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Social media is no longer an optional platform for businesses to use as and when they see fit, instead it is an integral part of digital marketing strategies and can hone fantastic results.

Here are some social media tips to help small businesses turn their dusty, empty accounts into engaging feeds of interesting content.

Utilise tools

As a small business it may be difficult to allocate the resource to ensure that social media accounts receive the attention they need to be successful. Luckily, there are a host of free tools available to make it easy to schedule posts in advance on many of the social networks available.

Hootsuite is one such tool that enables easy content scheduling on major social media websites such as Twitter, Facebook and Google plus. Their free plan allows users to schedule an almost unlimited number of posts throughout three chosen social networks, if more are required a premium account must be paid for.

Hootsuite dashboards can be customised to allow users to see chosen streams. These can include scheduled posts, mentions/comments and general activity. You can choose a specific time to schedule your posts or alternatively you can choose to select to AutoSchedule which allows Hootsuite to put out your posts at peak times.

Hootsuite is just one example of a social media scheduling tool, Buffer is also a great option with a similar free offering. Using these tools will allow your social feeds to remain active without requiring the full attention of someone in the business.

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Find and Follow Influencers

Influencers can mean the difference between getting your content seen and it disappearing in a sea of posts. Influencers are prominent figures on social media, these people are not celebrities in the traditional sense, but are a new type of social media celebrity that post/ tweet frequently and have a large following.

By discovering social influencers in your industry you are seeing the type of content your target audience enjoys and engages with, allowing you to take some hints from what the influencers are posting and applying it to your own social media strategy. Once your social media accounts are slightly more established you can consider approaching the influencers with collaboration ideas.

This can involve them being sent an item, or reviewing an experience which they post about on their social media channels and tag the business’ social accounts in the posts. This puts your product in front of a new, engaged audience which are more likely to convert than sending out blind posts to the unknown masses.

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Stay active

It is easy when you first set up social accounts to flood your timeline with a lot of content, however this pace is impossible to keep up unless you have a dedicated social team meaning that activity drops to almost nothing.

It is vital that social media accounts stay active. Some customers will use social media as a customer service gateway, if they see your last tweet was sent on a Monday in 2014, they are likely to go elsewhere. Plan to put out a set number of posts each week.

Buffer has found the below works for their users:

  • Twitter– 14 times per day.
  • Facebook– 2 times per day.
  • LinkedIn– 1 time per day, no weekends.
  • Google+– 2 times per day, no weekends.

Looking at these figures you may panic that you cannot manage 14 tweets a day, this mainly applies to those with a global audience. The times are also just a guideline, you may find that four tweets per day suits your audience and resources better, it is just a matter of trial and error to see what works for you and at what times during the day on each platform.

You can fill out your weekly quota by scheduling generic weekday posts and tweets. Use day specific posts along with the popular trending hashtags such as on Friday (#friyay, #weekend, #fridayfeeling, #ff), Thursday (#throwbackthursday, #tbt) Wednesday (#wednesdaywisdom), Monday (#mondaymotivation).

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Diversify your content

To keep your feeds fresh and audience engaged it is recommended that content is diversified. This means do not stick to plain text posts or even to just sharing images.

Video content is a popular medium on social media, according to Social Media Today ‘Video posts have 135% greater organic reach than photo posts’ which is why videos should be a part of a small business’ social media strategy.

Not every company has the budget to hours of original video content, however a few videos of products working, taken at an event or even answering questions can engage an audience and give you’re your social accounts the diversity needed.

Other posts that work well include articles, blog posts, polls and even gifs.

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By Gemma Flinders, digital marketing consultant, Receptional