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Social Media Platforms for Business – The Ultimate Guide to Get You Started

Social Media Platforms for Business

Social media is a great way to directly interact with potential, current and past customers of your business. It provides a cost effective platform to share information about your products and services and news and insights that are relevant to your industry and business.

WIth billions of people glued to social media platforms like Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube 24/7, it’s an online marketplace for your business that is just waiting to be unlocked.

Read on for an overview of; how to optimise your social media profiles, create engaging content, go above and beyond with customer service, track your social media engagement, and time effective ways to get the most out of social media for business.

Overview of Leading Platforms

With so many social media platforms to choose from, it can be hard to know where to start when tapping into this form of marketing for your business.

The best thing to do is to thoroughly understand your business’s target audience. If you know its demographic, likes, interests and how your customers like to spend their time online, you can instantly narrow down which social platforms that will be most suited to your customers and therefore your business.

Facebook

Facebook is the preferred social network for millions of millennials and boomers around the world. It offers an easy way to connect with friends, family members and businesses that play an important part in their life.

Via its groups, pages, events and advertising functions, businesses have plenty of ways to start conversations and connect with the people that are suited to their brand. Facebook has plenty of audience segmentation and data analysis tools available in its business suite. This means that businesses can be really specific in who they want to target with their social media activity on this platform.

Instagram

Instagram hit the world with a bang in 2010 and since then has been ‘the’ place to share inspirational videos, images and messages with a huge audience base. This platform is particularly popular with 35 year olds and under and is the perfect place for brands that like to emphasise creativity in their products and services.

Instagram content can be created in the form of reels, live videos, stories and images posted to your profile page. The overall theme being that content should be visually engaging and high quality. Influencer collaboration is also a big feature of Instagram.

The idea being that brands partner with well-known celebrities or experts who are able to reach and connect with their target customer to introduce their brand to their followers in return for a fee.

Twitter

Twitter is all about quick, instant updates and offers a commentary of what is going on in the world right now. If you need to share timely updates, arrange customer surveys, or direct people to your website, Twitter can help. By using short, character limited messages, you can create a buzz around your business by engaging with people and other businesses in conversations, threads, and sharing of information. Just like Facebook, businesses can create Twitter lists to help organise interactions that matter to their business. This could include relevant media outlets, influencers, competitors, and target customers.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn has a bigger user base than most people realise. With over 730 million people using the business networking platform, it’s a great way to put your business in front of other professionals.

This platform focuses on B2B brand interactions but also has a huge recruitment sector too. If you’re looking to attract new talent into your business, then having an up-to-date LinkedIn profile is a great way to showcase why it’s great to work in your organisation. It’s also a good place to professionally scout and approach other businesses that you may want to work with or partner with in B2B collaborations.

Individuals and company pages are available and the platform aims to increase the number of ‘followers’ for each by using showcase pages, groups, targeted advertising and discussions on all manner of business topics.

YouTube

YouTube is the second large search engine behind Google – meaning that it presents a huge opportunity for businesses to reach an engaged audience that is looking for video content, demonstrations and tutorials.

There are plenty of opportunities for businesses to create and share various types of content, such as tutorials, product demonstrations, company culture videos, and expert interviews. These can all help to engage consumers at different stages of the buyer’s journey.

For maximum exposure, be sure to make videos that are as accessible to users and search engines as possible. Integrate keywords into titles, descriptions and meta-data so that the search algorithm can accurately present your content to interested people. Using audio descriptions and vibrant thumbnails can help to grab attention in busy feeds.

YouTube also offers various ways to generate revenue, such as the YouTube Partner Program, Channel Memberships, Merchandise Shelves, Super Chat/Stickers, and more.

Building Your Social Media Foundation

It is important for brands to create a professional profile across different social media platforms. These profiles should align with the core business goals and values.

Once you have created visually streamlined profiles, you can start sharing content that is on-brand, engaging with your audience and consider running advertisements to further your customer reach.

Branding Guidelines

To make sure that there is a continuity in the way your business represents itself online, it is important for you to create some branding guidelines for your social media account.

Some of the things you need to do are:

You need different variations of your logo to use for the profile image, cover photo and post images.

  • Decide what kinds of typography styles you want to use on your platform. This includes deciding the fonts, spacings and colours.
  • Set a specific tone to use in your content and messages. Your tone can be authentic, inclusive, conversational etc.
  • You need to set guidelines for the imagery. Decide on some specific colour pallets, graphic styles and compositions. Include examples of acceptable templates in your brand guidelines document.

Your brand guidelines need to be clear, easy to follow and upheld. It’s a good idea to create an asset library so that the people in charge of posting to your accounts have approved formats to use.

Profile Optimisation

A business social media profile that is fully optimised helps visitors to know they’re in the right place and builds trust with your brand.

Essential profile optimisation steps:

  • Descriptions: You need to summarise your key services and products with their relevant keywords. Tell users how your services and products bring value in their lives.
  • Links: To increase conversions on your website you can add the URLs of your website wherever you give a Call to Action. If you track these, you will be able to measure social media conversions.
  • Virtual Assets: In your content you should add your brand logo and colours consistently. It’s important to use high quality images designed by you without any copyright claims.
  • Contact Details: Sharing contact information like phone number, email, location, helpline is very important for the convenience of the visitors.
  • Social Connections: Link the content on your website with the social media accounts of your business to get better leads and engagement.
  • Social Media Handles: If you can, it’s best to have matching social media handles across your platforms. A handle is the name of the account after the @ sign. For example @LittleTextiles or @Coca-Cola

Building Your Audience with Value-Driven Content

You can change the perception that your customers have about your brand by sharing valuable content.

By creating content around key areas like education, motivation, entertainment, health that resonate with the needs of your audience, you can present yourself as a team that ‘gets’ its customers. You can then divide the content topics into different pillars that are linked to the stages of the customer journey.

Awareness Stage

This is the stage in the buyer journey where your ideal customer may not know about you yet. You’re using your social media content to get in front of them for the first time.

  • Market Developments, Industry Trends and New Products
  • Overview of Product Capabilities
  • Guides for Product Comparison
  • Innovative Marketing Strategies That Raise Brand Awareness

Consideration Stage

At this point in your customer’s journey, they have interacted with your brand and are now considering if they will spend further time and money with you. Information shared here should be informative and interesting.

  • Tutorials and Tips for Education
  • Client-Focused Instructions
  • Business Data, Insights & Analysis
  • Interviews with Subject Matter Experts

Decision Stage

The decision stage is where your content can create leads. This will focus on persuasive content that motivates customers to buy and enquire further and become a lead in your CRM system.

  • Instructional Materials and Live Demos
  • Examples Featuring Well-Known Brands
  • Testimonials and Independent Reviews
  • Lead Capture and Free Trials via Gated Content

Customer Retention

Once your social media audience has engaged with the business to become a lead or an opportunity, it’s your job to retain them. Social media content at this point in a customer’s journey should focus on celebrating them, rewarding them and sharing positive experiences that entice them to come back and spend money with you again.

  • Content Features Created by Users
  • Programs for Loyalty and Advocacy
  • Sneak Peek at New Products
  • Appreciation Content for Clients

Creation & Optimisation Of Content For Social Media 

You need to follow the best practices for content creation and sharing.

Some of the practices you can adopt are:

  • Reshare user-generated content and use hashtags to increase exposure.
  • Branded hashtags can increase exposure; to capitalise on trends, tag appropriate profiles and publications.
  • React to queries and remarks from the audience in a timely manner.
  • Find the sweet spot for engagement by trying out alternative forms (e.g., reels vs. blogs) and uploading at different times.
  • Examine the content formats used by competitors that drive significant interaction.
  • Always use high-quality, consistent visual content that is also optimised for the platform’s algorithms.

Strategic Social Media Advertising

Paid advertising on social media can quickly increase reach and engagement, whereas organic growth focuses on establishing relationships.

Most businesses will use a combination of the two via social media. In both instances, you can and should create customer targeting lists based on location, demographics, hobbies and behaviours. This helps to ensure that you’re really reaching and engaging with the right people for your brand.

When getting started, ensure you:

  • Establish the goals of your campaign and identify your target demographic.
  • Optimise performance by implementing sufficient tracking.
  • Verify the efficiency of your messaging by starting small.
  • Images, captions, and calls to action should be split-tested regularly.
  • Increase funding for top-performing investments alone.
  • Use all available devices and channels to retarget interested users.
  • Make promotional materials that are both unique and adaptable, changing with the seasons, current events, and the journey of the consumer.

Types of Social Media Advertisements

Image/Video Ads

  • Ads in the Feed and Stories
  • Various products are tastefully showcased in carousel forms.
  • Promotional advertisements for sets of products

Stories

  • Full-screen, interactive advertisements
  • Polls, questions, and swipe-up links increase engagement.

Sponsored Posts

  • Links to articles, videos, or deals are promoted in social media posts.

Influencer Marketing

  • Brand ambassadorships, content partnerships
  • Campaigns to Influence Programmes

The best way to allocate funds so that you get a return on investment (ROI) is to track conversion rates and cost per lead.

Building Loyalty & Advocacy

When you offer really great customer service and build strong relationships with customers on social media, it helps to keep them engaged with your brand for a long time. This can lead to them recommending your brand to others naturally which builds brand loyalty and advocacy.

Social Media Customer Service – Best Practices

Monitoring: It involves actively listening for any mentions of your brand and relevant conversations using social listening tools. Identify common questions that people often ask and provide answers to them in advance.

Response Protocols: When someone asks a question or gives feedback, make sure to respond quickly and provide helpful solutions. Ensure that there are well-defined procedures in place for handling escalating situations, which are determined by analysing the sentiment of the individuals involved and the specific scenarios that arise.

Handling negative feedback: It is an important skill, and it’s crucial to address negative feedback in a diplomatic manner. Display your progress or steps taken so that your positive resolutions can be seen by others.

User-generated content: This refers to any type of content that is created and shared by users on various platforms. This can include text, images, videos, reviews, comments, and more. This can include asking audiences to rate, review, and share photos or videos of their positive experiences.

Advocacy & Loyalty: Businesses should want to highlight and celebrate customers who love their brand and recommend them on social media. Provide special benefits to customers that do this through loyalty programmes.

You can easily get personalised assistance by staying connected on messaging channels like WhatsApp. Please ensure that the contact details for the social care team are clearly displayed on websites and profiles.

Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing is such a popular way for brands to increase their reach. By partnering with industry experts, popular figures, celebrities and professional content creators, you can create valuable partnerships that bring new people to your business.

Influencers can help you to promote your business and its products and services in many ways. From mentioning your business name, reviewing your products or services in a positive light, tagging you in posts they create, or by them sharing specific posts that you have provided for them to use in a targeted way.

When selecting an influencer to work with, it’s imperative that their audience aligns with yours. You’re essentially piggy backing onto their existing popularity to try and put your business name in front of new people that have already shown an interest in other businesses, topics, or trends that match what you do.

Tracking Performance through Analytics

There is no point in posting at random times with content that is made up on the spot. To leverage social media well, you need to track its performance and analyse what is and isn’t working.

To know what is working, you must approach social media marketing with defined goals that you can assess your performance against. For example; you might want to grow your following by 5% every year. You might want to achieve a 10% click through rate to your website on your posts or a 3% conversion rate for social media sales.

Whatever your goal, there are plenty of ways to track performance:

  • Impressions
  • Reach
  • Clicks
  • Shares
  • Hashtag uses
  • Conversions
  • Lead generation
  • Sales Revenue

Using these key performance indicators will allow you to understand who is engaging with you and when. This valuable information can help you to shape your future social media efforts by scheduling posts to go out at the times you know your audience are online and most engaged for example.

Google Analytics can also link to your social media game to provide instant notifications when people contact your sales team via social media or sign up for a trial for example.

Finally

Leveraging social media platforms for business success forms a key part of most businesses’ marketing plans. Knowing who to engage with, when, why and how, are all key aspects of getting the most from social media for business.

Whichever platform you use, you should make use of the tools available to you for researching your target audience, using data driven content plans, providing excellent customer service, and optimising your work from analytics feedback.

Whilst there will always be new social media platforms breaking into the market, it’s important to find the right balance between maintaining a presence where your audience is, and trying new platforms.

The content you share should always align with your brand’s core objectives, values and visual identity, whilst aiming to prioritise your customers wants and needs.

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