If you’re running a business, whether on or offline, then social media will give you a wealth of opportunity.  So, if you haven’t yet tapped into that opportunity, we’ll tell you what you need to do.  Within this piece, we will summarize the most popular social media platforms, discuss what social media marketing is and give you some of the know-how to help you get started.  If you run a successful social media campaign to promote your business online, then you should gain more leads and be able to convert them into paying customers.

Let’s get started!

What is Social Media Marketing?

A group of people organizing social media marketing online.

You know what social media is – it’s using online “networking” platforms to connect with friends, family, business colleagues, old college mates, acquaintances and of course, businesses and brands.  You also know that some networks are different to others.  Some use the power of content through text mainly (Twitter for example), some are business related (LinkedIn), some use video (TikTok and YouTube) and some use images (Instagram), some use both (Facebook).  Of course, there’s still lots of crossover.  With social media for business, it’s about marketing your business to audiences on social media.  Let’s discuss the marketing aspect.

  • Social media marketing involves carefully thinking about the content you post about business or brand on social media networks for promotional reasons.
  • Within that, it’s about considering how you’re going to elevate your brand and developing targeted activity to reach an audience.
  • It’s also about growing your audience on social media, using it to find new audiences and generating leads to convert into paying customers.
  • Additionally, it’s about creating a community online.

Now you know what it is – let’s quickly give you an overview of all of the social media platforms available.  There are lots, this list doesn’t cover them all but it gives you the biggest networks and those with the widest reach:

  • With over 2 billion users, Facebook is not to be ignored.  It is especially popular with Millennials and Gen X although it also attracts older people to the platform.  Ideal for business to consumer, there are plenty of exciting features on Facebook that you could use.  These include insights to your customers, metrics to measure performance, advertising opportunities, a shopping area where you can create your own Facebook shops and business pages that look like small websites.
  • This relatively young platform harnesses the power of video content.  It’s popular with a younger audience, between 16 and 25 but it does get plenty of Gen Z and Millennials enjoying its content.  There’s lots of opportunity for business to consumer and business to business and with over 1 billion active users, you’re bound to find your audience on TikTok.
  • Another huge social media platform with over 1 billion users, this popular video and image sharing platform is superb for visual businesses.  With a Millennial and Gen Z focussed audience (and older users) there’s lots of opportunity.  As for features, there’s a shoppable feature, LIVE option (to go Live to your audience), Stories (mini videos or collections of images), emojis, stickers and advertising. Plus, if you use the creator studio, you also get access to other business-related features such as insights and metrics.
  • This platform has over 200 million users, and it skews more male than female.  It’s very much based on opinions and messages are brief and to the point.  It’s ideal for B2B and B2C especially political debate.  The audience is Millennial and Gen X.
  • For B2B this is ideal as it is a professional network that’s about business networking, finding career opportunities and discussing business-related issues.  The platform has over 780 million users and reaches across audiences.
  • Not only a social media platform, but YouTube is also a search engine and the second biggest website.  It showcases videos and has more than 300 million people accessing it daily.  While it’s audience is mainly Millennials, people of all different ages use the channel.  It’s ideal for you if you want to highlight new collections, show people how to use products, introduce people to other areas of your business or to create a Vlog.
  • This young social media platform is all about quick-fire messages and images that disappear.  It’s mainly favored by Gen Z but it’s still good for advertising B2C content and with over 300 million users, if you have a young audience, perhaps you should investigate SnapChat.
  • Pinterest has been going for well over a decade now and focusses on online, visual pinboards.  Users pin items of interest and build themes.  It’s a popular social media platform for Baby Boomers so if that’s your audience, you should look at this social media platform.  With more than 440 million users, it’s not to be ignored!

What Social Media Can Do For You

A part of a smartphone screen that includes many social applications online like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc.

Below, we’ve put together a list of reasons why every business, regardless of size or sector should use social media as a promotional tool:

  1. It builds brand awareness.
  2. It reaches new leads.
  3. It creates more website traffic.
  4. It advertises direct to your audience (low-budget advertising).
  5. It gives you a chance of building your own online community.
  6. You can engage with your audience through your channels.
  7. It’s a platform for competitions to promote your brand.
  8. There are plenty of ways to monetize your social media, such as shopping pages,
  9. You can use it to Go Live to your audience in real time.
  10. Social media is idea for canvassing opinion.
  11. Run special offers to generate more interest.
  12. Create social media campaigns to promote your business or brand.
  13. Link your blog and or your website.
  14. Find out more about your audience using the insights and metrics features.
  15. Build a relationship with your followers.
  16. Research your competition to see any areas that you could capitalize on.
  17. Develop business profiles and find out how to get verified on Instagram here.

Crafting a Social Media Strategy

Illustration of two men making a strategy plan on social media platforms.

To get started on social media, you need to choose your platforms, create your profiles and get them linked to your other online channels (e.g., your website).  Next, it’s about crafting a social media strategy.

Your social media strategy will be similar to your business strategy except it concentrates on social media.  It shouldn’t be a long, detailed document, rather a summary in one or two pages.  Alongside your social media strategy document, you should also have a social media calendar) which will display when each social media activity is happening.  Your social media strategy should list all your goals and what you’re going to do to reach those goals.  It should cover a period of around 3, 6, 9 or 12 months.  Remember, it’s fluid, so it should evolve over time.  You can add things to it and remove things.  Revisit it every few months to measure your performance on your social media channels.

Creating Your Content

Once you know what your social media strategy is, visit each goal and design your content to work in synergy with that goal.  This should never be rushed, especially if you’re new to social media.  Take time to create it and make sure it’s interesting, engaging and enticing.  For inspiration, look at the accounts you love and ask yourself what it is about their posts that invites you in?  Also check your competitors’ posts and see what works well, and what doesn’t work well.

Never over-post.  It’s good to be active, but too many posts in succession is a turn off for followers and some platforms, for example, Instagram may penalize your account and you could end up shadowbanned.  Post three or four times a day and space out your posts but be sensible, there’s no point in posting at 1.00am when most people will be asleep!

Scheduling Content

An illustration of a woman and a man that are scheduling on a calendar.

You can also schedule your content which frees you up to do other things.  Once a week, plan out your content and use a scheduling tool which posts on your behalf so you don’t have to think about it.  Of course, if something comes up in between and you want to shout about it, just post away!

Always Make Sure You Look Like a Pro

Your content should always have a professional finish and be recognizable as yours.  Whether it’s a particular style, using some of your livery or adding your logo.  Make sure it looks slick or your business could be perceived as sloppy.

Use the Features Available

Each social media platform has its own set of features such as emojis, stickers, filters, tags etc.  Use them on your post and don’t forget to tag other people or accounts if relevant.  Always add a hashtag (searchable term that others might use to find your content).  Look at the hashtags that your competitors use for inspiration.

Track Your Social Media Performance

Almost every social media platform has tracking tools that you can use to monitor your performance online.  Do use these to see how well your posts perform and to understand what you need to do more of, what you need to do better and what works best.

In Summary

If you’re not yet online with social media for business, get your profiles set up.  Start with one platform and get that right before moving onto the next.  It’s better to start small than overload with half a dozen platforms and you’ll find it easier to manage.  Revisit your platform every few weeks to monitor performance and once you’ve got it right, concentrate on a new platform to further widen your audience.  Do send an email out with links to your social media channels to all of your customers to encourage them to follow your journey on social media.