The small business market has never been more competitive. Margins are tight and if you don’t move fast enough, your competitor – who could be two doors or two continents away – is going to eat you for lunch. Businesses needs to be as agile as possible, and social media can help you achieve this.
However, a report by ICM on behalf Canon has revealed that only 35% of UK SMBs believe they’re making the most of social media and the internet, compared with an average of 47% across European markets.
With that in mind, here are five ways how businesses can improve their social media presence and reap the rewards.
>See also: How businesses can get social media right
1. LinkedIn groups for new business
LinkedIn groups are a great way to establish a business as a thought leader in its industry and generate new leads. They capture an engaged audience who are specifically looking for information about an industry, therefore any discussions the business contributes to will help publicise its brand.
According to LinkedIn, people who contribute to discussions receive up to four times the average number of profile views – so the more you share, the more you’ll get noticed.
There is, however, one important rule when it comes to contributions – they should add value and insight to ensure the business builds genuine trust from members. It is possible to post promotional content but such posts should be infrequent and secondary to those that engage in a thought-leadership discussion.
2. Organic growth with paid advertisements
Facebook is a good platform to build brand awareness, so businesses should consider paid content on Facebook to grow their following, of which there are two options: boosted posts and ad creation.
Boosted posts broaden the reach that content will have, while ad creation is a tool from Facebook that enables businesses to create an advertisement. Both options will reach a certain amount of people, depending on how much is spent, which can start from £1.
Budget to spend on advertising for small businesses is often hard to come by so they should carefully consider before they commit to it, making sure that activity ties in with their overall social media strategy.
3. Twitter chats
One of the best ways to harness an audience on Twitter is to host a Twitter chat with a scheduled hashtag discussion. Like Linkedin groups, this is a great way to position a business as a thought leader.
Small business owners should also search for other Twitter chats to join, retweeting interesting tweets and providing opinions to attract followers. The more they engage the more followers they will attract, which is useful for lead generation.
4. Competitor analysis and monitoring
It can be frustrating to see competitors having greater success on social media – however, the good news is that everything they do is transparent. Monitoring their social media channels will allow a business to learn about what works and what doesn’t, and where its brand sits in the field.
Twitter lists are a great place to start as they give an instant view of what competing brands and companies are tweeting. You can select members as part of a private list, saving the chore of having to visit each of their pages.
Following other brands on Facebook and joining Linkedin groups made by competitors are also great ways to gain insight into their communications strategy, and will help businesses understand the tone their audience responds to and what content to avoid.
There are also a variety of tools useful for social media monitoring which allow businesses to see the number of social shares on a particular tweet or post. Stories and articles that are shared more often on social media will be ranked higher on Google searches. Knowing this is useful for understanding the kind of content a business should be sharing through its own social channels.
5. Adaptable content across platforms
It’s wrong to assume that people spend an equal amount of time on each social platform, so catching them on the ones they do use, and at the right time, is important. This can be done by adapting content, which is useful for small businesses that lack dedicated teams who can customise messaging across different social platforms.
While businesses shouldn’t duplicate content word for word, as each platform has its own editorial style, they can adapt what they post on one platform for another. They should consider how the audience for each platform will read the content to ensure they deliver it in an engaging way.
For example, Twitter only allows 140 characters, so posts should be short and snappy, while on Linkedin you can post entire blogs or paragraphs providing more detail.
Sourced from Mark Robinson, Canon UK