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Discover Guide Social Media

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Discover Guide Social Media

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Discover Guide Social Media

  1. 1. The small business guide to social media How to choose the right channels Finding followers and engaging your audience Your social media questions answered
  2. 2. Spreading the word with social media The rise of social media has been so rapid that it’s easy to feel left behind. And it’s not just a personal scene anymore - many businesses are using sites such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook to attract followers and fans. If you run your own business, social media offers you the chance to spread the word about what you do. It enables you to build a reputation, forge new relationships and bring in new business. But if you haven’t taken the plunge yet, you’re not alone. According to research by specialist SME insurer Hiscox (2012), only 57% of small businesses currently use social media to support their marketing efforts. Just listen at first and then gradually start responding and striking up conversations. And research by The Neilsen Company has found that 53% of adults who engage in social networks are active followers of a brand. “It’s never too late to start. You definitely haven’t missed the boat,” says Alex Truby, consultant at social media consultancy Fresh Networks. “There are exciting opportunities for most businesses on social media.” businesses 57% of smallsupport use social media to their marketing efforts
  3. 3. Getting started It’s often said that social media sites are like cocktail parties. You wouldn’t just turn up and start talking at people, says Alex. “You have to absorb the atmosphere. Just listen at first and then gradually start responding and striking up conversations.” On social media, just like in real life, there’s some etiquette that you’ll need to learn. “Each platform has its own nuances,” says Alex. “But it’s important to be yourself — don’t try and be something you’re not, it will backfire in the long run.”
  4. 4. Choosing your channels “A good starting point is to write your own blog,” says Alex. “Think about a topic that you know well that’s related to your business that you can write regularly about. If you host it on your website and your blog posts are well read and shared, it will drive more people to visit your site.” And once you get started on other sites, you can add links to your blog and direct traffic back to your own website. Which social media sites should you choose? According to Hiscox, 19% of small firms use Facebook, 14% are on LinkedIn, 4% use Twitter and 15% rely on other social media such as blogs. Every site has its own merits. Facebook allows businesses to engage with a fan base of local consumers. For instance, if you own a café or a shop, sell products online or run exercise classes in your area, you could do really well on Facebook. LinkedIn, meanwhile, is great for business-tobusiness firms and consultants that want to connect with clients and partners in their sector. It can help you build contacts and talk to people with shared interests. And Twitter, which has rapidly taken off, allows anyone to post short messages of 140 characters that will be seen by their network of followers. For businesses, Twitter is all about showing the people behind the brands. It’s not necessary - or even advisable - to be on all the sites. “If you spread yourself too thin, you won’t be effective,” says Alex. “The main thing is to find where your audiences are and be active there.” Which social media sites do SMEs use most for business? Twitter 4% 14% Linkedin Facebook 19% 15% other social media
  5. 5. Mixing the personal with business Getting the balance right can be tricky. The point of social media is that it is friendly and personal, even for business users. But just how far should you combine personal with business on social media? It’s probably not a good idea to have a Facebook presence that combines your private social life (complete with photos) with your business. The best way to reach out is by sharing content — it could be a blog post you have written or something you’ve read that you think would appeal to your followers. However, Twitter is a different story. Some people follow businesses on Twitter precisely because they want to get to know the real people behind the brand. And many entrepreneurs are living and breathing their own brand 24/7. It’s a judgment call that only you can make. But if you opt for a single combined Twitter account, remember to make sure that every tweet fits with the reputation of your brand — even if you are only tweeting about what you did at the weekend.
  6. 6. Finding your followers All the social media sites offer a variety of ways to find people you know — or want to get to know. You can search for names or use your email contact list to find out who is on which site and then reach out to them. There are also groups you can join on sites like LinkedIn that will help you find your target audience. On Facebook, you can search for fan pages relevant to your sector. The beauty of social media is that each contact often leads to another, so that you can attract more followers, fans or business connections every day. Where is your audience? Linkedin Facebook Twitter Linkedin 33% 49% 46% Twitter 25% 32% 22% 43% 57% 23% 15% 18% 50% 50% 19% 4% 14% 41% 59% Facebook 0-24 yrs 25-34 yrs 35-44 yrs 45+ yrs
  7. 7. Reaching out to your customers If your customers are very active on social media sites you may find that they use them to contact you with queries and complaints. In this case, it’s vital to check in regularly and make sure you deal with any problems promptly. The best way to reach out is by sharing content — it could be a blog post you have written or something you’ve read that you think would appeal to your followers. If you are on Twitter, it’s worth retweeting posts that you think your audience would enjoy. And finally, think about your tone of voice — a site like LinkedIn is more serious than Facebook, for example. And while none of the social media sites require over-formality, it pays to be polite — always thanks people for kind words, mentions, feedback and recommendations. Why do small businesses use social media? 27% to increase brand awareness 11% to improve their customer service 15% to boost sales
  8. 8. Your social media questions answered Who? When? • You can build relationships with customers, potential customers, people your customers know, journalists, movers and shakers in your sector, partners and suppliers. • Little and often is the key. • If you’ve established a good rapport with a key contact, you can suggest direct contact by phone, email or face-to-face. How? Why? • Don’t sell — be helpful, it’s much more effective. • It helps you demonstrate your expertise in a nonsalesy way. • Say thanks when people respond. • It’s interactive without being intrusive. • It’s good for growing your audience, and helping your firm to improve its search results. What? • Share content, pass on tips and respond to enquiries. • Deal with any negative comments promptly. • Ask questions. • Do post regularly but don’t let it take up more time than you can afford. • Don’t just broadcast messages — listen, respond, interact. • Make sure your profile is fresh and relevant, use good quality images and include links back to your website. 81% of small businesses see the value of using social media as a business tool. to find out more go to: sage.co.uk/discover

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