Social media for business

Any business with a website wants to connect with their target audience (potential customers) on their web pages. The many different social media platforms provide a great way to connect and engage with that target group within their preferred online environment. Social media enables you to attract visitors and get your content seen but random tweets or posts will not be effective. We have some good advice on what to do but if you would like some additional help get in touch. H P Consulting can help you get the most from your efforts or provide extra resource.

What can social media be used for?

The main benefits for a business using social media are:

 

 

Photo Credit: khalid Albaih cc

You probably will be doing many of these things at the same time and use different platforms in different ways however if you have a strategy and an editorial/content plan they should all fit in comfortably together.

It is very likely that your business, products or industry is already being discussed online. Having a presence within social media will allow you to add your voice.

Social media is now a fixed part of the marketing mix however there are a large number of companies who are not using these free platforms to their full advantage. Given that there is no cost to joining in it is usually a lack of time or resources that holds businesses back probably combined with little knowledge on how to use these channels effectively. If you need persuading have a look a these statistics:

The five largest social networks based on active monthly users: Facebook (1 billion), YouTube (800 million) and Google+ (343 million) followed by Twitter and LinkedIn with 200 million active monthly users each (TECHi)
92% of small businesses say that social media is an effective marketing technology tool. (e-Strategy Trends)
65% of small business owners say that social media helped them stay engaged with customers (TECHi)
80% of Facebook users prefer to connect with brands on Facebook. (WordPress Hosting SEO)
34% of marketers say they have generated leads using Twitter. (WordPress Hosting SEO)
57% of marketers have acquired customers via their blogs, and 52% of consumers say blogs have impacted their purchasing decisions. (B2B Infographics)
64% of Twitter users and 51% of Facebook users are more likely to buy the brands they follow online (TECHi)

There are many other compelling statistic that could be added to this list however you can see that social media is effective and probably a place where your business should have an active presence. Another good reason to be part of the online conversation is that your competitors or alternatives to your product or services are already there! Don't get left behind.

Social media strategy

The beginning of an organised social media strategy is to review what you are going to base it on - for most companies it will be new content added regularly to your website. This will give you something to talk about and a reason for visitors to visit your blog or site. So the first stage is to consider what you wish to promote and produce a content strategy or plan for the year. This should reflect your marketing objectives, key holidays such as Easter or Christmas (if your product or service has seasonal aspects), new product launches or developments and any key industry events. (See more on content here >>)

Choose the right social media platform

Next you need to select you social platforms. Not all of them will be a good fit so choose according to where you target audience likes to be. Do some research and find out where people are tweeting or posting about your industry, products or services. Have a look at this infographic for some extra insight on the different profiles. Sign up and start an account in your company name. NB Do not mix up personal accounts with your business presence online - nothing worse than some blurry party pictures getting mixed up with your new product announcement. Make sure you fill out all the information sections and add the right images. More on images to use here >>

Armed with this calendar you can then start to plan your social media support.

If you need help to do this get in touch >>

Social media tip: Start small and grow. Only take on what you can continue to support on a regular and consistent basis. Do not make many posts in the first week then dry up by the following month

Be interesting to get friends and followers

Create interesting content and you will have plenty to tweet and post about. (More on content ideas here >>). Consider the different formats and restrictions of the various channels, use headlines that will be attractive and encourage sharing. Your should look to follow up new posts on your site or blog with a tweet, post or pin announcing that it is live. Remember always link back to the article on your site. If you use hashtags be consistent, Above all be regular don't go weeks without contact. Active accounts see all the action and continue to grow

Having posted keep an eye on your various channels ready to respond to people who interact with you. People like to know they are dealing with a real personality so be polite, offer thanks and kudos and comment in return. You will be rewarded by a steady increase in your followers.

Take time also to find new contacts, in whatever medium you choose look for like minds and leaders, Join their accounts and they will probably join yours as you have something interesting on offer. Choose a small group of leaders that are influential and have large numbers of followers or likes, post content or comment to them and in time that will get shared with their larger audience if you can catch their attention. Be on the look out for active individuals with a smaller number of followers on their account follow them and they are likely to follow back as they will be keen to grow their audience and influence.

Use your site analytics to see where your social traffic is coming from. Review what works and do more, consider what fails and see how you can make it better. Benchmark your activity by signing up to a service such as Klout. Its not a perfect measure however it will enable you to check your progress on a regular basis.

Social media tip: Ensure that visitors to your pages can register or have some way to collect their data (maybe an incentive like a free white paper will help). The point of your social media efforts is to create traffic that you can convert.

Some of the main social media platforms to consider

Facebook

FacebookWith over 1 billion active users this is the most popular social-networking site of them all. Facebook allows you to post endless varieties of content, from pictures of company events to customer reviews and feedback. More than half of businesses are on Facebook, because it’s long established and many business owners already have personal accounts that makes them familiar with the technology. As there are so many potential customers your content is likely to find a broad audience. As a business you are better to start a page not a personal account. To save resources you can set up a feed from your blog using RSS to automatically post new content. Try a service such as twitterfeed. You still need to put in a personal appearance though - no one will want to interact just with a robot.

Twitter

TwitterThis microblogging site can be harder for companies to get to grips with. In particular the limit of 140 character to share news or talk about products and services. Hashtags can help you flag trends or products, but don't use too many. Do include a link back to you site and the latest post. Use a service such as Bitly to shorten long URL's. The platform does have great immediacy not found elsewhere which is perfect for late announcements and driving footfall to local business. Make sure you tweet regularly to keep you followers engaged. With a little practice it should only take a few minutes each day. Remember to respond to people that contact you and offer thanks to those who retweet of favourite your own messages.

LinkedIn

LinkedInLinkedIn is the dominant player in online professional networking. you can think of it as a version of Facebook for the corporate world. It lets you connect with business associates, and post an extensive biography and resume, with highlights on your best services or talents. It provides an “endorse” feature similar to Facebook’s “like” button.use it to give a boost to your connections’ expertise — and get some kudos for yourself in return. You can also link up you RSS feeds from other social media, such as Twitter or your blog.

In addition to networking look at their "groups" which allows you to engage with others in your industry or marketplace. Maybe start your own group and attract members, share your knowledge and showcase your business.

Pinterest

PinterestThis site lets users “pin” pictures of favorite items straight from their computer screen. Anything, from clothes, furniture to recipes can be added to their personal Internet pinboard which can be shared with friends and followers

The site has a female bias — 80 percent of its users are women. Links (just click on an image) takes interested buyers directly to company websites.

As with many social channels , it’s important to avoid too much self-promotion. So as well as featuring your own product start by sharing news or items unrelated to your business as well is a good tactic.

You can ask fans to pin pictures of your products, but also network with the site’s biggest pinners which will improve you reach and exposure.

YouTube

YouTubeYouTube’s real value comes from its ability to let you talk directly to both current and potential customers. Embed their code on your own site to benefit from its sharing possibilities.

Consider posting videos of your staff at work, chatting with customers giving testimonials or put up a tutorial or" how to" for a product, service or explain how a part of your business works.

You Tube is search engine friendly(part of Google) remember to full optimise each post with keywords and company or product detail.

Videos increasingly appear in search engine results pages that might offer you a better ranking position than a page from you site.

Google+

Google+Take advantage of Google+ to gain more exposure for your content and your business. As it is part of Google which will provide most of your search traffic it shouldn't be ignored. First claim you company name and start your page. Complete all your information fields - it will help your visibility. Link the account to your web pages. Google+ is the main source of information and data that powers the maps that appear in google search results any time someone put in a location based search. If location is an important part of your business getting seen here is essential. Google+ hangouts can be a great, free alternative to online meeting or webinar software. While you can only have 10 participants actively on video, you can stream the video to an unlimited number of viewers using YouTube. Google+ is growing in importance - even if you don't make many posts this is a must have addition to your social channels.

Social media tips

Don't take on too much. Start with just one or two accounts. The businesses that succeed with social media make it a quick part of their daily routine.

Look at what your competitors do.

Don’t post too much but don’t post too little, either. Make sure you have something to say at least once or twice a week and never go more than two or three days without posting something.

Don't give an aggressive sales pitch. You will turn off followers, and ultimately, customers, if every post promotes your products.

Remember to be fun, engaging and part of the community so you can build your brand, reputation and appeal. 

Make sure your site, email and all other forms of communication integrate with social media (especially your blog). Give your visitors plenty of ways to follow, tweet or like you and you brand.

Helping you to get your social media right

Creating content and planning what you might need over the course of a year can be a major task. If you would like some additional input or resource for keeping your social media up to date why not contact us for an initial chat. We can provide affordable help.

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