A Beginner’s Guide to Social Media for Business

There’s no denying that, in today’s society, social media is huge. Most of us have at least one social media profile on one of the major platforms, and as a business, you too can benefit from the huge popularity of social media.

In 2017, globally we spent an average of 135 minutes per day using social media, so if your business is visible on the major platforms, there’s a good chance that someone could come across you, your products and your services.

When launching social media profiles, it can be a little difficult to know where to start and which platforms will be most suitable for your business, as some are more suited to particular industries and target audiences than others.

What social media can do for your business

It’s first important to understand what you can get out of social media, and to understand that, unlike a number of other digital marketing practices such as PPC or SEO, it’s not necessarily all about making sales.

Through social media, your business could benefit from:

  • Building an online community who recognise your brand and trust you. The instigation of discussions and involvement in the target audience in what you are doing can help achieve this
  • Increased brand awareness as you will be putting your business out there in front of a whole new digital audience that may not have been aware of you before
  • A new platform to announce exciting company or industry news, as well as the launch of new products or services to your portfolio
  • More traffic being sent through to your website as you direct them there through posts and product promotions on your social channels
  • Offering value to your social audience by establishing yourself as an expert in your field so they will keep following your profiles for up-to-date news and information they can trust

It’s incredibly important to be aware that users on social media don’t simply want to be pushed ad content after ad content all the time. They want valuable information, so it’s a great platform to share your content and ask for comments, showcase some of the work you are doing for your customers and get feedback on all that you are doing, from previous work to how you display products on your website.

Social media audiences tend to be very engaged, so if you give them a platform whereby you welcome comment and take action on these comments, you’ll be in a much better position to achieve regular engagement with your social media followers.

The platforms available

Today, there are literally hundreds of social media platforms, from the big players you will be aware of to some of the newer kids on the block that are less well known.

As a starting point into the world of social media for business, it’s probably best to go with what you know, so here are some of the largest and most well used platforms for you to consider for your business:

Facebook

One of the longest running and still largest in the world, Facebook has a huge audience just waiting to hear from you. Facebook pages for brands enable to you add a fantastic assortment of information about your business, including opening times, your location on a map, links to your website, company logo, reviews and so much more.

The platform also provides a great selection of call to actions that you can use on your page to achieve some of your social media goals, whether that be driving more people to your website, getting enquiries via online messages, calls to your office or promoting your offers.

The platform has made a few changes to their algorithm of late to reduce the amount of business page content in a user’s newsfeed, however that doesn’t mean they have eliminated business page content altogether; more updated where it will appear.

If you share lots of content and videos on your page, attempt to engage in discussions with your followers and don’t share too many links out from your page, you’ll still get plenty of impressions within newsfeeds.

Facebook also offers an excellent advertising facility whereby you can boost certain posts to reach an even larger audience. You can select the location you’d like to target and identify lots of different demographics for your target audience, before setting your budget for the promotion to begin. If you have some exciting news or a great offer to share, Facebook advertising is a good way to boost engagement and spread the word.

Twitter

Whilst not as popular as it once was, Twitter certainly still has a part to play in your social media marketing efforts, particularly if you want to encourage discussion and establish yourself as a trusted expert in your field.

If you simply share links to your website through your posts on Twitter, you’ll get very little engagement and will almost be wasting time in developing posts.

Instead, consider creating content that asks lots of questions of the audiences to get their viewpoint and start discussions between Twitter users. You can also run polls to get views as well as sharing thought-provoking content that a user is more likely to share because it is interesting and offers view they may not have considered before.

Instagram

One of the big new players on the market, Instagram has grown rapidly in recent years; so much so that Facebook bought the company for $1bn back in 2012.

This is most definitely a visual platform, so if you have stunning imagery to showcase your products and interesting videos that might show your products in use, you could experience some great results through Instagram.

In order to achieve the best results on Instagram, make use of the features they have available to help boost engagement. You can create stories as well as posts for your newsfeed, and don’t forget to do plenty of research around hashtags, which is one of the most effective ways of getting more people to see your posts.

By looking for well used hashtags linked to your content, you can generate more discussion, encourage more likes of your content and attract potential new followers too.

LinkedIn

If your target audience is business to business (B2B), LinkedIn can be a great social platform for you to engage with other business individuals and companies.

This is where business professionals go to share news and discuss the latest business goings-on, as well as being a highly effective resource when job hunting.

If you are looking to expand your team or have been involved in something exciting within your industry, your LinkedIn profile is definitely the place to share this. You’ll want to be sharing content that will appeal to both a like-minded business person as well as a potential customer, so it needs to be valuable and thought-provoking.

Again, you want your profile to be an area of discussion, as discussion is a great way of getting your business noticed within the competitive business world.

Youtube

If what your company does lends itself to video, then Youtube is a great social platform for you. Whilst you might associate it with videos of cats playing the piano or kids opening Kinder Eggs, it can actually be a highly effective resource in your digital marketing armoury.

Today’s consumers like to get information quickly and at a time that suits them, which is why the growth of video marketing has been so huge in recent years. Some of the best and most effective videos for business are those that provide something useful, such as how-to guides, product tutorials, glimpses behind the scenes, question and answer sessions and any other highly informative content.

Remember to try and link people back to your website in the description area wherever possible, so if you have just done a video tutorial on a particular product, you can then encourage and make it easy for those watching to go and buy that product by linking directly to it on your website.

Getting started

There’s a few good to know things before you get started:

  1. Don’t start profiles on every social media channel you can think of. Starting small gives you the ability to concentrate your efforts and get something working well, rather than having to juggle multiple audiences on varying platforms at the same time. Pick one or two of the most relevant platforms to your target audience and start producing content and building up a following on those first.
  2. Establish your social media goals from the outset. What do you want your efforts on social media to achieve? Is the aim the drive more people to your website? Establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry? Once you have worked this out, you’ll be able to identify the platforms most suited to helping you achieve these goals.
  3. Be sure to share other people’s content too. It can be very easy to just focus on producing your own content, however if you want people to share what you put out there, you’ll need to do the same too. If other companies and organisations see that you are sharing their content, they are much more likely to share yours in return.
  4. Keep a close eye on your profiles to see what is working, and what isn’t. By monitoring what you publish, you’ll soon be able to see what type of posts get the most engagement, and this should therefore help you shape your content plan moving forward.
  5. Don’t expect too much, too soon. It takes time to build a solid following on social media, so don’t be concerned if a few months down the line, you’re still not getting many people engaging with your posts. Stick with it, keep producing great content and your following will steadily start to build as people become more and more aware that you are there.

The audience available through social media is huge, and hugely diverse too. It’s important to do lots of research before you launch your social media profiles to identify which are going to be the most effective channels to target in order to help achieve your end goals. If you do this and go on to produce valuable, engaging and thought-provoking content for your followers, you’ll be on the right path to great success for your business on social media.