But with social media jargon such as likes, reposts and hashtags – it can all get a little confusing, not to mention time-consuming if you’re the owner of a small business.
Social media doesn’t need to be confusing, though. Asking a few basic questions can make a world of difference.
The biggest question you need to answer before even investing time and resources into using social media is why you should use it at all.
Most of the people you’re trying to reach are on social media in some form. According to a survey carried out by We Are Social, 59% of the UK population have active social media accounts in some form. That means potentially six out of every ten of your customers are on Facebook, X (Twitter), Instagram or all three at once!
Of course, different demographics will give you different results - for a company selling mobility scooters and thus catering to an older audience, you may find a lower rate of engagement so that’s good to keep in mind when you’re thinking through how to use social media for your small business.
For more information on managing your online reputation as a business, check out our animated infographic.
Responding to the needs of your customers is critical for your business and social media is one of the best ways to find out what matters to them. Making better use of social media puts you right where the conversation is.
That’s not to say that the experience of hearing what your customers may always be a happy one. Part of listening into the conversation that is social media will involve hearing some harsh things at times but it’s a prime opportunity for you to find where the potential problems are and help solve them!
Once you’ve figured out why you should use social media for your new business, you need to think through how you’ll use it.
Beyond the general answers of being where your customers are and hearing what matters to them, you need to have a clear idea of what you’re looking to do with social media:
Are you promoting a product or service?
This can be done through targeting advertising such as Facebook ads or promoted tweets, posting product information and showing case studies which show why customers should choose or remain with you.
Are you building community around a particular shared interest?
If you are catering to shared interests, social media can be a great way to build relationships. For instance, through X (Twitter) lists, a jazz music enthusiast can develop a community for fellow fans, venues, magazines, etc. There are also plenty of profiles that are dedicated to specific topics and it is easy to search through these profiles' follower lists to see who else is interested in that topic.
Another way to foster community around a particular interest is through curating and sharing content relating to your product or service – for instance, a music magazine may want to share content relating to new releases, concert footages, etc.
You can also drive users towards your page by running promotions such as giveaways or competitions - make sure you check the T&Cs of each website before hosting a giveaway. These can be great ways of expanding your profile online, especially if you use featured hashtags such as #giveaway or #competition. Start small with prizes that won't break the bank - if you use your own product as a prize, this can also serve as advertising for your own product!
Are you reaching out to others within your field?
One of the great things about social media is that it allows you to develop relationships with other offering a similar service or even in unrelated fields. Even a one sided-interaction (such as your brand replying to another) can be beneficial to your brand's reach. An example of this happened in early 2019 when bakery chain Greggs launched the vegan sausage roll to the ire of journalist Piers Morgan, who took to Twitter to complain about the new option - Greggs' humorous reply caused the exchange to go viral. Brands such as McDonald's and Pizza Hut jumped into the fray with tweets advertising their own vegetarian and vegan products and linking back to or referring to the earlier Greggs interaction. Outreach generates conversation and conversation can drive people to your product/service.
There are a glut of social networks and for the sake of your business, picking the right one is crucial for getting the best results.
Your small business may find that different social media will be suited to the aims and objectives of your business.
|Communicating with customers in a non-obtrusive way|
|X (Twitter)||Hearing the voice of customers in real-time|
|Visually showcasing products and services|
|Making connections with other professionals|
|Helping customers discover new products/services|
A fast food restaurant, for instance, may find that offering vouchers via Facebook and sharing pictures of their menu is an effective use of social media while a company offering financial services may find having a X (Twitter) account for customers and a LinkedIn profile for corporate news works for them, while an Instagram page might not be as effective with the lack of image content to share!
You may also find that other smaller or niche platforms such as Tumblr, Bluesky, or Mastodon may be suited for you to advertise your business - take some time to look around these websites and see if you have a potential customer base there. While they may be smaller than Facebook or X (Twitter), there may be a high number of potential customers interested in your specific niche. It may be tempting to jump on video sharing platforms such as TikTok, but only do so if you think you will be able to spare the time and effort to make videos, as well as keep up with viral trends - otherwise it is very easy to get lost in the huge amount of content being produced on the platform. However, plenty of creators have seen success with viral videos thanks to their on-trend content and unique ideas, so it is very possible that TikTok could be what sends your company viral!
It’s very much about finding the right balance for your company and what you are seeking to achieve.
There is no right or wrong way to make use of the social media space – it all boils down to knowing what platform to use, what you want to achieve and how you plan to achieve. Think of it like that and it doesn’t have to be a complete mystery.
A study by Social Media Examiner found that:
33% of users prefer using social media to contract brands instead of the telephone.
65% of senior executives reported that a brand’s reputation is tied to its online sociability
92% of users have found that social media is important to their business. The same percentage found that social media has generated more exposure for their business.
Whether you’re a large business, SME or sole trader, work from home or have a property empire - Towergate have got an insurance policy for you. For more information, visit our dedicated business insurance page.
Alison Wild BCom (Hons), MAAT, MATT, Taxation Technician is a highly respected industry professional who has been working with and advising SMEs in areas including tax, pensions, insurance and marketing for over 25 years. She is a member of the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) and Association of Tax Technicians (ATT) and also has over 20 years' experience as a residential landlord.
Date: September 14, 2023