20/07/2015

By Joanne Morley, Marketing Manager, myHermes

Due to the rise of the Internet it is now easier than ever before to launch your own business. The digital revolution is also helping companies to market their products and services in new and exciting ways – without costing a penny. This guide provides you with all you need to get started on social media!

PLATFORMS

There are now hundreds of free social media channels from Trip Advisor to Instagram and from Google+ to LinkedIn. However, this guide concentrates on three social media giants!

• Facebook

We’ve all seen The Social Network, right? You can build a professional-looking business page on Facebook within an hour. Once that is setup you can post to your page, sharing information and pictures as well as talking to your customers. Posts are limited to 2000 characters so you can go into a lot of detail.

• Twitter

Make sure you join Twitter and start building your army of followers, or Tweeps! You can create a customised profile within minutes so there’s no excuse. Posts are capped at 140 characters, so your messaging will have to be short and snappy.

• YouTube

YouTube isn’t just about watching videos of funny cats, so create a company channel. Everybody has a camera phone these days – so film your products in action, video yourself answering key questions, and stick them online!

TECHNIQUES

So you’re all setup on social, but what’s next? Here are some handy tips to get you started.

• Content

Tell the world who you are and what you’re selling. Post information and pictures about your popular items and why people should be buying them! Have you received a good review? Share it! Have you received any press coverage? Share it! Use these platforms as a mouthpiece for the business.

• News stories/events

You can also use news stories to your advantage. For instance, if there is a heatwave and you sell handheld fans, jump on social media! Use upcoming events to publicise your products too. If you sell wellies then make sure you post during Glastonbury! On Twitter you can also include hashtags so your posts are more visible (#Heatwave or #Glasto15).

• Competitions/Giveaways

Build your followers on Twitter by running competitions or giveaways. Ask followers to retweet your posts to enter. This improves your visibility across your target market.

• Follow/Interaction

If you want to gain followers/likes make sure you follow/like people too. Check out your competitors’ follower list and follow them. They will more than likely return the favour. Make sure you get your name out there by following the local and trade press too. Interact with your audience; look at what they’re posting and respond – don’t be afraid to have a chat, it is ‘social’ after all. Take advantage of the Follow Friday hashtag on Twitter (#FF), it’s a great way to gain brownie points from other businesses and customers.

• Linking/Website

If you’re tweeting about a specific product, make sure you also include the link to the product page on your website. This helps to drive traffic and could lead to conversions. Many website builders will allow you to integrate your social media channels onsite. Visitors can then get quick access to you social messaging. It’s win-win.

• Cross-Promotion

If you’ve created a fantastic video on YouTube showing off one of your products, make sure you promote the video on Twitter and Facebook too – all you have to do is copy the link! In addition, if your Facebook page has more likes than your Twitter account, invite those people to like you on Twitter too. Sometimes people just need a nudge.

TOOLS

I imagine you’re now brimming with content ideas, so let’s run through some useful tools to make your life easier.

• Hootsuite and Tweetdeck (Facebook/Twitter)

Both Hootsuite and Tweetdeck let you schedule posts into the future. By using these tools you can write your social posts in one go and spread them across the week, saving vital time.

• Facebook Insights & Twitter Analytics (Facebook)

Use Facebook Insights or Twitter Analytics to find key information on how many people you are reaching. They also provide useful information on the success of individual posts – helping you to determine what’s working well and what isn’t.

• TweetReach (Twitter)

This free tool helps you to learn how many people are viewing your tweets. You can also use it for research purposes, evaluating the reach of particular hashtags and phrases.

• Simply Measured (Numerous)

Simply Measured has created a number of free tools for social media enthusiasts. You can view your top followers on different accounts and where they come from.

CONCLUSION

Social media provides a fantastic opportunity for young entrepreneurs and SMEs to reach and interact with their target markets for free. I hope this guide provides you with confidence to make your mark on the world of social!