Introduction to social media
Author Natalie Weaving
Tues 23rd April 2018
An introduction to social media – what businesses need to consider before they start!
Any startup business in today’s digital world knows that they need to be on social media to grow their brand and attract potential customers. In this blog, we offer an introduction to social media in the hope that we can answer some of your most burning questions about how to get started on social media.
WHERE DO I START?
Often, the first introduction to social media a business owner may have is through their own personal use of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or one of the many other platforms out there. So, seeing social media as a business tool can be daunting. We’re not born to blow our own trumpet .. well, us millennials who hate being called millennials weren’t anyway! So, the idea that we would post updates about our business, what we are achieving or have been up to can seem an alien concept. However, people – like your potential customers and competitors – are naturally nosey. They want to get to know all about the brand that they are emotionally or financially investing in. Social media is the way to do this on a simple, straightforward and human level. In addition, social media marketing is becoming commonplace, so your target audiences, particularly younger generations, will simply expect it.
The best place to start is to have a clear idea of how you want to come across to your audiences and check what resources you have at your disposal. This will vary for everyone depending on their time, budget and business plan development. However, as a minimum, you will need:
- Clear corporate brand guidelines.
- Images which uniquely represent your business.
- An objective for your social media based on your business goals.
- An indication of how much time you can dedicate to it which will inform your own minimum posting guidelines.
- A marketing plan with all marketing activities plotted. This should include blogs, PR, events, national days related to your business which will help you to focus in on a content plan for your activities.
WHICH SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS ARE BEST FOR ME?
The million dollar question. If your business has been running for a few months and it has a website, we recommend looking at your website statistics to see if you already get referrals from social media.
This could answer your question quickly as you can focus your activity where you are already organically experiencing interaction with engaged audiences.
Failing that, where are your competitors? Are they getting decent engagement? Is there a trend of where companies in your industry tend to go? For example, those in the wedding industry perform well on Pinterest. If your business is facilities management, it’s time to hone your LinkedIn skills.
Here is a rough guide to what type of industries perform best across different social media platforms. This is not all encompassing but will give you an idea:
Visual industries or those which can provide useful video content. If you can, start and manage a Facebook group. However, with the new algorithms, cut through is going to be tricky.
Industries that thrive on Facebook: Wedding, Fitness, Retail, Property, Education, Beauty & Fashion
B2C businesses do well here. The conversion rates are insane
Industries that thrive on Pinterest: Wedding, Photography, Tattoo, Retail, Food & Drink, Beauty & Fashion
This is my personal favourite. It’s great for all businesses as long as you are willing to spend time engaging with people.
Industries that thrive on Twitter: Business, Wedding, Retail, Education, Recruitment, Creative, IT
B2B works well here as you can find the people you need to connect with without the cold call. Storytelling is taking off on this platform. Build a clean, clear and professional company page, share content there then out through your personal profile.
Industries that thrive on LinkedIn: Business, Creatives, Recruitment, IT
This is great for anyone who has the visual content needed to grow their presence here. People have become less forgiving with poor photos, which is now best saved for Instagram stories, which are temporary additions to a profile.
Industries that thrive on Instagram: Creatives, Wedding, Photography, Retail, Fashion & Beauty, Fitness, Food
HOW QUICKLY CAN I GROW A FOLLOWING?
Your introduction to social media marketing should not be based on how quickly you can get fans or followers. Nor should it be based on when you start making sales. It should be about attracting and engaging with the right people to be seen by who can then develop into customers or even brand advocates. Gone are the days where you will amass thousands of followers – that ship has sailed. But, if this didn’t translate to sales or ROI, there’s not much point in just having impressive-sounding statistics anyway.
Aim to make connections with people who are going to support your business. They could help you promote to your business by engaging with you or by becoming your customer. Vanity metrics tracking will not get you very far in the offline world.
HOW LONG SHOULD I SPEND ON SOCIAL MEDIA?
It is easy to get lost on social media and burn out quickly because getting results does not come overnight. Our recommendation is to set minimum activities based on the time you can afford to spend on it. It is true that the more time you can spend on social media, the quicker you will get results. But, only if you have a clear plan of action and the assets to do it well.
Consistency is always vital to gaining a loyal following. So, if you can only spend 15 minutes a day on Twitter, make sure those 15 minutes are well spent.
Some minimum guidelines could be: Twitter: 21 actions per week – actions are tweets, retweets, quotes and replies. Facebook: two posts per week – these are then shared with relevant groups. Plus, some time to respond to comments and be part of groups by helping others. Pinterest: 30 minutes twice a week – uploading new pins, pinning and commenting on others pins. Instagram: two posts per week – one photo, one video, one graphic. Plus, some time to engage with the people you follow and new people who you are targeting. LinkedIn: two updates per week – one post, one article. Plus, commenting on others posts, sharing content and reading other articles.
WHAT CAN I REALISTICALLY EXPECT FROM SOCIAL MEDIA FOR MY BUSINESS?
Businesses can still be sceptical of social media because they have not set any goals for it and are not measuring it. If there is nothing to aim for, there is nothing to measure. With that said, it can take six months to a year of using a social media platform to gather decent data and learn what works and what doesn’t. You will end up tweaking those goals along the way anyway as you learn how social media will successfully support your business goals.
SHOULD I INVEST IN SOME SOCIAL MEDIA TRAINING?
Training is always a good investment. If you are looking for an introduction to social media course that covers a bit of everything, they are ten a penny. Where you are going to make a difference is sitting with a professional and working out what you can and need to do. Check out local social media marketers, contact the ones who are doing their social media the way you want to and ask if they can sit with you for a couple of hours to get you going.
To get the most out of your time with them, send them a list of questions or objectives from your session so that you leave with the information you wanted, plus more!
These are just some of the considerations before business takes up social media marketing. This is based on the questions and challenges that we come across when talking to companies who are not getting the results they hoped or are overwhelmed with where to start.
Found this introduction to social media blog useful? Why not take a look at our social media blog archive to help boost your knowledge.
Click to read more about why asking your friends and family to share your content is not a sensible marketing strategy on our blog.
In this blog, we concentrate on the realities of running social media for your business and what your business can expect from social media. Click to read.
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