My 5 Top Tips for small businesses getting started on Social Media
12th May 2016
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I’ve recently started work as a freelance social media manager, following an intensive 6 month course with the fabulous Digital Mums. My first two clients are an accountant and a chartered surveyor, neither the type of business that you automatically associate with social media. To get results for them I’m having to do a bit more than tweet about cats, cats in jumpers, or lists of cats in jumpers.

If you want to start some social media activity, or improve your existing activity, here are my 5 top tips:


 1. Choose the right platform

Your time is precious, spend it wisely. Choosing the right platform is key. Not all social media platforms are created equal. To really make a platform work for you will take you roughly 5 hours per week, so think carefully before deciding to use more than one. One great platform is much better than 2 or 3 so so platforms.

 You have 2 key considerations here:


  • Which platforms are your customers using?
  • Which platforms best suit your business?


Some information about the main platforms to help you decide:


  • Facebook – nothing can beat Facebook in terms of the sheer number of people that use it. However, Facebook are running a business, they want you to pay for the privilege of using it to promote your business. View Facebook as a low cost advertising platform, reaching your customers organically (without paying) will be tough.            
    • 31 million users in the UK, 44 billion worldwide
    • Age demographics:

Age     %

18-24   16

25-34   22

35-44   19

45-54   18

55+     25 

  • Instagram– the next largest platform in terms of number of users. Research shows that Instagram users are more receptive to brands than Facebook users. If your business lends itself well to images this could be a good choice. You do need a lot of images though, 1 or 2 per day. This is an informal platform, so great for ‘behind the scenes’ images to help share the personality of your business.
    • Over 300 million active monthly visitors (worldwide)
    • Age demographics:

Age    %

18-24   23

25-34   26

35-44   19

45-54   15

55+     16 


  • Twitter–  a great platform for being able to engage with other users. Exciting and fast moving, you can speak directly with potential customers in a casual way. Also great for customer service as you can respond directly to comments or complaints.
    • 15 million active users in the UK, 270 million worldwide 
    • Age demographics:

Age    %

18-24   19

25-34   22

35-44   21

45-54   18

55+     20


  • Pinterest–  great for lifestyle brands. Pinterest is like an online, glossy brochure.  Users add ‘pins’ to a virtual pin board, either uploading their own images or re-pinning a photo posted by another user. Pinterest was well known for having mostly female users, but this is now changing.
    • 70 million users
    • Age demographics:

Age    %

18-24   15

25-34   26

35-44   21

45-54   17

55+     22


A tongue in cheek guide to the the personalities of the different platforms:

Facebook - I like donuts

Instagram - Here's a vintage style photo of my donut

Twitter - I'm eating a #Donut

Pinterest - Here's a donut recipe

You Tube - Here I am eating a donut

LinkedIn - My skills include donut eating

Many a true word said in jest. 


 2. Think about your customers


Who is your ideal or typical customer? Where do they live, how old are they, do they have children, what do they do at the weekends? Think of 2 or 3 really good examples that you can picture clearly in your mind.


Why? Because you have to know who you are trying to reach and what would make them follow you on social media. Obviously you want to use social media to grow your business, you want to market your product or service. If you just post about how fabulous your latest product is, why would anyone be interested in following you? They wouldn’t.


However, if you can share information that is useful to your customers then they might follow you. I’ll use my accountant client as an example. How interested are you in hearing all about how great an accountant she is and how she can do your tax returns for you? I’m guessing only very slightly interested. So, we thought about her target audience, it’s small business owners. 75% of what I tweet about is general information of interest to small business owners, so we cover: networking, setting up a business, growing a business, work life balance for self employed people.  This means that the target audience are more likely to follow her, as well as seeing all this useful information they will see the tweets promoting her services.


 3. Strictly business

This is social media for business. Do not use it as you would your personal social media accounts. If you like to use social media to have some great banter with your mates, to share lists of cats in jumpers or to publicly complain to your broadband provider, that’s great for your personal accounts. Are your customers interested in this? Unlikely.


Do show some personality, have chats with potential customers, be a bit cheeky if it’s appropriate, this is all great. But don’t forget to think about what your customers want to see/hear from you and what tone of voice is appropriate for your business.


4.  Find your customers 

Your social media accounts are looking great, you are sharing useful information and posting regularly. Is now the time to sit back and wait for those followers to recognise what a great job you are doing and follow you in their droves? No.


You need to go and find those customers. Exactly how you do this will vary from platform to platform, but they all have a search function which you can use to identify potential future customers. Once you have done this you can start engaging with those people. Comment on their posts, either something complimentary or something useful. Don’t go straight in with a hard sell, it won’t work. You are trying to build a relationship; it’s like being at a party. You wouldn’t go up to a stranger at a party and say ‘do you need a new boiler/accountant/jumper for your cat?’, so don’t do it in the virtual world either. Once you have a relationship in place and you see that they have posted a photo of their poor cat looking very cold, then that could be a good time to nicely suggest that your latest range of cat jumpers may be just the thing for them. As in real life, building these relationships takes time.


Hang on, I hear you say, I can just buy loads of followers. Is your aim purely to have as many followers as possible? If so, this will work for you. If your aim is to have followers who engage with you on social media and may become customers, this will not work. Unfortunately, it’s not that easy.



5. Check your metrics 

You may or may not love numbers, either way you need to know your metrics. You have put hours of your precious time into setting up and running your social media platforms, this is how you will know if you are doing the right thing. All of the platforms have different metrics available, but they will all tell you how many followers you have and what response your posts are getting. When you get started you need to work on assumptions, once you are up and running you can start working on facts.


Look at the metrics for each of your posts. Did the post about yellow cat jumpers get loads of likes? Great, do some more similar posts.


 I hope these tips have helped to point you in the right direction and that you have fun with social media for your business.



Sources: tongue in cheek guide @AndrewBloch, data from @DigitalMumsHQ


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