Speaking in terms of Web 2.0, social media can be any website that provides both interactivity and information. This interaction can range from simple – likes, votes and comments – to complex – e.g. Flixster suggesting movies based on their ratings from people with similar interests as yours.
Regular media can be thought of as a one way street where you listen to the news on television, or peruse a newspaper, but you don’t have much ability to express your opinions regarding what you view, listen or read.
On the other hand, social media can be thought of as a two-way street which enables you to comment / express your views on the information provided to you.
- 1 What is social media?
- 2 Why does my business need social media?
- 3 What are the main social media platforms?
- 4 Don’t forget YouTube!
- 5 What are some best practices for social media management?
It isn’t difficult to mix social media and social news because news outlets are often referred to as ‘the media’. This confusion is compounded by the fact that a social news website comes under the umbrella of social media – which is a broader categorisation.
However, the converse isn’t true. You can’t define social media in totality as social news just as you can’t call all fruits banana. A banana is obviously a certain type of fruit, but there are also other fruits out there such as lemons and apples. Similarly, there is more to social media then social news:
Having provided the basic definition of social media, it is now possible to proceed to the various types of social media sites prevalent today. Since social media is an all-encompassing term, a vast range of sites come under it. The common factor between all these sites is their ability to allow interactions between their content and the visitors.
Social networks, social news websites, bookmarking websites, media sharing sites, micro-blogging sites and blog comments and forum sites are just some of the different types of social media available to internet users today.
Basically, any site which lets you interact with it and other site users comes under the broad category of social media.
We are all aware of how the world is entering a social state; the business world needs to embrace this transition. The days of consumer reliance on conventional media such as TV and radio are long past, with the modern consumer relying on the internet to find the commodities they need.
This means that if you give people the ability to express their opinions about your business via social media, it will both spread your name among consumers, and pinpoint the aspects of your business that need to be modified.
There are a number of advantages of social media for a small business since it lets you increase brand exposure and awareness, forge new contacts, create new relationships while strengthening existing ones by allowing effective interaction with you intended target market, develop or augment an existing site, promote both old and new products/services, address queries and deal with doubts, and monitor your company’s rep.
Social media for business can be quite enjoyable to engage in; there has been a vital change in our mode of communication and going with the tide will be your first step in the direction of success!
Here are the most effective and popular social media channels for a small business:
By and large the biggest social media platform out there, with an approximated 1.11 billion users each month, 665 million users active each day, and up to 645 million small business page views each week, Facebook has proved that it is a social media site that is here for good.
It can be regarded as the social nexus for your business on the web. It is a place where users can look through your business’s products and pictures, chat with you online or leave you messages. With this many targeted potential clients, it is a must to create a page on Facebook, but keep in mind that it needs to be updated with both interesting, relevant information and promotional stuff.
Be aware of the fact that this social media site requires a good deal of manual as well as financial resources (advertising), and if you can pull it off properly, you will definitely see the benefits to your business. Click here for our guide on how to set up Facebook for your business.
This social media site is filled with people who want to say different things, and who may also listen to you! It has roughly 215 million active users and isn’t meant as much for family and friends as it is for people whom you want to genuinely communicate with.
You might think of the tweet character count limit (140 characters) as constrictive, but its correct use can lead to rewards for your business. It has proved its worth recently as a platform for sharing the latest news. The hashtag feature can be utilized to stay updated with and be a part of the latest news worthy happenings and trends.
Twitter is also an excellent way of forging connections with your customers. You will be able to hear a dissatisfied customer through Twitter, and this will let you provide better customer support. If you are successful in attaining a certain degree of popularity through your twitter account, you will witness firsthand how viral twitter posts can become. Click here for our guide on how to set up Twitter for your business.
Having 359 million active users each month, it is far from being a ghost town that modern pop culture would have you believe. Most people see it as an amalgamation of Facebook and Twitter, but it has novel features that make it a marketer’s paradise.
The hashtags, +1s and Hangouts, if correctly utilized, can lead to some serious page popularity. Similar to Facebook and Twitter, your page will have to be updated; you will also have to interact with both your customers and the pages of other businesses.
If you have a G+ page for your business and your business is searched for (regardless of whether the searcher is following you or not), your G+ page and the most recent posts made on it will appear on the right of the searcher’s personal search results. This ranking in searches is what makes G+ an essential social media side, worthy of consideration for your small business.
This is a somewhat tricky social media site that should only be employed if you have excellent images of your business that you want to share with your target audience. You can obtain the benefits of presenting your products/services to roughly 70 million Pinterest users, with awesome backlinks to your business website.
A distinct advantage is enjoyed by businesses producing high quality visual content on Pinterest. The site’s highly visual implementation, high quality images have a better chance of going ‘viral’ i.e. shared, and then shared again and again and so on – to many thousands of people present on the site. An image that has been pinned by a Pinterest member with many followers can possibly attain millions of views.
If you have a business that produces lots of images e.g. a photography studio, e-commerce site or retail shop, then it makes sense for you to come on Pinterest. However, if your business doesn’t produce or sell aesthetically appealing items, you will have to employ how-to checklists and step-by-step guides combined with catchy images to gather attention. After someone pins your image, the web address linked to the pin can be used to attract fresh customers.
Keep in mind that Pinterest is used mostly by women (80 percent) who lie in the 25-45 age group, so use it only when they are a considerable part of your target audience.
This is the largest social networking site for business focused individuals / professionals, but the majority of small business owners are yet to recognize its potential. Owners of businesses have begun to realise it’s worth and the opportunities it provides for forging relationships and generating sales leads.
There are more than 230 million users on this website and 2.7 million business pages are already present on it. Keep in mind that LinkedIn has a more serious nature in contrast to Twitter and Facebook.
Take it seriously and recognise the fact that its users will demand serious, informative and professional details about your business. A very potent feature of LinkedIn is ‘LinkedIn Groups’ that provides professionals of the same industry / shared interests with a place to start and engage in discussions.
Sharing content, finding answers, posting / viewing jobs, forging business contacts, and establishing yourself as industry experts is all possible on this website.
Groups may have hundreds, or even thousands, of members, so there is considerable exposure possible for companies.
Don’t forget YouTube!
It can be used for forging connections and establishing yourself as an industry authority, and this should be its primary function for a small business, rather than gaining a viral number of views (for a small business, it could mean a serious flaw which went viral for instance!).
There are plenty of ways to build networks and connections on YouTube such as posting interesting, quality video content regularly, making friends in the field, gathering favorites and subscribers and responding to comments.
What are the pros and cons of using social media for my business?
Knowledge of the pros and cons of social media can aid you in utilising it in the most effective manner for your business:
- Customer engagement: Reap the benefits of interactive and dynamic communication with your customers.
- Search engine visibility: Enhance your business’s ranking in search engine results.
- Market research: Accrue feedback from your intended customers without having to pay high research fees.
- Sales: Utilise social media strategies to boost sales.
- Connect with fresh audiences: Social networking will aid you in reaching new market segments which were inaccessible using conventional marketing.
- Security: Sensitive data such as your business’s structure and plans for the future could be in jeopardy if you are careless with what you share.
- Privacy: Computer hackers may seize information regarding your business or your customers.
- Measuring success: It can be difficult to quantify the success of your social media campaign.
- Monetisation: It can be tough to make your social media campaign start generating profit.
- Bad reviews and complaints: If you don’t have a plan for dealing with dissatisfied customers, you may suffer from negative publicity.
- Time commitment: In order to achieve success, you must commit time to maintain fresh content and address your customers regularly.
Here are the top ten tips for implementing an effective social media strategy:
- Have a plan: Discover where your prospective customers are engaging in conversations and where your business can have value. Google Alerts can be put to good use to this end.
- Don’t be concerned with perfect: Begin by learning and listening to others. Humbleness isn’t a new concept to social media and it isn’t a bad thing to appear as a newcomer. You can always edit you strategy if the results you want aren’t retrieved after a set period of time.
- Focus on a single tool at one time: It is better to be good at using a single social media tool rather than using five in an inefficient manner. Go for the tool where you have the largest number of your targeted clientele.
- Appear consistently: If you are able to spend just an hour each week, show up periodically for that one hour. This is a much sounder marketing plan than spending three hours one day and just fifteen minutes for the entire next week.
- Be vocal online: This will reflect your business and will be preferred by the majority of your customers, who prefer a human voice online these days.
- Specify a time limit: Each marketing activity requires a set time limit. It isn’t hard to get distracted with social media sites and start drifting. Use social media according to a timetable.
- Turn off notifications: These will interrupt your time and will lead to reduction in your net productivity when you aren’t online on social media.
- Set a time for regular content posts: Ideally, you should begin with a new post each week.
- Assess analytics: You need to review the results of your marketing strategy – this can be done through several tools, one of the most popular ones being Google Analytics.
Set an anticipated return on the investment you are making: Ask yourself what your business is hoping to gain from the social media campaign and how much time should this gain take to occur.