THE BRITISH LIBRARY

Innovation and enterprise blog

31 July 2015

Social Media for Small Businesses: Finding Your Feet

Social media is very powerful in this digital age – in a single minute, around 3.3 million pieces of new content are uploaded to Facebook, 347,000 tweets are posted on Twitter, and 38,000 people upload pictures to their Instagram feed. Each social media platform has its own individual character and way of engaging with audiences and unlocking this is the key to a successful social strategy.  However, it can be a bit daunting for beginners, so here are a few tips to help you find your feet.

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Decide on the right social platforms for you

Begin with a maximum of three social channels to increase your chances of successful engagement with your audience, and be sure that they suit your business objectives. For example, LinkedIn is largely a corporate channel, so it might not be a priority if you’re trying to reach the end-consumer, and Instagram is more likely to be used by the under 35s.

Don’t bombard your audience

Customers do not want to feel spammed, so be mindful that it’s not necessary to post multiple times a day if you have nothing interesting to say. Relevant, engaging content is what you should be aiming for and it’s easy to achieve this if you simply put yourself in the mind-set of your customer.

Visuals are key

Images are processed 6,000 times faster than text by the human brain, so your followers will be more engaged with your content if an image is part of the post. According to Twitter, an image will make your tweet five times more shareable, so a bank of relevant imagery is helpful for a successful social media strategy.

Keep an eye on your channels

On average, customers expect a response to their queries or comments within an hour, and research suggests that a solution should be reached within six hours to maintain customer satisfaction. For SMEs this is so important, as word of mouth is a key part of growing your customer base. It’s essential to keep your customers engaged until a solution is reached. Facebook in particular is helping this support process with its recently launched ‘Saved Replies’ feature, which allows admins to quickly respond to customer enquiries with pre-written responses, such as directing them to the Help Desk – a quick way to maintain customer satisfaction if you’re pressed for time.

Don’t be too ambitious too soon

Immediate results are unlikely for a smaller business engaging in social media, but if you are smart in your approach then tangible benefits will be realised before too long. The ultimate goal should be engagement with your audience, so measuring inbound as well as outbound social media activity is important. Winning advocacy of your products or services is of course your ultimate goal.

 

John Morris is COO of UK2 Group a global group of web hosting brands providing web hosting and internet services to savvy surfers, small businesses and blue chip giants alike. They are also a corporate partner of the Business & IP Centre. For more help with social media for your small business attend an introductory workshop in the Centre. 

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