While social media began as a way to connect friends and family, it has now become the norm to find all types of businesses and industries with multiple social media accounts.
As social media continues to change the way people communicate on a day-to-day basis, it has become an increasingly important tool for small and medium businesses. Social media allows businesses to have direct communication with their customers. When it comes to recommendations for products and services, people trust others they know far more than any sophisticated marketing campaign.
So, if you’re an SME wanting to start investing in social media, or you’re already there but want to successfully increase your presence, here are our top five tips:
Each business is different and wants to achieve different targets. Clearly defining what your goals are by using social media will help you not only to have a bespoke strategy that will work for you, but it will make it easier to analyse your ROI.
Goals differ for each business; from seeing an increase in sales, driving website traffic and increasing brand awareness to aiming to receive more newsletter subscriptions, share coupons or discounts and have more general enquiries. Whatever it is that you are aiming to achieve by using social media, make sure you write down and address your specific goals.
This is key to any successful social media strategy. You don’t need to be in all different social media channels, or have profiles on all of the platforms that are considered the “top” ones. You simply need to be where your audience is.
This means researching where the online conversations are taking place that revolve around your industry/products/services. Then, start having a presence in these places and engage in those conversations. This doesn’t mean you can’t be on Facebook or Twitter, even if they are showing less consumer-discussion, it just means you can also use more specific niche networks. These will enable you to have a larger and more direct impact on your targeted audience.
Your presence on social media is not about you, but rather, about your customers (and potential customers). Produce original content that shows your expertise, do it in a ‘non-sales’ way and then engage with your audience. You are going to know what the in-depth specific up and downs, hot topics and challenges are within your business market, then you need to listen to what your audience is saying and consequently produce content based on that. Give tips and opinions, solve problems and engage with people in a way that they’ll want to come back for more.
Social media is about… being social. Show your company “behind the scenes” - your offices, staff members, stores, events, day-to-day activities, etc. Showing your company’s personality and a bit more of ‘who is behind that Facebook page’ can be an incredible way for SME’s to get noticed and engage with their audience on social media. People are incredibly curious to know more about a brand besides their products and services.
Managing social media is time-consuming, but is pays off if you are willing to commit to it. Make sure you don’t overdo it, but also, make sure you don’t spend days or even weeks without doing anything. Be consistent in managing your online presence if you wish to build a solid fan base and achieve results. This means posting regularly, daily checking of your social media profiles, responding promptly to comments or questions and regularly researching and listening to what youraudience is talking about. In order to do this successfully, you need to decide whether to manage your social media and online presence internally or work with a specialised social media agency that will do this for you, enabling you to focus on other aspects of your business.
Are you, as an existing SME, having a presence on social media? Let us know your social media story in the comments section below.
Lynsey Sweales is the founder of SocialB a social media and online marketing business that provides training and consultancy in helping business large and small to use these tools effectively. She is also committee member of the Social Media Council, a position that places her amongst a group of industry leaders including representatives from Facebook and Microsoft where they work to endorse the use of social media as an effective and engaging marketing method by developing best practice, conducting research and organising insightful events
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