This time 10 years ago, if you mentioned the phrase ‘social media’ at a business meeting, people would have looked at you as if you had two heads. It’s a term that some businesses have embraced, but that sends the fear of God into others.
While social media was initially poo-pooed as just a means of finding out what someone had for breakfast, it has become a key tool in engaging with your customers, sourcing new leads and even taking bookings. Perhaps its main benefit is that it serves as an interface between your business and the general public.
If you’ve never used social media before, here are a quick guide to four of the platforms that could help your business.
First launched in 2004, Facebook is a free social networking tool that can be used very effectively for business. Here, you can set up your own page (useful if you don’t have a website) where you can showcase your products and/or services. Members of Facebook can ‘like’ and ‘follow’ your page so that whenever you post something to your page (this could be some examples of your work perhaps, or maybe details of a special offer), your followers will see this on their news feed. You can post pictures, videos, or just plain old text but there are some businesses who rely entirely on Facebook for their custom. Facebook is free but you can pay for adverts that will pop up on other people’s news feeds.
Another free social media platform and also one of the giants. It took us a good few years to get our heads around Twitter but its potential is huge. Again, you have people following you, and seeing whenever you post anything. Unlike Facebook, Twitter’s posts are only limited to 280 characters. The beauty of Twitter is that you can search for people and topics using the hashtag (#) sign. If you’re looking for someone posting about plumbing, simply search using #plumbing and Twitter will throw up a list of so-called ‘tweets’ (a tweet is something that someone has posted). People can also retweet anything you post to their list of followers so if they’ve got a lot of followers, your reach can be quite substantial.
LinkedIn could be described as Facebook for Grown-Ups. This is social media for professionals, a place where the world of business gets together. On a personal level, LinkedIn can be used to seek out employment because you can upload your CV but it’s also an excellent place to develop your B2B relations too. Writing a great profile can catch the eye of other users but you can also showcase testimonials, examples of past work and your latest news.
Instagram is similar to the two above but its focus is more on photos and videos. If you’re running a business that sells products, this is a great way of showcasing your stock.
YouTube is an online video-sharing website. After Google, it is the second most popular place for people to search for stuff. If you’ve got the know-how, why not create your own YouTube Channel, offering videos of your products or services? Using video in such a great way really helps you connect with both existing and new customers.
Where do I start?
Social media is not something to be feared, but to be embraced. It can help increase your reach, drive new business and also even create new revenue streams.
Take a look at the social media platforms listed above and give them a test drive. In reality, you’ll probably want to run your social media on several platforms to find different audiences.