By Anneline, Customer Experience Manager, Bizcrowd

Social media is always a hot topic on Bizcrowd, with the same questions popping up time and time again. How can it help me grow my business and engage with my customer base? Will it take up a lot of my time? How do I get started?

Here we explain how social media can benefit your business, without taking up a lot of your time.

The big questions remain:
• Has it got the potential to help me grow my business and engage with my existing customer base?
• Will it take up a lot of my time?
• How do I get started?
I believe that social media can be of benefit whether your clients are consumers or businesses. I would also argue that it doesn’t necessarily have to take up a lot of your time. To find out how to get started – check out our five top tips below.

Who are your customers?

Being interesting is one of the most important things when using social networks. It’s therefore important to initially spend a little bit of time researching what your customers do on social media and which platforms they use the most. This will help you understand how to connect and get their attention in a way that is relevant to them.

Instead of simply pushing content on to your audience you should try to engage with them by joining in existing conversations. Try to identify conversations where you can add real value as a subject matter expert. Content tends to grow organically and reach a wider audience if it’s of interest. Don’t be afraid to start small by engaging with just a few people – it’s all about quality rather than quantity.

Give people a reason to engage with you

Yes, of course everyone is very busy these days and people tend to already spend a lot of their time online but that’s exactly the point. If you have something interesting to say – why shouldn’t they spend some time with you? Just appearing in search is often not good enough. You need to stand for something within your space to differentiate yourself.

Some examples? If you’re a florist, you can engage with people on Twitter who are planning their wedding using relevant hashtags, you can even illustrate pictures of your work on Instagram and Pinterest. If you’re a butcher, you could provide short articles on choosing the best cuts, or recipes and online tutorials.

This does also apply if your customers are businesses – creating blogs, photos, videos, and other content to promote what you do. In fact, promote might not be the adequate word – it’s more about educating. For example, you could put create a video on YouTube to demonstrate what you do or how you can help potential new clients with some of their challenges.

Build strong relationships with your customers

You might doubt it but you potentially can do this much better than big corporations can. The likes of Apple often can’t reply to every post made to their social media accounts but you can. Treat every interaction on an individual basis and make your customers feel special.

At the same time, don’t be afraid to see what the big names are doing. Your business may be different, in size and in the service you offer, but don’t be afraid to look at big corporations that you like. Have a look at who does social media very well and don’t be afraid to adapt some of their strategies for your business. Whatever you do make sure to regularly check your accounts so you don’t miss a message sent.

Team up!

It might be a good idea to team up with other businesses around you and work as a team for mutual benefit. Building content partnerships with non-competitive but complementary businesses has the potential to increase search results as well as reasons to visit.

Make use of free advice and tools

Google Analytics is a free service and allows you to see how many people have visited your website, what they searched for when they found your page, which pages they visited and so on. This knowledge will be vital when tailoring your social profile and content to your customers.

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