Getting to grips with the main social media sites

Hello again and welcome to the second instalment of advice for SMEs. If you missed out on my first article, you can still read up on being proactive in business.  I’ve teamed up once again with Towergate Insurance to talk about social media and the way it can aid your business almost for free! In my opinion, any business that is not actively using any of the main social media sites needs their business brains examined! Whilst we’re on the subject of social media, don’t forget to follow me (@ruthbadger) or Towergate (@towergate) on Twitter so that you don’t miss out on future articles from me plus a whole host of other tips and guides from the specialist insurer.

I will touch on three of the main social media sites in this article – Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. However, I am a massive fan of Twitter and recommend it to all the businesses I work with as well as being an avid user myself.

Getting to grips with the main social media sites

So let’s start with my favourite – Twitter. The first and most obvious advantage of Twitter is that it’s free! Crucially, it’s also great for lead generation which is the life blood of any SME. Twitter is customisable and easy to update daily with minimal time and effort. Even if your business doesn’t have something relevant to say every day, don’t forget that you can retweet other user’s posts that you think may be relevant to your customers or potential customers.

So on to Facebook. For me, Facebook has a slightly different function. Facebook is fantastic for building a community and is also a very effective advertising tool if you have some money to spend. You can link your Twitter and Facebook profiles together to make sure your messages are getting as greater reach as possible but I’ll talk some more about that later in the article.

And then there’s LinkedIn. Many of you may already have a profile on LinkedIn detailing your individual achievements. LinkedIn is great for building connections with other professionals and companies. Whilst some people may not see it as a direct lead generator I do and use it for businesses and building some invaluable relationships.

Getting the maximum value out of your social media communications

I shouldn’t need to say it but make sure you keep your updates from your social media profiles professional! If you want to tell the world about what you did on Saturday night or give your opinion on the latest political debate, save it for your personal profiles and even then be conscious that your clients may potentially still look you up as an individual.

Don’t be garish with your tweets and updates. Try not to tweet for the sake of it and ensure that everything you communicate is engaging and designed to attract the right type of attention and therefore generate leads. Timing is also a factor and it’s always a good idea to keep your updates current as certain search terms will be actively searched for by some users. Try not to blatantly sell on your social media posts – firstly because you risk being kicked off by the administrator and secondly because people use social media to be informed and sometimes even entertained and they will quickly switch off if they feel they are getting the hard sell from your business.

If you struggle to come up with useful content on a daily basis, try to share the load and involve other members of staff in brain storming content to communicate. Finally, you don’t need an English degree to use social media however, make the best effort to keep your updates grammatically correct for the sake of professionalism.

Branding your pages

Your company’s brand is part of what separates it from your competition. So you should let it shine through on your social media profiles. Make sure your pages are branded with your company colours and that your logo is in the top left corner of the page as well as a link to your website and a contact email address. Take a look at my Twitter page (@RuthBadger) to see how I do it.

Managing the time you spend updating your social media feeds

Did you know that you can link your Twitter and Facebook feeds? All you need to do is go in to settings on Twitter, find the profile section and click the button that says “Post your Tweets to Facebook”. Now your tweets will automatically appear on your Facebook profile and you’ve saved yourself some time!

As I’ve previously mentioned, don’t take all the work on yourself. Encourage others in your company to take an interest in social media and encourage them to update your profile with any relevant content they may come up with.

If you’re more tech savvy, you can even link a blog or news feed on your website to your Twitter feed and vice versa which will constantly add fresh content to your website as well as help drive traffic to your site.

Set yourself targets. For example, aim to follow ten people of interest per day (the likelihood is that they’ll follow you back if they see you’ve got relevant and interesting content) or aim to tweet 3 times per day or aim to spend 10 minutes at the beginning and end of each day finding some content to retweet.

Investing time not money in your social media activity

Remember it is as important to invest time on working on your business as it is working in your business. Building, developing and maintaining your social networking pages takes minutes not hours. You will spend more time and money working on marketing strategies than you will on improving your online presence through social networking which is a massive mistake! For each pound you spend on marketing match it with 10 minutes of good social networking and it will soon exceed your expectations.

See you next time

Thank you for reading and I hope this article has been helpful. Remember, social media is an easy way to get exposure for your business. Done in the correct way, it can be a lead generator and can help develop key business relationships and all for next to nothing! Come back next month for more helpful tips for you and your SME.