Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
We’re all on one or other of them.
From the Queen and the Prime Minister to minor celebrities – almost everyone has an account these days.
If used correctly it can be an effective way of promoting your business and bringing in a wider audience.
In the first of two instalments, we are going to look at Facebook and Twitter, before turning our attention to Instagram, LinkedIn and Pintrest in the second part.
But first of all you need to develop a social media strategy.
Having a game plan
In an age where the younger generation is online almost 24/7, social media can be one of the most powerful tools for reaching them.
That’s why it’s important to come up with a business strategy and content plan for what you want to achieve.
First of all, think about your target audience and the type of content they would be interested in.
Through generating your own content such as blogs and articles, or using someone else’s content, you can tap into your key audience’s interests, worries and emotions.
That can take the form of choosing a topical subject relevant to your business and putting your own spin on it or by inviting your followers or connections to have their say.
A good way to come up with ideas is to draw up a calendar of the main events affecting your business and your customers (eg Easter or the Budget) and to consider how their needs change and what they might be looking for during the year.
For further inspiration, a quick search on search engines like Google Alerts or Feedly or other news alert subscriptions can help you find timely and relevant material to use.
Finally, have a look at what your competitors are doing to see if there are any ideas that you can improve upon or use to market yourself better.
Putting it into practice
Once you have devised a plan (taking into account that breaking news can change things on a daily or even hourly basis), it’s time to get creative.
The secret with online content is to keep it short and sweet and to the point in order to hook the reader.
The best way to do that is through reviews, opinion columns, how to guides, and lists.
While text is important, the use of video clips, infographics, and memes can also enhance your content.
Also, think about scheduling when you are going to post your content.
Studies show that most people use social media in the evening and at the weekend when they have more free time.
Then you’re ready to go.
Facebook was the first social media site I signed up back in 2007.
Now almost everyone, in the Western world at least, seems to be on it, such is its popularlity.
If you have a business account on Facebook, the key is to keep your message consistent with that of your website.
With Facebook, the trick to generating a wider audience and drive traffic is to create content that your audience can like and share.
Sharing content, liking someone else’s content, inviting people to like or comment on your page, can be a good way of improving your reach, as can participating in group discussions and responding to comments.
Another tactic that can work well is to post how to guides or interesting stories that grab people’s attention.
US President Donald Trump is a big fan.
When used correctly, it can be a powerful tool for to raise awareness of your brand, but also to respond to customer complaints in a timely fashion.
To make the most of your Twitter account, include as much detail as possible on your home page, including name and a short biography about the nature of your business, a profile picture, and a link to your website.
Request to follow other users that are likely to generate leads and provide sources of information and interest that are most relevant to you.
When thinking about content, a good way of picking up on the most interesting topics of the day is to look at those with the # symbols that are trending on the left hand side of the page.
But before you Tweet, think carefully about the implications of what you are saying and check to make sure there are no errors, factual or otherwise, and that it is in no way defamatory.
The general rule of thumb is that you need to be Tweeting at least twice a day to pick up traffic.
If you are copying and pasting links from websites use a tool like Bitly to shorten the web address so that your followers can access your content more easily.
That’s all for now. Tune in for Part 2 next time.
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