Top 10 Tips for... Using social media in your business

Top 10 Tips for... Using social media in your business

Social media can be a fun way of keeping up to date with what’s going on in the world, particularly when catching up with your family and friends. But it can be a great tool for engaging your team too. 

The use of social media websites is now a common part of our lifestyles in the UK with figures from showing that at the beginning of 2017, the number of social media users in the UK was between 39 and 42 million. 

That’s millions of ways to connect with your clients or customers, engage your workforce, and help grow your business. Socially savvy business owners know it’s about engaging with the right audience, with content that's valuable, engaging and interesting. 

Here are our Top 10 Tips for using social media effectively for your business:

1. Create a social media plan

Just like any other marketing project, you need a social media strategy to define what you want to achieve and how you will do it. Your social media plan needs to be aligned to your company’s marketing strategy. When considering what you want to achieve, think about your archetypal employee, customer or client – what interests them and how your social media posts can add value to their lives. 

2. Audit your existing social media

You might be starting to build your social media presence from scratch or you might have some accounts set up but dormant, or hardly used. Or, you might have a social media account which simply isn’t working for you. Your social media strategy should include an audit of any accounts your business currently has and how you plan to move followers to an alternative so that it’s closed down effectively. 

3. Create a platform

Using social media effectively is a balancing act between planning scheduled posts in advance and reacting to the here and now. To do this well, you need to be able to manage your social media posts across different sites, from one place. Social media management tools such as Hootsuite enable you to do this well. If you’re a professional Tweeter, then Tweetdeck allows you to schedule posts, monitor local and global news trends via hashtags and to respond to any comments quickly and easily. 

4. Choose carefully

Choosing the right social media platforms for your business can be tricky as the choice is so vast. While many businesses use a strategic mix of sites, it’s more important to begin with one or two which provide a good fit for your business. To help you decide, think about demographics – how old is your likely audience, for example? What is the nature of your content? Is it more factual or visual? Facebook and Twitter are the most common social media sites to start with but Instagram and Pinterest can be a wonderful way of showcasing your business with colourful and vibrant pictures. 

5. Build a community

Social media is about building a virtual community of people who are interested in what you are saying. It's basically your shop window and a brilliant opportunity to showcase what your business excels at. Of course, it’s nice to be liked but don’t fall into the trap of chasing huge numbers of followers. It’s more important to create a strong community of people who are switched on to you and your brand.

6. Create a calendar

Managing various social media pages across different platforms can be time-consuming and all-engrossing if you’re not careful. It’s important to learn how to plan in advance and to schedule messages. Your Tweetdeck or Hootsuite can help you do this. You need to think about what basic content you can post and remember the ‘one in seven’ rule; one post in seven should be used to promote your business and the rest should focus on valuable content, for example, about industry news, updates about your clients and employees.

7. Encourage engagement 

There may be times when you need to use social media to tell your work teams or followers something important. But remember, social media will help your business flourish if you encourage interaction. Most people like to be asked what they think, so give them the opportunity to do so.

8. Find inspiration

It’s important to do your research before you begin to help you learn not just how a social media platform works but how you want to run yours. Find out what your employees are interested in, who your competitors are and what they’re doing on social media. How will you set yourself apart from them and get your employees engaged? You might find a host of social media accounts which have nothing to do with your industry or business, but you love the kind of content they use or the tone of the messages. It’s also useful to look at how others are using video and photographs to grab people’s attention.

9. Address problems promptly 

Your social media sites should be monitored for any negative comments or feedback as you might occasionally be faced with someone who wants to vent. If you encounter anyone who is argumentative or upset, then just like with any crisis situation, you need to apologise publicly and ask them to contact you so you can discuss their issues in private.  Anyone reading such messages will see that you are looking to help and won’t shy away from a tricky situation.

10. Show your personality and have fun

Social media should be fun! Work teams and customers are now looking for more from their employers and from the businesses and organisations they interact with online. It’s much more about aligning your brand and values to your entire audience and social media provides the perfect way to do this. It’s an opportunity to show your company’s personality and using videos, photos, quizzes and interactive content is the perfect way to do this. But don’t forget to set some boundaries – everything you post online should reflect the standards you’d expect of your employees in person. 

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