By Richard Wood, MD of Gillissa

There is little doubt as to the importance of social media and its uses to businesses — whether it be as a means of communication between a brand and its customers, a marketing tool to raise product awareness or a tool to build sales leads, it has now cemented its status as a “must-have”.

This has led many time-short businesses to outsource their social media to the “experts” who are capitalising on its popularity by honing their expertise to aid businesses in their aim to utilise its business growth potential. While many companies understand the need to use social media, outsourcing to an expert is not a always a simple solution — it is crucial to question the validity and credentials of these experts, as you may feel of late that everyone is proclaiming to be an authority in the fields of Twitter and Facebook!

With this in mind, it may be time to be your own social media expert, and utilise the best resources available to make managing your own social media as easy as possible. The key concerns that businesses identify with managing their own social media, have been the impact it may have on their time and the cost of hiring staff to manage the activities. However there are digital marketing solutions which offer businesses the ability to retain control of their output, whilst minimising the time cost of keeping on top of social media — software which avoids the expense of outsourcing. Using a central “hub” to input all your Social Media output is the latest solution for many businesses, and the ability to load content which will be scheduled for output allows you to “find time” for social media.

Here are a few key points to consider:

-Consider the source by which you are relaying the information - for Twitter you want to provide short concise soundbites, for Facebook you can provide more depth of content. Also examine the time at which people are likely to be looking at their social media when scheduling output — lunchtime, early evening and pre 9am are the times people are most likely to be logging on to social media. Think about the times your customers are most likely to be online
— well timed tweets are likely to get more response and feedback.

-Adhering to some basic ground rules will aid you to output content just as successfully as a social media expert
— and there are now platforms such as our own Social Media Manager which will help you to manage all your social media outlets from one central hub, cutting down dramatically on the time it will take to manage your social media.

-Cross Promotion — ensure you are linking from one source (ie, Twitter) to another (ie Facebook) and via your website. This will ensure that you are engaging your fans across as many channels as possible and driving traffic to your website, which should be one of your primary goals. Platforms such as ours show all the channels to which you are outputting, making it easy to monitor all the key data within your social media accounts.

-A strong social media campaign will be the right mix of timely and relevant messages. People search social media for news and businesses that are relevant to them but it is crucial to avoid using too many direct sales posts. It is also essential to avoid messages being too infrequent and patchy in terms of issuing content.

We have seen that there has been a rapid explosion of businesses using Social Media over the last 6 months, but even now the UK is still way behind the USA in which 90% or more of the entire business population is using social media in one form or another. Social media is a long term game, so my advice is to ensure that your business publishes a wealth of content, but at a price that is affordable.