This year’s Yellow Social Media Report shows that the majority of small businesses aren’t on social media—and those that do have a presence aren’t always active.* While many see it as necessary, they don’t have the resources and information to use it effectively.
Before diving into the world of social media, ask yourself a series of questions to make sure it’s the right channel for your business and you can properly allocate resources for it.
Where are your customers?
Think about your target market. What type of lifestyles do they lead? What are their interests? Understanding who your customers are helps you determine which social media platform they’re most likely using.
But don’t run before you can walk! While your customers are probably on a range of social media sites, don’t jump into all of them. Grow your understanding of the social media landscape and audience, and settle on one. You can always expand once you’re comfortable on the first platform.
More about social media use in Australia is available in this infographic.
Do you have the time?
Businesses can make the easy mistake of signing up to social without allocating resources to it. Can you or a colleague take time out each day to think about and post to social media? It’s great for businesses to provide same-day replies to fans on social media but do you have the resources for this?
Once you have decided which social media platform best suits your customers and schedule, have a think about the type of content you need to accumulate. Instagram, for example, is a great platform for marketers of fashion brands, but to post to Instagram at least three times a week you need interesting images. Who in your business will take these? What ideas do you have outside of just photographing your products? This ‘content strategy’ takes time to complete but will save you time in the day-to-day running of your account.
How does social fit with the way you communicate with customers?
If you have an email contact and phone number for your business, how does your work on social integrate with these? Are the employees responsible for these contact points also aware of what is posted on your social media pages?
By creating a link between the person in customer service and the person running social media, the messaging can remain the same. Perhaps a query has been answered via email that can also be used to answer a question on social media. Ultimately, this will save you time.
How can social media build your brand?
Does your brand convey a certain lifestyle? Social media can communicate your brand lifestyle as well as the physical product.
For example, perhaps you’re a fitness brand that promotes a healthy lifestyle. You could share images on Instagram of people exercising, a healthy lunch, a great sunrise or bush walk. Posts should promote your brand as a whole, not just the physical product.
How will you promote your use of social media to your customers?
To get the best out of social media, people have to know you’re using it. Think about where you can promote your account. Look at a prominent position on your website, email signatures, purchase receipts or physical flyers with your product sales that could promote your social page.
Remember to be patient. Followers won’t come overnight, but if you promote the platform and have a good content strategy, you’ll soon see the results.
Where can you go for further information?
A good place to start is to see what your biggest competitors are doing on social media. What seems to be working for them? What could you do better? Follow your competitors on social media and sign up to their e-newsletters.
Join small business or social media groups on LinkedIn that share interesting information. Follow social media or small business gurus on Twitter if that’s your platform of choice. This way, you’re constantly aware of new ideas in the social media space, even if it’s just reading a couple of interesting articles per week.
Here’s a few to get you started:
*Only 36 per cent of small businesses have a social media presence. And, despite their investment in social media, almost three in 10 have no strategy to drive traffic to their sites—Yellow Social Media Report, May 2014.