Is your business making the most of social media?

Social media can be an extremely useful tool for small businesses that are looking for ways to strengthen their brand profile and engage with existing or potential customers.

It is free to use (unless you want to invest in paid advertising) and, with billions of people using platforms like Twitter and Facebook every day, offers enormous potential to get your message across to a broad audience.

However, it has been argued that many businesses are not making the best possible use of this powerful resource. So what could your firm be doing to get the most out of social media?

The importance of getting social media right
In an article for Forbes magazine, LaKesha Womack, business and marketing consultant at Womack Consulting Group, pointed out that social media gives business of all sizes the opportunity to “create major marketing campaigns on shoestring budgets”.

However, she also warned that firms taking the wrong approach to this side of their business run the risk of “killing their brand with poor marketing materials and no marketing strategy”.

A potential customer who comes across poorly devised marketing messages, images or content on your social media profiles is likely to take a dim view of your brand, reducing your chances of winning new business.

Of course, it’s not only on the marketing front that social media is proving important for businesses.

It’s becoming increasingly common for employers to use popular online platforms in their recruitment efforts. In a survey of HR decision makers by recruitment software firm SocialReferral, just under half (49 per cent) of respondents said they used social media to advertise vacancies.

Three-quarters (75 per cent) recognised the need for change in traditional approaches to recruitment.

Guido Nieuwkamp, director at SocialReferral, said: “Businesses with a willingness to move on from the more traditional recruitment methods make their biggest investment – their staff – their biggest brand asset.

“A genuine employee-driven social media presence is one of the biggest assets a brand can have. By enabling social media usage, you will encourage massive amplification of your brand message, resulting in a better reputation for the business itself, wider talent pools and, inevitably, more customers.”

What strategies can businesses use?
There are several principles every business should remember to make its social media campaigns and promotions as successful as possible. Here are some examples:

Invest in the visuals – Social media is largely a visual medium, so it’s crucial to make sure that the imagery featured on your various profiles and pages is of a certain quality. Well-chosen, stylish and consistent visual elements make a big contribution to your brand as a whole.

Make regular updates – In today’s hectic and competitive social media environment, you must keep your pages fresh and up-to-date to stay relevant. Simple posts such as links to interesting articles and questions to your audience can help to keep people engaged with you online.

Keep in contact – Social media platforms can be an extremely effective way of keeping in touch with existing or potential customers, so make sure you take every opportunity to maintain contact. If someone asks you a question via Twitter, for example, ensure they get a prompt and relevant response.

Social media is a powerful resource that all businesses – particularly smaller firms – should be taking advantage of.


Posted by Frances Singer

Image courtesy of iStock/ipopba

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