Making the most of social media
There are 3.8 billion active social media users worldwide1. Every single day there are over 500 million tweets, almost 6 billion Facebook likes2 and more than 100 million photos and videos uploaded to Instagram3. Each of these platforms provides opportunities for your business to build meaningful relationships with customers.
Access your audience
Connect with your customers on a personal level by communicating through social media. Whether you have a basic profile for queries, or run advertising campaigns to generate sales, social media is a unique opportunity for tailored marketing and promotion.
Develop brand loyalty
Turn customers into brand advocates by building natural relationships with your followers. Offer interesting or useful content – an online discount or a sneak-peek at ‘new in’ stock – that adds value to your brand proposition and makes you more personable.
Provide better customer service
Improve customer satisfaction by responding to complaints and queries directly, in a public setting. When done right, this helps to build a positive brand reputation, establish a loyal customer base and reduce strain on telephone support.
Customers don’t even have to leave the platform to visit your online shop now. Avoid the hard sell – social media is most effective when communication and decision-making are organic. Grab attention with eye-catching visuals and customers will more likely make a purchase or donation.
Select relevant social media platforms
Some social media platforms will be better suited to your business than others. You just need to find where your customers are and which works best for your product/service.
Popular platforms include:
- Facebook† - the most popular social networking website, with over 1.7 billion users. Facebook allows users to share updates, images and links with their 'friends'. A business account works in the same way and allows you to build your own community of followers who ‘Like’ your page.
- Twitter† - a highly topical news platform where popular topics ‘trend’ via hashtags. Users can ‘tag’ people or brands to create a conversation, or join trending conversations by searching for or tweeting with hashtags.
- Instagram†- a platform all about the visual, with images and video taking precedence over text. Instagram Stories allows you to post content that stays up for 24 hours, while the main feed hosts permanent posts.
- LinkedIn† - designed for professional networking. LinkedIn allows users to connect with potential business contacts, as well as search for candidates and advertise jobs. There are also industry-specific groups for discussions and support.
- Pinterest† - an image and inspiration sharing platform. Pinterest allows users to upload their own and ‘pin’ other people’s photos or images, which may link through to webpages. Popular topics are DIY tutorials, recipes, travel photos, famous quotes and compelling infographics.
- Snapchat† – a photo and video sharing platform where content appears temporarily before disappearing. Snapchat is predominantly used by Gen Z and can be a great way to engage with this audience and show your authentic and playful side, if that’s part of your brand.
- TikTok† – the newest social media platform. Users create fun, and often silly, 15 second videos to which music and effects can be added. TikTok is all about raw video content filmed on smartphones, but brands with a more entertaining side can gain traction with challenges and product demos.
Develop a strategy
Before you decide which social media platforms are best for your brand, you need to decide on your objectives. For example, are you aiming to talk to real customers, respond to queries or show expertise in your field?
- Develop a tone that's appropriate for social media – adapt your brand tone of voice to be more casual on social media platforms. You still need to be recognisably you, but avoid being directly promotional or formal. Focus on being approachable and engaging.
- Think about what you want to say – make sure every post has a reason behind it, so your customers will come to trust your content. It’s about quality rather than quantity.
- Determine how quickly you'll respond to complaints/queries - acceptable response times vary depending on the platform, but it's good practice to acknowledge a customer comment within 24 hours.
Share engaging content
Start conversations with your followers and build trust by sharing quality content. This may be useful, entertaining, informative or newsworthy, depending on your brand. Consider sharing:
- Blog posts from your company blog
- Relevant posts from your business partners
- News articles related to your organisation/sector
Use tools to schedule updates and monitor feedback
- Schedule posts in advance to work more efficiently
- See when your customers are online to optimise post engagement
- Receive alerts when someone directly messages you
- Monitor comments for specific language
- Collate data about post performance.
Use social media securely
Include social media in your overarching IT security policy to ensure staff use it responsibly and to reduce the chances of someone hacking into your accounts.