Using social media as a business tool can puzzle many SMEs. Typically they use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Google+ as a consumer so setup a company profile, write a few posts and then realise that they're competitors are doing far better with astronomical follower numbers.
Instead of getting disheartened and abandoning social media all together, it is important to understand why this is happening and put things right.
Social media is far too powerful to ignore and once a position of influence is reached, companies will have a valuable direct connection with their customers, suppliers and partners.
Often, especially in the case of the big brands, there is a dedicated team tasked with optimising that companies social media marketing. This can make you think you are fighting a loosing battle but it is not the case. If you are willing to put in a little effort SME can get great results too.
1. Give yourself a headstart
There's a myth about social media which says, all you need do is create a profile and huge follower numbers will fall from the sky. Not true. Unless you are Scarlett Johansson. SMEs should not be averse to advertising their new profiles to give them a real headstart. The large social networks have new very low cost options starting at only a few pounds per day. You can target people by interests and some only charge when a user actually clicks through to your page.
TIP: If your budget doesn't extend to paid advertising, at least let people know about your new profiles. Add a link to them on your website and in your email signature. If you regularly send out client notification emails or an email newsletter, put a link in the footer - ideally with a great strapline accompanying them. It worked for hotmail.
2. Don't overthink your posts
Social media posts do not need to win any pulitzer prizes. Too many people overthink what they want to say and end up saying nothing. Do not do this. But, don't be too pushy either. Another mistake companies make is being too sales orientated with their updates. Every post does not have to talk about how fantastic you are. Treat social media like any other engagement, you wouldn't constantly bang on about how great you are whilst networking face-to-face so don't do it online.
TIP: Make your posts a mix about who you are, what you do and what makes you great. Join in conversations, chat to people and get to know them. If it's Twitter, get to know the hashtags for your business area, if it's LinkedIn look for any specific groups you could contribute in. Hopefully, you will raise your profile to the point that when someone does need your service, they know who you are.
3. Find your niche
Niches work online. You don't have to have millions of followers to be effective. Instead, research the influencers in your business area and engage them directly. Enjoy being small. Big corporations try to appear more personable but more often than not fail. SMEs are small, so being personable, friendly and even possibly funny - is much easier to pull off.
TIP: It is more beneficial to have 1k people talking about your brand than 10k simply liking you. Concentrate on building user engagement instead of simply followers.
4. Keep score
Use tools like Google Analytics, link shorteners like Bit.ly or Ow.ly and Hootsuite to keep track of how successful you are being. Review these results regularly. These applications can help you monitor activity about your brand and conversations from the large social networks that mention your company.
TIP: These tools take alot of the guess work out of social media. By focusing on what is successful, you will be able to make informed choices and grow your audience faster.
5. Treat it with respect
The days of leaving responsibility for social media to the office intern are long gone. Like all other marketing, your social media campaign strategy needs to be approved at the highest level and handled professionally. If you feel you are lacking the skills, experience or even the time to get your social media sorted in house, consider using a specialist.
TIP:A Social Media Management Service like ours can give you access to an expert at a fraction of their usual salary, if you were to employ someone with the same skillset in house. We can handle the essentials, freeing up your responsibility and allowing you to concentrate working on your business.
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