Will social platforms be around for years to come? I believe so. But perhaps not in the form we know now. The social media landscape is constantly evolving. As technology improves the best minds in digital find new ways to utilise its potential and develop new platforms with new ways for us to interact with our peers and our customers. And with those new platforms come new business opportunities. New ways of reaching potential clients develop and for a small business present a chance to boost sales and increase brand awareness.
But, what does this all mean when it comes to the daily grind for small businesses?
Well, typically it means constant research to remain up to date with all things social media. Read articles, listen to podcasts, check what your competitors are doing, and so on. But how many small businesses have the time for all of that? Not many.
So, here are a few tips to help you and your small business navigate the social media maze:
1. Make a plan - Like most things in life, social media is a lot less stressful/time-consuming when a plan is put in place. What is it you want social media to do for your business? How can it add value and integrate with the marketing you already do? How much time do you have available to give to social media? Once you have answered these questions think about the important events throughout the year that relate to your business and plan your content around them. It doesn't have to be a fully comprehensive content calendar but it's great to have a rough idea so you have time to produce relevant content and can avoid the last minute panic. Do you need fancy software? No. Use an Excel spreadsheet, it works just fine. Sit down with your team and work through the year together, it's a great way to get your team working together too!
2. Utilise UGC (User Generated Content) - UGC is one of the most valuable assets to a small business out there at the moment. Creating your own content is time-consuming and can be expensive if you need to hire a professional photographer/copywriter so why not reach out to your already loyal fans? A great way to encourage your customers to create their own content is to provide an incentive. Start your own hashtag and encourage your followers to join in (ideally on Instagram) and say you'll feature your favourite entry each week, run a competition with the prize being one of your services or products, or ask someone you feel understands your brand well if they would consider writing a blog post for you. Never be afraid to ask, you'll often be pleasantly surprised.
3. Don't focus on follower numbers - We all want our follower numbers to climb into the thousands, and over time that will happen, but it shouldn't be the original goal. If you're building a small business it's vital that your customers are engaged and interested in what you do. High engagement on any social platform will indicate whether you are targeting the right audience, an audience that cares about what you do and will hopefully become loyal customers. It is, however, a two-way street when you're a small business–you also need to care about your potential customers. Reach out, engage with them and let them know how your product/service can improve their lives. You will see your following start to grow the more value you provide.
4. Find a social partner - Time is of the essence and social media has become a skill in its own right so it will be difficult for you to get the most out of it without learning A LOT. So, my advice, find a small agency that can provide you with the support you need as you embark on your social journey. Finding the right company can sometimes be a challenge but it's well worth the effort. Most importantly try to avoid agencies that only offer social media. Yes, they may be experts, but they may not have the time or knowledge to tell you how social media can integrate with your entire business marketing strategy and current branding. A digital marketing/branding agency that offer social media as well would be the perfect partner in crime for a small business.
By Katherine Heath, social media expert at (hug)london
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