How small business owners can use social media to their advantage

In the United States alone, an estimated 244 million people used social media in 2018. On top of this, that number is expected to increase to exceed 257 million by 2023. With this number of people readily available, it is crucial to learn how to use social media to your advantage so that you, and/or your business, doesn’t get left behind…

What is social media?

Social media includes websites and applications that enable users to create and share content. We’ve all heard of these sites/applications, whether we use it or not: Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest and more recently Tik Tok. And thats just to name few, the list goes on.

Social media has been under scrutiny. It’s been blamed for increased levels of depression in adolescents, it is criticised for producing unobtainable beauty standards and for allowing cyberbullying.

Should I be using social media?

Despite the concerns that many people have surrounding social media, there are a massive 3.5 BILLION social media users worldwide. Thats nearly HALF the total population of the world. So, of course social media has advantages in abundance. Quite obviously, it allows you to reach A LOT of people, for a relatively low cost.

Social media is undoubtably good for business. 71%of consumers who have had a positive experience with a brand on social media are likely to recommend that brand to others. Similarly, 49% of consumers claim that they depend on influencer recommendations. With some influencers costing less than £500, you can reach over 500,000 people. Thats a lot of people hearing about your brand by someone they trust.

How to use social media to your advantage

Like anything in life, you have to do it properly. Just as its easy to spread a good image on social media, it’s just as easy to spread a poor one – and you don’t want to do that. So, here are seven tips on how to make sure you can use your social media account to your advantage.

1. Focus on quality not quantity

As a social media user, how annoying is it when a brand pops up ALL over instagram? We’ve all seen the brands that have clearly paid every single influencer out there to promote their brands. Or, we’ve all signed up to a companies mailing list just to be harassed by a new email every three hours. What does it do? It has the complete opposite effect to what was intended and puts you off ever using that brand. 

When using any social media platform, focus on producing high quality, well-targeted post. Get influencers who fit into your demographic and use them in small amounts. The key is to be subtle, don’t ram stuff down peoples throats.

2. Only target those you need to

Just like how when you wrote a business plan, you’ll have identified your target market. When posting on social media you need to know WHO do you want to target.

Parents? Students? Teenage girls? Base your social media usage and content around that. Producing stuff suitable to your target audience (e.g., don’t start trying to promote baby grows to students) will stop you wasting time or you money. It also means you’re not annoying people who don’t care, which protects your brands image.

3. Engage with your audience

One really effective way to use polls or surveys. Ask your followers questions, for example what they want to see from your brand in the future, what they think you’re going to launch next week or what products they prefer.

Polls/surveys allows your followers to to respond with minimal effort, making engagement more likely. On top of this, using polls or surveys on social media is a great way to gather feedback.

4. Be prepared for negativity

Any publicity is good publicity, right? Wrong.

A negative image can spread FAST on social media. There is always going to be someone who is hard to please or who has had a negative experience and wants to let others know about it. Respond to any backlash or negative comments in a professional way. In general, you should always try to rectify things for your customers. But now you’re on social media, it is ever more important to try to make it right so that other customers can see you rectifying your mistakes.

5. Hire through social media

Using social media can help you to attract employees who already care about your company.

They are following you, they have a genuine interest in you and they want you to succeed. Having employees like this will make your business more successful, as having passion for what you do makes success your main focus.

6. Humanize your social media

It is simple: people respond best to people. When using social media, avoid robotic marketing tactics and focus on being relatable, interesting, fun and most importantly, human. Humanize your brand by putting a face to a name (hate to break it to you, but this face has to be yours), use a voice that makes your brand relatable and communicate your ideas in ways that are believable and can be easily understood.

7. Consider whether social media is right for you

It is advisable to use social media to appeal to the younger, tech-savvy population. These guys are glued to their phones and spend a large portion of their day scrolling. Therefore, social media advertising and marketing will reach them.

However, if you’re trying to sell chairlifts to grandma’s, then is social media the right place to do your marketing? Probably not. As they say, ‘horses for courses’ – to get grandmas to buy chairlifts, your advertising budget would be better spent doing door to door sales or by putting posters up in doctors surgeries.

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