Where to start with social media for business

Introducing social media to your business

Once upon a time, getting your business services or products out there meant relying on expensive marketing and advertising strategies. But the introduction of social media means you can now get high levels of exposure for your firm along with immediate feedback and interaction from and with your customers for little outlay. That’s not to say, however, that it won’t require a lot of effort on your part. Here are the key steps to creating an effective social media plan:

Don’t jump straight in

Just as you wouldn’t start a business without drafting a business plan, don’t leap straight into the world of social media without thinking about what you want to get out of it. Do you want to simply build greater awareness of your brand, to use social media to provide better customer service, to generate new leads, or to drive sales or traffic to your main website? Having a clear idea of your final aims will help you to develop your strategy and keep it on track.

Know your audience

Not only do you need to define your goals, but you also need to define your target audience. What do you know about your customers? Think about how old they are, what their income is, where they live, and what sort of job or hobbies they have. By putting together a profile of your target audience, you’ll be able to tailor your strategy to them, sharing items that will be of interest to them and posting your messages at times they are likely to be online.  Don’t look at social media as a one-way marketing channel, interact with followers, answer questions, thank them, and build rapport with your new audience.

Review the type of multimedia they react to on social media, do they like podcasts, watch videos, take quizzes, share vines, talk about infographics? Review what makes your audience tick.

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Which platforms will work for you?

There are so many social media options that signing up and maintaining all of them would leave you with little time to do anything else. Select the ones which work best for you and the ones which most closely appeal to your target audience. If you are selling business-to-business, you might choose to concentrate on LinkedIn, for example. Or if images are key, then Pinterest might be for you. If your audience tends to use Facebook to interact with their friends, arranging nights out, and posting photographs, then that’s where you should be. Once you have established yourself on two key sites, you could always expand onto others.

Consistency is key

Once you’ve set up your social media pages, you need to continue to provide content for your audience of users and followers. Use analytics tools to find out when they are most likely to log on or interact with you and post items of interest at those times. Make sure you update your pages regularly. If your followers like to check what’s new first thing in the morning or when they have a break for lunch, don’t disappoint them.

Move with the times

For every magazine, an editorial planner is key. And, the same should hold true for your social media strategy. Set up a calendar that includes themes throughout the year and any dates which are important for your industry. This might include publishing present ideas for Mother’s Day or outfit suggestions for Valentine’s Day date. But also react to unexpected events. If there’s a cold snap that comes out of the blue, do you have a message or products you could push? Or if there’s a news story in the media that your audience might appreciate, share it.

By focusing on these steps and keeping your goals in sight, you should be able to start and continue conversations which create a buzz around your business.

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