Data from Pew Research shows how social networks have grown dramatically in the last decade! It helps us see why it is important for business owners (and salespeople, artisans, educators, theologians, etc.) to take social media seriously.
Taking social media seriously means much more than signing up for your favourite social network and posting ads about how great you are.
But before we look at the 9 social media basics for small business, here are more statistics from Pew Research that reinforce the important opportunity social media offers us to reach consumers.
65% of Online Adults Use Social Networks
With 65% of online adults now using social media and 79% using Facebook, any business without an active presence on social media could be accused of being short-sighted.
79% of Online Adults Use Facebook
Facebook remains the most popular social media platform. It is the undisputed King of Social Media with 79% of online adults using the social network. And, there are no signs of Facebook’s dominance ending anytime soon.
As of April 2016, Pew Research Center reports about online adults:
- 79% of use Facebook (up 8% from 2013)
- 32% of use Instagram (up 15% from 2013)
- 31% of use Pinterest (up 10% from 2013)
- 29% of use LinkedIn (up 7% from 2013)
- 24% of use Twitter (up 6% from 2013)
9 Social Media Basics for Small Business
Once you know the target audience you want to reach on social media, what social networks they are active on, and the social networks you will use to reach your target audience, here are 9 social media basics to help you get your social media presence off to a good start.
1. Complete Your Profile
Many of the people who see your business (or personal) profile on a social network are seeing you or your business for the first time.
What they see and read – their first impression – will influence what they think about your business and/or you personally. That first impression will play an important role in determining whether they want to know more about you, or not.
At bare minimum:
- Display a professional profile photo. Also, a cover image where applicable (Facebook, Twitter, etc.)
- Complete all of the information fields. Provide as much information about your business (or you) as allowed. Ensure your website address, contact information, other social networks are listed. Each network is different so where you are able to include more information, take advantage of this.
- Create a distinct web address for each social network. Aim for a web address that is the same across all of your business social networks. For example, twitter.com/JoesPlumbing and facebook.com/JoesPlumbing. This will make it easier for you to remember and share with others. It also makes it easier for others to remember and share. Some social networks setup your web address as soon as you create your account. For others, you may need to take specific steps to make this happen. Look for terms like ‘username’ (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, etc.) or ‘public profile URL’ (LinkedIn).
2. Ensure Consistent Branding
Make sure your branding represents your business well and that it is consistent across all your online networks and print materials. Visitors should be able to easily tell that your website, your social networks, and print advertising are the same business (or person). There should be a ‘family resemblance.’ (Think Nike, Apple, McDonald’s.) For more on the importance of branding read this.
Consistent branding also means that your profile picture should be consistent across your various social networks.
If it’s your logo, then your logo should be current and professional looking (sharp and clear, not blurry). If it’s your photo, use the same one across all social networks where your personal photo appears. As with your logo, a professional looking photo.
Remember, you want people to be able to easily recognize your brand (or you) on not just one social network but everywhere your branding or image appears. Including when they meet you or visit your office or store.
3. Share Content Regularly
Share updates to your social networks regularly. ‘Regularly’ means different things for different networks. Social media management tools like Buffer (my favourite!), Hootsuite, and others help make it easy to schedule content so it appears in a timely fashion on your social networks. If you only use a Facebook Page. the Facebook Post Scheduler is an excellent tool for scheduling content in advance.
4. Respond Quickly To Comments & Questions
Respond to any visitor comments and inquiries made on your social media accounts in a timely manner. Again, each network is somewhat different as to what is acceptable but as with most things customer related, faster (within a few hours) is always better.
In an article by Jay Bayer on the topic of social media response times and expectations states, “Among respondents to The Social Habit who have ever attempted to contact a brand, product, or company through social media for customer support, 32% expect a response within 30 minutes. Further, 42% expect a response within 60 minutes.”
5. Share Content Your Customers Value
Share content that customers and potential customers want to see, read, listen to and/or watch. Social media – even social media advertising – is not like traditional advertising. Content shared needs to be seen as interesting, helpful, inspirational and/or valuable to those you are hoping to reach. If it isn’t, those you hope to reach will tune you out. Worse yet, they may unfollow you, mark your messages as spam or block your content from appearing in their newsfeed.
6. Link To Your Website
At least occasionally share content from your website that customers and prospective customers will value. Add an appropriate image or video to the post, where one is not auto-generated, and include a link back to the area where the content is available on your website. This may be a link to:
- a relevant blog article
- a frequently asked question
- an opportunity to download a free resource
- a ‘how to’ training video or informational video
- contest information
- interesting product information and tips
- sales, coupons or special pricing information
- other information that will be interesting, helpful or valuable to your target audience
7. Use Images & Videos
Use images and videos to help get your message across. Images and videos help what you share on social media ‘pop’. Images and videos make the difference between someone seeing or noticing your content or not noticing it at all.
8. Prepare to Pay
To be successful in reaching your audience on social media, be prepared to spend money to promote what you share, at least on networks like Facebook. This will be par for the course in the future. But for now, this is essential for most businesses using Facebook.
Social media may have started out free for business, but it is rapidly becoming less so. In particular, most businesses with Facebook Pages must now pay to reach even their fans in the Facebook newsfeed. The flip side of this is Pages also have the opportunity, by paying, to reach audiences that are not connected with their Page or even their fans. Paying for Facebook actually, opens up new opportunities to target and reach more people.
9. Persevere – Don’t Quit
Real progress or growth with social media is a slow, steady and sometimes painful process. This is especially true when you are just getting started with social media. Like most anything of value, social media requires time, attention and especially perseverance to produce results.
Don’t wait, get started today!
Need help with your social media marketing? We offer a variety of social media services pricing packages based on the unique needs of our small business clients. Call Sue today at 1 778 823 2801 (PST) or contact us by email to learn more.