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Top tips for using social media in your start-up or micro business

In this blog post, we give our top tips for using social media in your start-up or micro business.

We talk about the different types of social media and why you may want to consider using them for your business, plus how to work out which platform is best for your business.  Our tips are based on years of experience running our own small businesses.

This will be relevant to you, as a small business owner, regardless of whether you are intending to do it all yourself, just part of it, or wish to outsource everything to a social media manager.

If the latter, then it is just as important to understand the basics so you can ensure whoever you outsource to is a) the correct partner for you, and b) is making the recommendations for your business.

Top tips for using social media in your start-up or micro business

Why use social media?

There are several reasons why you might wish to use social media in your business and we’ve summarised the main considerations below.

  1. Free marketing tool! We all love “free” although you will of course need to consider how you value your time and how much of your time it is worth!
  2. Great way to generate exposure and create a bigger audience for your business
  3. Ideal for helping to get your ideal client to know, like and trust you by showcasing your personality. We all know people buy from people, and people specifically buy from small businesses because they like that personal touch.
  4. An extension of your shop window to display what you do
  5. Part of your SEO to drive traffic to your website
  6. You can sell on it (to different extents depending on the platform)

why use social media in your marketing

How do you work out which platform to use?

So how do you work out which platform to use?

As with any marketing tool, we would always suggest defining your ideal client as the very first step to take in the process.

The sort of questions you might like to ask yourself include:

  1. Is your ideal client a business or consumer?
  2. Are they young or old?
  3. Where do they hang out?
    • which platforms?
    • what time of day?
  4. What problem do they need solving?
  5. What are they likely to need?

how to work out which social media platform to use

What are the options?

Now that you’ve identified your ideal client, the next stage is to consider which social media platform they are most likely to use.

In today’s blog, we’re focussing on the platforms considered to be the “top 5” for small businesses.  We’ve summarised the main features of each below:

Facebook

Facebook is one of the biggest platforms, with a massive audience of over 1bn active users per day.

For businesses, Facebook offers pages and groups.  Pages can be used as a showcase for your products or services BUT it’s groups which really have the greatest amount of scope for business users.

Groups are great way to interact with your ideal client once you’ve gained their attention – private groups enable you to introduce those people to your brand and for them to personally experience what your business is about through various forms of interaction (live chat, pre-recorded video, polls, etc).

Facebook has powerful analytics.  One of the main benefits of Facebook is its highly targeted advertising, although this can be expensive compared with other advertising methods

Instagram

Instagram is also huge over 1bn active users per day.

This differs from Facebook in that it focuses on photos and videos.  It offers the opportunity to “show and tell” your products and services.  It is visually highly appealing and therefore works well for products or creative output BUT it can be used successfully by other businesses too and text based imagery is becoming more popular.

Instagram is more popular than Facebook for younger people because it’s designed for use over mobile.  It even has a checkout feature so it is fully set up for e-commerce.

However, like all of these platforms, they work their magic best when paid for.  Using the entirely free functionality, it needs quite an aggressive schedule to build an audience.  Furthermore, generating content can be time consuming.

LinkedIn

Although most social media platforms are considered to be used by consumers, Linked In is generally used for B2B communication.

LinkedIn was designed for professionals to network, for example for finding career opportunities.  But it is still a very powerful tool and can be used to build brand awareness.

For example, you can use the filters within the system (location, job title, company) to target your ideal client and connect with them and we know several small businesses who gain most of their new clients through LinkedIn alone. 

But, with only 65m active users, it is much smaller than other platforms and is not designed for e-commerce. 

Social Media or Search Engine?

We’ve left YouTube and Pinterest until last, as these are both different from the other platforms we’ve talked about.  YouTube and Pinterest are “search engines” rather than “social media”.

YouTube

YouTube has approx. 2bn users and it is the biggest platform for sharing video content, together with being the “go to” place for learning new things.

For businesses, video content is a really powerful tool, and it is one of the best forms of media for driving traffic to your website.

So YouTube can be ideal for sharing and delivering presentations, know-how, product demos, trailers and training for example.

For all platforms (Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn for example), video drives more conversions than still photos.

So YouTube is a very powerful platform.

The only downside that we can see is that it really needs to be optimised for YouTube SEO, so it can be difficult to rank highly.

Also, users of YouTube have high expectations, so it can be time consuming and possibly costly to populate with suitable content for audience building and conversion.

Pinterest

Pinterest is also a search engine and it is one of the top platforms used by small businesses.

With around 291m users, most millennials and over 50% of women aged between 25 and 54 use Pinterest.  More men are now starting to use it too.

Unlike most social media platforms Pinterest encourages external links, so it is great for driving traffic to your website (and therefore good for SEO too.)

It works best when using pretty images so it is ideal for creative industries e.g.: weddings, fashion, food, photography, travel.  But wording over images also works well, so more businesses are now using it to drive traffic through motivational quotes, mantras, checklists, guides and infographics.

Pinterest also works particularly well to promote products, so it partners well with Etsy for example.  You can create a product pin which, when clicked on, will take the user straight through to your Etsy shop where the user can purchase that product.  This is a very simple process and so it is a very powerful e-commerce marketing tool.

Finally, Pinterest has staying power.  We know businesses who are still getting a good response from pins which were created over a year ago.  This is quite different from the transient nature of the social media platforms mentioned at the start of this blog.

our top tips for using social media in your business

Our Top Tips for Using Social Media in your Start-up or Micro Business

So what are our top tips for using social media in your start-up or micro business?

Social media is designed to be social

It’s not enough just to post.  You need to be interacting with your ideal client, commenting, liking, sharing etc. and on a regular basis.  It takes effort.

Mix up content

Don’t fall into the trap of trying to sell all the time.  You want a mix of posts that generate engagement, posts that get people to know like and trust you, and posts with a clear Call To Action.

Be engaging and on brand

This applies to images for Instagram and Pinterest particularly, plus the same principles apply for video with YouTube.  Creating content can be time consuming and expensive, although there are lots of free products available such as Canva.

Be consistent

All platforms require you to be consistent if the algorithm is going to work for you.  It is better to use one platform consistently and well, rather than several sporadically.

Engagement is Key

Don’t fall into the trap of getting hung up about the number of followers.  This isn’t relevant – it’s the number of engaged followers (i.e.: your ideal client) that matters.  So use the analytics and insights that each platform offers to get a feel for how well you’re performing, rather than looking purely at the follower numbers.

Use a strategy

All social media, if used for business, needs a strategy (frequency, consistency, on brand, tone of voice)

The Stressfree Business Hub

We hope this blog post has been useful to you.

We talk in more detail over in our Facebook community “The Stressfree Business Hub” about all of these topics so you can be better informed and make the right decisions when setting up in business.

If you’re not already part of our community, it’s entirely free and can be found here:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/thestressfreebusinesshub

Blog featured image Stressfree Business Hub the launch of our Facebook groupLiz & Doug are a husband and wife team who have been running successful micro businesses for 25 years. With backgrounds as a “big 4” chartered accountant and as consultants, both have worked for large companies with clients worldwide. They believe that with the right know-how and support, starting a business can be made easy (or certainly easier!)

The contents of this blog are for general information purposes only and are correct to the best of our knowledge at the time of going to press. You may wish to seek professional advice in relation to specific circumstances.

We hope this blog post has been useful to you and if so, we think you will love this one too!

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This site is not a part of the Facebook website, Instagram or Facebook, Inc.  Nor is it a part of the YouTube website or Google, Inc.  Nor is it a part of the LinkedIn website or LinkedIn Corporation.  Nor is it a part of the Pinterest website or Pinterest, Inc.

Additionally, This site is not endorsed by Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest or YouTube in any way.

Instagram is a trademark of Instagram, Inc. FACEBOOK is a trademark of FACEBOOK, Inc.  YouTube is a trademark of Google, Inc. LinkedIn is a trademark of LinkedIn Corporation.  PINTEREST is a trademark of Pinterest, Inc

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