For small businesses, social media can be a minefield and the idea of growing an audience into the thousands seems near enough impossible, especially when there are so many other boxes to tick on the to-do list. However, thousands of followers do not mean thousands of sales.
For those who are new to the world of social media, or at least using it for business, there will usually be an overwhelming desire to gain as many followers as possible in as little time as possible. But, although a large following is desirable it is not achievable overnight and certainly not without a lot of work.
Now don't get me wrong, to a certain extent a large following holds value because at first glance it shows that others have trust in your company. Would you buy your lunch from an empty café or the restaurant down the road that’s packed and quite obviously very good? We know which one I'd go for! However, when it comes to social media there are a lot of ways of gaining large amounts of followers who won’t necessarily have any interest in what your business is offering. Imagine a large group of people standing outside of a steak restaurant because they’ve been paid to do so to make it look busy, they’re there but they’re vegetarian and therefore won’t spend any money in your restaurant or recommend it to their friends. Put simply they are not the RIGHT audience and this is why buying followers does not work.
When it comes to social media, believe it or not, it's all about being social and interacting with your potential customers. It's not about you - it's about them. What do they like? What do they do in their spare time? Why would they want to buy your product/service? How can what you do improve their lives? And finally... do you know where they are on social media?
Once you have the answers to these questions it will be easier to work out which channels are best for your business, what sort of content your customers will find most valuable and, most importantly, start driving traffic to your website and making sales.
If you've got a small business and have just started to think about social media don't panic that your follower numbers are small to begin with - we all have to start somewhere. Start by researching your industry, finding the right people to connect with and grow your social accounts organically with content you are proud of. Like they say, 'Anything worth having takes time' and engaged followers are definitely worth having.
By Katherine Heath, head of social media at (hug) London
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