged the location. This makes your image searchable and people in the area can see it. You should also tag in any relevant brands or accounts into the image. For example, if someone in the picture is wearing a particular brand of clothing. This is important as it means that their followers can see it too.
- Run competitions to boost engagement and following
- Get a business account to keep an eye on what time of the day your audience is interacting the most. Post around these times!
- Post consistently
- Be active on stories
- Follow other people in your niche, local residents/businesses, competitors, etc
- Consider having someone be the ‘face’ of your business online. To give a personal touch
- Do not be afraid to inject some personality and have fun with it
- Use stories for tutorials, events, etc
How to Use Twitter for Marketing
Personally, I think Twitter is one of the ‘places to be’ online. Especially for businesses. If you are thinking about setting up a business Twitter account, here are some tips to get the most out of it:
- Be active – post throughout the day to keep a consistent online presence
- Chat with people – engage with people using the same hashtags as you do, search relevant keywords, and comment on some posts, and have fun! Just get out there and talk/network
- Engage with your niche, local residents, local businesses, etc
- ALWAYS comment back!
- Host competitions
- Post seasonal content
- Use hashtags, but not too many! On Twitter, hashtags can look very untidy so I would suggest using around 2 or 3 at most
- Use keywords in your content, as posts are keyword searchable on Twitter. For example, if I searched “Suffolk soft play” it would show me everyone who posted with that phrase
- Share reminders – “Did you know we offer swimming lessons for children aged two-five? Click here to find out more.”
- Share any local news or events – create a sense of community and support others
- Post reminders that you have other social media channels. For example, “Did you know we have a Facebook page? Come and say hello!”
- If you are comfortable with it, share pictures of the staff. For example, if it is someone’s birthday, share a funny picture celebrating them. Share with your audience that your office has a great atmosphere!
- Update your pinned tweet regularly – it will be the first tweet that people will see, so keep it relevant
- Do not share things directly from other social media. Cross-post manually, otherwise, half of your post will be cut off and it looks messy