If you're looking at this article you're probably feeling quite overwhelmed about the whole 'social media thing'. You're not alone - many people feel very lost when sitting down to review and promote their business' social presence. There are so many different platforms, so many things to do and so little time! It can be really difficult to know what to focus on and how to effectively manage your time on as task that could easily take up your entire day.
This is why we thought it would be a great idea to write an article to help you out and stop you falling into a social media pit of doom.
Our top tips:
1. Don't try to do everything at once. If you're new to social media or a small business just starting out, there's no rush to be on every single social media platform straight away! Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram, FourSquare, YouTube, LinkedIn, SlideShare, Flickr … the list is endless and they aren't all right for your business! Each platform has its own unique audience and you need to think carefully about which ones you invest your time in. As a general rule, Facebook and Twitter are the most obvious choices, and LinkedIn is great for B2B businesses too.
2. Don't bother if your brand has no personality. No one wants to read a law firm droning on with technical jargon, or the local discount shop ramming offers down your throat five times a day in your news feed. What you think qualifies as interesting may certainly not be for anyone else, or even potential customers. You're also competing with every other business out there, and people are only receptive to so much information - so you need to make yours stand out.
3. If you're doing it to be 'cool' you're doing it for the wrong reasons. This is a classic case of CEOs and top management thinking it's a fantastic idea to 'get on' social media simply because everyone else is doing it. What are you hoping to achieve? Do you have a social media plan in place, with a social media policy and in-house resources? If you can't answer these questions, then it's time to do some planning.
4. Research first. Leading on from the above top tip is the vital need to research your brand, its customers, your competitors and your approach to social media. Communicating online is a great tool to widen your audience, but it can also present the opportunity to badly damage your companies' reputation and marketing consistency. Take a look at what is working for other companies and what you could use in your social media plan. If you don't have an in-house expert, it's also probably wise to invest in some training or third party outsourcing.
5. Monitor your progress. Don't just jump on the social media bandwagon feet first and hope for the best. You need to review its success, return on investment and how it relates to business goals. Measure your key performance indicators, engagement, conversions and referrals. For example if you're a restaurant, how has social media impacted online bookings, offers redeemed, new customers, footfall and menu views? Report on all of these factors monthly so you can review your techniques periodically.
6. Don't be tempted by fake fans! Many companies starting out on social media will undoubtedly be approached by companies offering 1000 Facebook likes for £50, or 10,000 new Twitter followers for £80. Whilst their promises seem genuine and you can't believe your luck when you think of all those potential new customers at such a small price - don't be easily fooled. These offers will do you much more harm than good as your new accounts will be swarmed with fake and far flung profiles that gradually disappear within days of payment. Your profiles will also be susceptible to a lot more spam and the social media platforms will look harshly on your page. Facebook's algorithm in particular will drop your business' trustworthiness and reduce its visibility to your real fans. So if you're feeling starry eyed at a tempting offer, remember that the whole point of being on social media is to increase your visibility and boost your brand image - exactly what you will be tarnishing.
7. Take advantage of free tools. There are loads of free tools out there to help you with your social media management. Hootsuite and Bitly are personal favourites as you can use Hootsuite to schedule all of your posts across multiple platforms, whilst Bitly measures click through rates on links (tying into the reporting side of social media management).
8. Keep calm. If you're still hyperventilating by the end of this article then you may need to invest in some help and more research. If you're feeling a bit more confident then it's time to get started. Remember to break down the planning process into little chunks and start off small whilst you get the hang of social media. Success won't happen overnight, so you need to keep at it and keep your knowledge updated!