Social media has become key in the way a business has presented itself to the world over the last 10 years. Here are five key questions about social media for SMEs, from Col Skinner at Profoundry, to help you improve your social media presence on the world wide web.

  1. social media for SMEsHow important is social media for my business?

A dedicated presence on social media networks is critical for businesses and now expected in almost all industries. It is the SMEs (particularly local businesses) who really stand to benefit from an active presence on social networks. It gives small business owners an additional channel to deliver insight, persona, customer service and awareness to their market users.

Do remember that you are opening up the flood gates to positive/negative feedback, customer service enquiries and queries. Therefore you either do it properly or don’t do it at all. But don’t let that scare you off. Representing your brand should come naturally to you, whatever the channel or platform. Commit time, creativity and planning into your social media and it can really pay off.

  1. Who should run my social media accounts?

Unless you intend to use social media as a dedicated customer service channel, try to have one staff member responsible for all profiles. This ensures the same tone of voice and quality are maintained throughout. Don’t just pick the youngest or least experienced staff member “because their time is cheaper”. You are putting someone in charge of your brand voice online, a very important role. So take some time to carefully consider the ‘flag bearer’ for your brand.

  1. How do I gain followers/likes?

Early on its infancy, Likes and Followers were seen as ‘the’ metric to judge a businesses success on social media. Slowly but surely, most businesses have come to understand that an engaged target audience is more important than a large diluted audience. If you want to gain your social media following then you have to give users a reason to want to Follow / Like your brand. Delivering relevant targeted content is the way to do just that.

Resist the temptation to buy followers. A purchased following can usually be sussed out by the more savvy user and if found, can create a mini PR disaster. If you are going to be on social media networks then properly commit. Be active, engage your audience and peers. There is nothing worse than heading to a profile to find an automated feed from the main industry news source.

Social Media Advertising is a great way to increase your awareness and following. It is less costly than Google Adwords (aka PPC Advertising) and has far better demographic targeting. More information can be found on the links below:

  1. How do I increase my brand awareness?

Social media is a channel that can introduce new customers to your brand. Think about the different types of users on the various channels and ensure you market to them in different ways. For example you would not use LinkedIn to try distribute consumer based content as it is a business network. Here are a range of other tips:

  • Visual content, such as images, graphics or videos, work best across Facebook and Twitter.
  • Utilise Twitter hashtags. They are a great way to help your tweets get picked up by other than your current followers.
  • Consider setting up an account and posting to Pinterest if you have a particularly visual product. For example wedding dresses, gadgets or home ware.
  • Don’t be afraid to get out there and Follow those users and businesses based in your local area.
  • Create niche Twitter Lists of various people or businesses you want to work with. Anyone included in your list will receive a notification, putting you on their radar.
  • Find events and other local businesses to talk about and with. This shows you are part of the local community. If you have just met with a particular user or business then @ them in a post or tweet.
  • Post content to LinkedIn through their Pulse network. This can be a great way to show you have a voice and opinions.
  • Consider targeted Social Media Advertising campaigns (mentioned earlier) as a method of increasing the reach of any content you produce.
  • Pay to promote the content to exactly who would be interested in. Promotion methods exist across all main social networks (LinkedIn, Twitter & Facebook).
  1. How do I compete for attention amongst all others?

It is fair to say that having a presence on any social network will require battling the constant flow of personal chatter and competitor noise. Forge a reputation and style that is unique to you and your brand. Be cheeky, fun, clever, creative and relevant. It is not a marketing channel where it’s imperative to benchmark and copy your competition. But do learn what you can from competitors success then try and do something different and unique to you. Try to build a unique brand voice and let your experience and persona shine through. Utilise the various opportunities (tagging users, hashtags & paid promotion) to bring people to you rather than constantly posting and hoping someone notices you.