Posted on 22/05/19

Firstly, let us be clear; here at The Business Village we love social media. We use it, have accounts on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and a LinkedIn Page.  We know the value of a good social media presence and recommend using appropriate platforms for your business.  That said, there’s a growing problem with how social media is casually discussed as the answer to all of your marketing and promotion problems.

We have some great tenants who are specialists in social media strategy and know how to use it to great effect. On The Business Village social media accounts, we promote our events, blogposts and latest news with success.  Social media is a valuable part of our marketing and communications toolkit.

For many businesses, issues arise when people who have used social media with personal accounts think that experience is all they need to use it effectively for business – or worse, to tell others how to do so…  One of our tenants came to us for advice after attending an external training event on web design.  The trainer had told them to build a blog page into their business website – so far, so good.  He then told the group that if they posted a blog and put it on social media, it would easily ‘go viral’.  So far, so bad.  ‘Going viral’ is not something you can expect with a bog-standard business post.  To anticipate that happening easily is unrealistic.

Social media for business can certainly have a positive impact.  However, using it effectively means knowing what to post and when, understanding trends, post structure, visual appeal and the importance of aiming for the essential end result of engagement.

If you post something that prompts a reaction, you’ll be more likely to create engagement.  Hopefully, with a business account, you’ll be generating positive responses and there are strategies you can utilise to help fairly standard posts to stand out in this way.  We’ve included a few basic tips later in this post.

One of the fundamental tenets of using social media for business is to keep it professional, whilst maintaining a friendly online persona. People buy from people. More accurately, people buy from people they like and feel a connection with.  Being controversial is very likely to generate a reaction and can lead to a much bigger reach, but always remember that you are posting as a business; so, as a general rule keep the politics, religion and social opinions away from your business profiles. (Unless of course politics or religion is your business!)

If you’re looking to increase your customer base, or to grow your business, social media can certainly play a part.  That’s the key point to remember here – it plays ‘a part’.  Social media is not the panacea for all of your business’s issues with turnover or growth.  A solid marketing and business development strategy is what you need for that.  Within that strategy, a clear plan for how you will utilise and grow your social media presence should be included.

When it comes to setting up a business profile and posting updates on social media, there are several mistakes that business owners make.  Firstly, they focus on numbers and become obsessed with statistics.  This includes constantly checking how many followers they have, how many impressions, RTs and likes they get.  Yes, to a degree this is something to keep an eye on, but it isn’t the most important thing.

Having the highest number of followers is not a measure of social media success – although some people still chase (and even purchase) followers, which is really no more than a vanity exercise. Having 1000 followers that are mostly bots, family, sympathetic friends, employees and random strangers in far-flung countries will not help your business to increase its bottom line.  Having 500 followers who are engaged, including a good mix of existing and potential customers, along with employees, helpful friends and family, partners and stakeholders, will prove to be much more effective.

Organically growing your reach will have a much more positive impact on your business.  There really is no point in posting great content to an echo chamber.  The founder of Wired – Kevin Kelly – famously wrote an essay entitled “1000 true fans” which examines the idea of having fewer, but more engaged ‘fans’ on social media.  This is the goal – an audience of engaged, valuable followers, who will spread the word, using their platforms and importantly, their influence.  Followers/fans who have already done business with you can have great value; especially if they repost your content with a comment or add a positive testimonial to one of your posts.

Building an audience within your geographical marketplace, full of people who are likely to buy from you, or who have already done so creates more value than a gazillion impressions to random strangers around the globe.

With all platforms, it’s important to consider the following key points:

  • Algorithms change frequently and will likely filter your posted content
  • Your posts will only be visible for a set period of time
  • Engagement is essential to make posts successful, whichever platform you are using

The third point is the most important.  Without engagement, your post means nothing.  It’s a billboard that people drive past without noticing, something that scrolls past their eyes and has no impact.  The quality of the content you post is vital.  Then, you need to drip feed it into the feeds to give it the best chance of being noticed by as many people as possible.  Impressions can return some pretty impressive numbers, but even posts with more than 50,000 impressions can return engagement rates of less than 1%.

Here are a few basic tips:

Images:

Using images is very effective in getting your posts noticed – make sure they are relevant, professional and good quality.  Accompany images with interesting text – making sure the grammar and spelling is all in order.

Use Your Networks

Friends, employees and existing customers are important allies in sharing posts and raising interest.  Get them on board and ask them to help you spread the word.  This is especially good if you are posting job vacancies, or special offers.

Groups

Social media groups are also great for posting to a relevant, ready-made audience.  If you are selling stationery and join a ‘Stationery-lovers of Yorkshire’ group, your posts will be likely to hit the spot with members. Most groups have guidelines and rules, so remember to work within them when posting promotional content.

Hashtags

Use hashtags appropriately.  Only include those that are relevant to your post, business or aims. Jumping on a hashtag bandwagon may be helpful, but be sure you do it carefully and make it appropriate to your post or business, otherwise you’ll just look a bit desperate.

Question

A good way to generate a response is to ask a question. Make it relevant to your business, products or service and you have a hook to begin a conversation when people reply.

Budget

Investing huge amounts of time in using social media platforms is pointless unless you are getting a return on that investment.

As with any marketing activity, set a budget – including the value of the amount of time you are willing to spend on it.  Don’t get distracted by good impression figures, analyse which types of posts lead to a positive return for your business.  This could be website visits, referrals or positive feedback from customers; ultimately you want to be looking for conversions.

Scheduling

Consider using a scheduling app that can post content to multiple platforms, without you needing to manually write and post it to Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, etc. yourself. There are several around, some are paid platforms, such as SmarterQueue and MeetEdgar, but many have a free option, usually with some limits

Finally

Getting people to visit your website is a key aim of posting on social media.  Once they’re there, it’s up to you to make sure your website has an effective lead funnel, taking them through the journey from visitor to customer – but that’s a whole other blog post…