Nearly 90% of people in this country use the internet, and of these nearly 50% use social media. In part one of this two-part article we look at the key things you need to know about promoting your business through social media using Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

What are the key things I need to be aware of?

There’s a plethora of social media platforms, each with its own set of ‘dos and don’ts’. In the sections below we provide tips about several of the major platforms, but here’s some overarching guidance:

  • Be active: it’s pointless joining social media platforms and then not participating – in fact, not responding to questions and comments will be counterproductive
  • Don’t overstretch yourself: unless you can afford to have someone managing your social media activities, avoid joining too many platforms or you could find yourself run-ragged
  • Make sure a platform’s a good fit for your business: before signing-up go on as an individual and spend a few weeks getting a feel for its culture and conventions – is the site a natural environment for your type of business, or will it be a fish out of water?
  • Check out the competition: what platforms are they on?
  • Try to get users to do most of the work: once you’ve settled in to a platform, look for ways to seed it with content and encourage customers to make a lot of the running, e.g. by providing feedback, posts, content, etc.

Acknowledgements: the stats in this article are courtesy of: E-CommerceManager, E-Consultancy, ​eMarketer, PewResearchCentre, Pingdom, The Last Hurdle™, Social Media London, We Are SocialYouTube.

How can I use Twitter to promote my business?

Twitter has over 15 million users in the UK, mostly under the age of 34, equally split between males and females. Twitter is a fast moving stream of short, punchy messages that 80% of its users access on their smartphones. Twitter’s about what’s happening in-the-moment, so if this reflects your business, and you can squeeze in several visits a day, Twitter could be a good fit.

How it works - Twitter is a platform for sending tweets (short messages, videos, pictures and links) to a network of contacts, and/or to the public. Primarily designed for use on mobiles, there’s a limit of 140 characters, but if a message is longer, the full version will appear on a web page. You don’t always have to create original messages – you can share other people’s postings – a process known as retweeting.

Philosophy -Don’t let the fast and furious nature of Twitter fool you into thinking it’s a good place to make quick sales – in fact, it’s much more of a slow-burn. Share meaningful information so you can build both your credibility and a following. If you’re open and helpful, you’ll gain the trust of other users and they may be willing to occasionally click on a link to your website.

Daily tweets -Twitter is ideal if you need to post lots of updates. For example, a restaurant could tweet it’s dish of the day. A sports clothing and equipment business could tweet, or retweet, messages about breaking sports news stories. As long they’re genuinely interesting, the more tweets you send, the more your profile will be raised.

Connections - To use Twitter to market your business, you need to make connections – to follow people and to have people follow you.  Don’t get hung up on numbers – it’s better to have a smaller number of relevant followers than lots of irrelevant ones. To build your network you can import your existing contacts, search for people who tweet about relevant subjects, and accept the suitable recommendations Twitter makes.

Contests and offers - Lots of people who use Twitter are partial to contests and offers. A good way of building a following is to run some Twitter-only competitions and promotions. These are the sort of things that jump out to users who are checking out Twitter during their morning commute.

To create a Twitter account, go to www.twitter.com

How can I use Facebook to promote my business?

Facebook is easily the most popular social media platform. In the UK 60% of people have an account, equally split between males and females. Two and half million 13-17 year olds use the platform and about a quarter of its users are aged 25-34.  Nearly half of its users log onto it each day, and the average visit is 18 minutes. Facebook is a great all-round platform for generating brand awareness. 

To create a Facebook account, go to https://www.facebook.com/

Engaging with your followers

It’s free and easy to create a Facebook page for your business and the platform provides numerous case studies for inspiration. Make sure you engage with your followers – reply to questions, comments, and any complaints you get.

Keeping in touch

Ensure that the tone of your content strikes the right note with your target customers. 

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Keeping in touch

Facebook’s primarily a platform for individuals to keep in-touch with one another about what’s happening in their lives, so it has a pretty informal atmosphere – if your content is too straight-laced it might seem out of kilter. But on other hand don’t make it too jokey or you might come across as flippant and unprofessional.

Produce the type of content that typically goes down well on Facebook. For example, images account for three quarters of the content posted by brands. Incentivise people to follow you, for example by running competitions, and providing special offers that are exclusive to Facebook.

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Promoting your business: You can use your Facebook business page to showcase your products and services.

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Promoting your business

A good way to increase engagement is to ask your customers to share photos showing how they use products they’ve bought from you, or the results of the services you’ve provided. E.g if someone’s had a customised paint job on their car they can show this off, much to the benefit of the business that did the work.

You can create adverts in Facebook that are tightly targeted according to factors such as age, gender, location, interests online behaviour, etc. Budgets can be set according to a daily limit (so you can constantly monitor results) or for a total campaign.

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How can I use Google+ to promote my business?

Google+ has more male than female users. In the UK approximately 40% of its users are aged 18-24, and about 30% are aged 25-34. On average users spend about 7 minutes per month on Google+. It has good content sharing facilities and even has a video conferencing facility.

Integrated toolset - If you’re already a fan of Google web tools such as Gmail, Google Drive, Google Docs, etc, you may find Google+ to be natural addition to the tool box – a social media platform that’s integrated with the rest of Google’s offering.

Post and share - Like other social media sites, Google+ enables you to create pages – in this case for individuals, businesses and products. You can post content to these in the form of text, images, videos, links to your website, etc, which you can share with other users.

Circles - A key aspect of Google+ is its circles. Unlike other social media platforms where you ‘follow’ or ‘friend’ people, on Google+ you put your contacts into circles. So for example, you could have circles for different types of customers. You can use Google+ circles to decide who sees what you’re posting – you can make it public or target it to specific circles, which can be useful for reaching niche audiences.

Search results - Posts on Google+ are reputed to often rank higher in Google searches than posts on other social media platforms, presumably because Google likes to ‘keep things in the family’!

Hangouts - Hangouts are the way of having can have group conversations on Goggle+. These conversations can be in the form of video, audio, or all three. Hangouts can be useful for things like running focus groups with customers about ideas for new products or services, and presenting new or updated products and services to different groups (circles) of customers.

To create find out more about Google+ go to their small business page here.

How can I use LinkedIn to promote my business?

LinkedIn doesn’t have the fun feel of many other platforms, but it is after all a professional social network. It has about 380 million users worldwide and gets 60 million views a month in the UK. Users tend to be over 35 and represent just about every business type. Unlike many other platforms, most people on LinkedIn are not highly active users – less than half check their account daily.

To create a LinkedIn account, go to www.linkedin.com

Profiles and networking

LinkedIn doesn't lend itself to direct sales. Instead, it’s an environment where professionals can share thoughts, nurture business-to-business (B2B) relationships, and help each other achieve their goals. The relationships that are built through these activities may help to pave the way to sales in the future.

Creating a profile: if you join, start by creating a LinkedIn personal profile, which is much like a CV. You can add links to your website, include portfolios, presentations, videos, and examples of your work.

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Creating a profile

You can also create a company page, on which you can have your business details and logo, and feature relevant LinkedIn groups. Both profiles can be linked.

LinkedIn allows you to list multiple aspects of your skills & expertise, which other members can endorse. Ask your customers and associates to endorse you and provide recommendations.

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Networking: to start networking you can search for other members you already know and import your existing contacts. You can also look through your contacts’ connections and make these a starting point for adding new contacts.

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Networking

Depending on your existing connections and how you use the site, LinkedIn will recommend new contacts.

LinkedIn has groups that can offer opportunities for networking. Identify groups that may be popular with your types of customers and try to become a member. Aim to impress people with your responses to questions related to your area of expertise – this may make you the natural person to come to if a member has the need to engage the services of a business like yours, or knows someone else who does.

You can write articles and share them using LinkedIn’s Pulse facility. This was originally created as a platform for well-known thought leaders, such as Sir Richard Branson, to share their insights. You can also cross-promote your Pulse posts on other social networking sites.

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Next Steps

How to promote your business using social media - part 2

Guess what? Your social media marketing solutions don't stop there. In this second part, we look at Pinterest, Instagram, and Youtube. 

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How do I market my business online?

The internet has revolutionised marketing for most businesses. Here’s how to market your business online.

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