Social Media Tips & Advice for Businesses
Social media is fast becoming one of the main players in the marketing game, with more and more businesses turning to it to increase their brand awareness, improve customer service, and boost sales. In 2018, 68% of UK businesses were using social media, and that figure has only grown. Need more convincing about social media marketing? Check out our article laying out all its brilliant benefits.
So, you know a lot of businesses use it. You know the great benefits it yields. You want in. Next step: how do you navigate the many moving parts that make up social media marketing? And how do you ensure you make the most of it?
Whether you’re just starting out with your business’ social media, or looking to improve it, this article is here to help.
Here are our social media marketing tips and advice for using social media effectively for your business:
1) Set Social Media Goals
One of the most important social media tips we can offer is this: set goals. Even if you’re just thinking of using social media for some low-level brand awareness or as an avenue of communication with customers, having some sort of goal is the best way to ensure you make the most of social media for your business.
Have a plan of what you want to achieve from social media. Do you want to grow followers? Increase brand awareness? Engage with customers? This goal can permeate your strategy and ensure you don’t become directionless in your efforts.
Once you’re comfortable with this, set specific goals, such as growing your followers by 50% in a year, get an average of X amount of likes per post, or reply to comments and messages in X amount of time. Make your goals ambitious, but attainable.
Interestingly, 65% of UK & Irish businesses said their goal was to increase brand awareness, but without measurable goals as exemplified above, you won’t know if you’ve achieved this aim.
2) Choose Your Platforms
So, you’ve got your goal. Now, before you dive in head first and create a profile for your business on every social media platform you can think of, ask yourself: is this the best strategy?
Different platforms have different formats and intentions, and should be used in different ways. First, do a bit of research into what Facebook is best used for, what sort of content is posted on Instagram, whether MySpace is still a thing (surprisingly, it is!). Then, consider which platforms’ intentions best match your business and your social media goals.
Some examples of platforms’ best uses:
- Facebook has such a varied user base that it’s hard to pin down exactly what it’s best used for. With 2.9 billion users, it’s probably the only platform most businesses should be on. It’s great for posting images, videos, and business updates, as well as a place to display your contact information, opening hours, and a pathway to your website.
- Instagram is a visual platform, so best used with strong visual content. It’s also a go-to platform if your target age demographic is 34 and under as over two thirds of its users fall into this description (we’ll talk more about audiences later).
- Twitter is used for short messages (240 characters or fewer). Great for quick updates, not so great if you don’t have a strong brand voice or you’re a very visual business. It’s also one of the best options for communicating and interacting with your customers and audience with mentions and replies like no other platform.
Don’t stress too much about not being present on every platform - you’re likely not losing out on reaching potential customers. Social media users in the UK have an average of 6.9 social media profiles - that’s plenty of overlap across platforms! So, the chances are, if your intended customers are on social media, they’ll probably be on whatever platforms you do choose.
Once you’ve got the platforms you think suit you, now you can go ahead and make those profiles.
3) Optimise for Each Platform
As mentioned, the different social media platforms have different formats and intentions. So, to get the most out of your chosen platforms, you need to cater to their intentions accordingly.
Don’t just create a post and send it out in exactly the same format across all your platforms.
For example, hashtags can be a useful tool on Instagram and Twitter, but aren’t as applicable on Facebook. This is due to Instagram and Twitter having easy systems for finding or following hashtags, making it easier for users to find your content, whereas on Facebook the user has to search them out. Furthermore, your hashtag strategy on Instagram and Twitter should be different from one another due to the nature of the platforms.
HASHTAG TOP TIP: There’s no magic hashtag formula that will get you thousands of followers overnight. While Instagram and Twitter have systems for finding content through hashtags, there’s no guarantee that your post will appear in this feed (there’ll almost definitely be a bias towards bigger brands). Sometimes all you’re doing is adding a link away from your content. Our advice for hashtags would be to not take too much time on them, especially at the loss of your content. It’s far better to focus on getting your content right - that’s the thing that will get engagement.
In your research for each platform you should also consider the algorithms they use, e.g. do they post content chronologically or based on other factors? Are there ways you can optimise for these algorithms?
For example, in 2016, Instagram stopped showing posts in chronological order, and replaced it with an algorithm that chooses which posts it thinks users want to see and in what order (although in 2022 it’s bringing back the option of a chronological feed). You therefore need to consider this in your strategy and find ways to optimise in these circumstances.
While Instagram’s feed is ruled by the mysterious algorithm, Instagram Stories are… also ruled by a mysterious algorithm. However, this one will sometimes list Stories in chronological order and always shows all the Stories in the list, whereas your posts might not show in the feed at all. This makes it easier and more probable that your followers will see your Story by scrolling across at the top of their app.
You can use this to your advantage to make up for views and engagements the algorithm may have taken away from you. Simply share your recent post to your Story and maybe even add a message about what the post is or why your followers might want to see it, especially if it’s an important update for your customers. Now they can simply click the link in your Story and be taken straight to your post!
4) Know Your Audience
As we’ve established, different social media platforms have different purposes. This also applies to the audiences. You should think about what people are expecting from posts on Facebook versus on Instagram versus on Twitter, often varying in professionalism and format.
Furthermore, you should have a clear understanding of who your target audience is and what they expect from social media in general.
Picturing your ideal customer is a good starting point and creating what’s called a ‘buyer persona’ can be a helpful tool. You might use some form of buyer persona for other areas of marketing, but in case you don’t…
What is a Buyer Persona?
A buyer persona is a profile of your ideal client or customer, something to have in mind when creating content in the hopes it’s what they’ll be interested in.
You can consider a range of aspects of this persona, but some key areas to think about are:
- Average income/spending power
- Social class
- Generation e.g. Millennial, Gen Z
- Problems they might be facing or want solving (also known as ‘pain points’)
Some of these may not be applicable, particularly if you’re going for a fairly basic strategy. In fact, you might not want to go too detailed as it may narrow your reach somewhat. Likewise, too broad, and your content might not be relatable to anyone.
The various analytics that many social media platforms offer can help you with this. If you already have a social media presence, use the analytics to find out the sort of people who already like and engage with your content to inform your buyer persona.
On the flip side, once you have your buyer persona, you can use the tools on some social media platforms to target people who have already demonstrated an interest in those areas. This is particularly useful for running adverts on social media - a great way to gain followers and brand awareness. One such example is Facebook and Instagram’s automated targeting - it will show your ads to people who match your specific parameters e.g. location, demographic, gender.
Knowing your audience can be really useful in informing the content you create and your voice on social media.
5) Be Social!
Speaking of audiences, why not use social media to be… social. Treat social media as a two way street.
Regularly interacting with your followers is a brilliant way to boost engagement, improve customer relations, and create brand advocates. Followers love it when businesses engage with them, be it liking and responding to comments on posts or replying to private messages. What’s more, promptly answering questions and complaints sent through social media can do wonders for your image and customer service.
Furthermore, don’t just respond to customer interaction - encourage it! Use your posts to ask questions and get your customers’ opinions on things.
Another great way to be social is by utilising groups. Plenty of social media platforms have some form of smaller groups or clubs, such as Facebook Groups or LinkedIn Groups. Use these to connect with other companies in your industry, or create an exclusive club for dedicated fans of your business and post exclusive content to it. Posting in local and geographical groups can also be a great strategy if you’re a location based business. Join and post in these groups to spread the word to potential customers in your area.
6) Be Original and Keep It Consistent
Customers and followers want to see originality.
As mentioned in our article on the benefits of social media marketing, looking at what your competitors are doing on social media is a useful part of a social media strategy, but make sure you don’t copy them, otherwise what value are you adding to your customer when they can get the same content from your competitor?
What’s more, being original makes you more memorable and you might stick in their mind next time they’re planning to purchase a product or service.
You might see companies like ‘Wendy’s’ having a very unique voice on social media, being snarky and calling out other companies (if you haven’t, you should, it’s hilarious), but for the majority of companies this isn’t the right approach, especially if you’re just starting out. You don’t want to come across as rude and ruin your image. Interestingly, according to Sprout Social, 86% of customers wanted brands to have an honest voice on social media, while 83% wanted a friendly voice.
So find your original voice, ensure it fits your brand, and keep it consistent across your channels and platforms, from your website to your social media. Although, as mentioned above, it’s important to optimise your voice depending on the platform, it’s also important to maintain a harmonious tone and ensure your company values are reflected across the board.
This can even stretch to visual aspects. If you have a colour scheme, see if you can match it across all your channels. This will help make your business instantly recognisable to customers and followers, improving their connection with it as they can interact with one consistent voice, as if your company is one person.
7) Monitor Results
So you’ve set your goals. You’ve acted on this advice. But how will you know if it’s worked? Our final piece of social media marketing advice is also a very important one: monitor your results.
Don’t just post and forget about it! See how it does and compare it with other posts. Analyse your levels of engagement to see what’s working and what’s not and alter your strategy accordingly. If your goal is to get more engagement from customers, and the posts that ask a question get more comments than those that don’t, then create posts that ask questions. If posts that go out at midday get more engagement than those posted in the evening, post at midday more.
Metrics are a valuable tool in achieving your social media marketing goals.
(Did I say ‘post’ too often?)
That’s It for Now
That’s enough social media advice for now, although you can never stop learning about the intricacies of social media marketing.
We hope these social media tips are helpful and go someway in alleviating the inevitable rages at the various algorithms one has to contend with. Now go forth and action them on your path to attaining your social media goals.