How to use social media for your business

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Over a decade in, it can be difficult to summarise the weighty machine that social media has become, and even harder to discern how and why we use it. For businesses, the purpose has always mainly been to find and interact with existing and potential customers, establishing an online space where anyone anywhere in the world can discover your brand and see the most recent things you’ve got going on. Posting on social media is like shining your business through a digital prism.

We hear a lot of business owners say they feel they’re too late to the game, and we don’t blame them. Twitter was a calm lake you could dip your toe into back in 2007. Now it’s a relentless river rapid, and diving in can feel impossible. That’s where people like us come in — we’ve had clients join social media relatively late, within the past 12 months, and reap bountiful rewards.

Customers expect you to be present on at least one social media platform, and even if you don’t use all of them, focusing on one and doing really well on that one site is vitally important.

Here’s why.

Driving traffic to your website and beefing up your search engine ranking

Hit the right note when sharing content from your website to your social media spaces and you’ll quickly notice between 70% and 80% of your traffic coming from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and the like. We’ve seen it happen for TLMedia and many of our clients.

A 2018 Global Digital suite of reports from We Are Social and Hootsuite revealed that over half the population of the planet are now using the internet, and around three-billion of these people are now using social media in some form, with nine in 10 of those users accessing their chosen platforms via mobile devices.

It’s more important than ever that you utilise these free social media platforms to promote your business, and more importantly, to promote your business story to new and existing customers. This will help increase your authority around your industry and in turn help to increase your business’ profit line.

This blog post is written with the assumption that you’ve already set up some social media accounts, but are struggling to know how to use them with consistency, and aren’t sure what content to create and share.

If you’re just starting out and haven’t even registered with any social media platforms yet, then take a look at some of our other articles about first stages of setting up.

What sort of content should you be creating?

So you’ve registered a Facebook Business account, and you’ve used Facebook for some years now through your personal account to chat to friends, share your thoughts, show some shots of that amazing lasagne you were so proud of, show off your kids’ achievements, and post hundreds of memes to help express your emotions.

But that’s not what you should be sharing on your business account, is it?

Well, the answer is probably no, but you do need to keep your personality evident when posting as your business. Find your voice and introduce an element of humour to your content. By doing that, you’ll help to increase engagement on the platforms as users start to interact with you and in turn share your content as you establish trust and knowledge.

Tell your story on social media

It’s not ‘social media’ without the ‘social’ — your followers want to see what you’re up to!

Just created the perfect recipe for a cocktail you’ve been working on for months? Taken delivery of some new products that you think will help the end user? Won an award? Got a great customer review? Moved premises? Found a blog post or news article that you think your followers might like? These are all things that you should be posting on your social media streams and sharing with existing and potentially new customers.

It’ll help to show that you’re a real person and not just a masked voice behind the keyboard.

Whilst sharing this sort of content, be sure to use natural text and wording. If you try to create content that isn’t in your ‘voice’ or that is too automated, social media users will find it hard to relate to you, and ultimately won’t engage with your content.

Personally, I love to see a business owner walking their dog before heading to the office, snapping an excited picture from their car before heading to a trade show, unboxing some new products in their shop, and providing useful content that I can somehow use to enhance my own business.

Share what you’re doing, interact, and reap the benefits.

Share customer reviews

Just had a client tell you that they couldn’t have sold their house without your help? That your bread was the best in the city? That your product was the best time-saving thing they’ve ever found? Your happy customers are the gateway to untapped future revenue.

Nothing works better in business than word of mouth — people will trust what others are saying about you, especially if they’re connected via social media. Create impactful images with customer quotes overlaid: take a picture of your bread and slap the positive quote over the top.

There are hundreds of easy-to-use mobile apps that will help you do this easily — and, of course, there’s a design studio called TLMedia just a phone call or email away ready to help you with your social media graphics!

Ask a customer to record a short 10- to 15-second review on their phone about your product or service, and how it helped them/how they enjoyed it. If they’re in your business premises and can’t stop talking to you about how much you’ve helped or how much they love your product, whip out your phone and film them saying it. These DO NOT need to be polished pictures and videos — just get the positivity out there for all to find.

Geotagging

Make sure that you’re tagging locations on your posts. This works especially well on Instagram and Instagram Stories, as the app actually allows users to search and follow specific locations, helping you get your content discovered more easily by potential customers.

When posting to Twitter and Facebook, do the same: geotag. On Facebook especially, there are loads of areas where Facebook will filter content to users based on location. For example, if you own a café in Portsmouth and someone visiting the area wants to try to find a nice cafe to visit on their trip they could search ‘portsmouth’ and ‘cafe’ as terms. You’re content may appear, they see a picture of one of your amazing cakes and decide to pay to a visit, result!

Ask questions and contribute to conversations

Algorithms are looking for conversations, shares, retweets, engagement, and what’s trending. As an example, if you own a shop that specialises in beer and homebrewing and are an expert on these subjects, search for conversations surrounding these subjects. This will work especially well on Twitter and Instagram — use the search options on the respective platforms to find like-minded people interested posting about your favourite topics.

For the beer example, you could put in the search terms ‘homebrew’ or ‘craft ale’, look through the results, and find other accounts that are posting images or comments surrounding these themes and start interacting with the accounts. If one has posted a picture of an ale that you stock, tell them how much you also love that ale, but offer an alternative that you think that person would really love! And tag the brewery in the tweet.

Make sure you’re being sincere — this isn’t an opportunity for you to go in with the hard sell, but it is an ideal opportunity for you to build relationships and offer your expect advice. If you do this well and with real authority then the users you interact with will start to follow you, and if you’re lucky enough, they’ll become interested in buying your products.

Don’t always share the same content across all platforms

Automation systems like Tweetbot and Hootsuite are excellent for planning and scheduling your content but you should never use them to automatically ‘push’ the same content simultaneously across all platforms at once. Why? Firstly, it’ll make you look lazy, and secondly, your content needs to be tailored for each platform you're communicating on.

Experiment and learn what the best practice is for each platform. The voice you use on Instagram should be tailored for Instagram, and the same goes for the voice you use on Twitter or Facebook. On Twitter, it’s acceptable to add a few hashtags under your text content to aid discovery, but copy and pasting this text onto Facebook, for example, isn’t always the correct thing to do.

Know the optimum sizes for images and suitable aspect ratios for videos on each platform. Watch how the successful accounts are posting their content, and try to emulate what they’re doing, but in your own voice and business sector.

If you can, use Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram at the very least. Vastly different audiences use different social media apps, so you’ll be cutting down potential engagement if you only use one platform. But if you can’t keep up with all three, focus on doing one really well.

Join some local or national groups surrounding your interests

Facebook groups are fantastic for engaging with potential customers, but you’ll have to be incredibly careful about how you approach this. If you go into the groups like a bull in a china shop you’re likely to alienate the other members, and maybe even get removed. Again, it’s about using your knowledge to benefit others.

As an example members of our team at TLMedia participate in groups that are relevant to our field, event-themed groups, business groups, and media groups, such as local photography communities on Facebook. We offer advice, join in chats, and throw in the occasional article from TLMedia website that we feel will offer some benefit to the other members.

Whilst doing this, the team are not only enjoying themselves while chatting with like-minded people — they’re also building authority within the group. Another bonus is that this participation and two-way-street approach to giving back to the group is a natural showcase of our abilities, so we’ll be a first port of call for filmmaking, websites, or branding.

The exact opposite of this is diving in from a one-sided vantage point and immediately trying to sell yourself to a group without adding any benefit. As mentioned, this often leads to bans.

How much content should you post?

This is something to experiment with over time, and hugely depends on your business sector. As a guide, we’d recommend posting a bare minimum of once per day over all platforms you’re using, and just be conscious about posting too much to the point where you’re spamming the platforms. This will just deter users from following you, and could even lead to them blocking or muting you to avoid your content.

As an example, it’s perfectly fine to fire off a succession of tweets throughout the day, letting people know what you’re up to, engaging in conversations, posting up pictures of your lunch, showing followers what you’re doing in the office, and saying goodbye at the end of the day.

In contrast, if you were to post between six and 10 images on Instagram in a single day, you’d probably be seen as a bit of a spammer, and could find that people won’t follow your account for fear of being overloaded with your content.

How we can help

At TLMedia, we work with businesses from the outside on a consultancy basis or from the inside by taking their social media streams forward on their behalf. If you need face-to-face advice on getting started or a team to lead your content for you, don’t hesitate to contact us.

In the meantime, have a go at putting some of these pointers Into practice, and get back to us about how you get on. And, of course, if you’ve got any advice for us based on your own experiences with social media management, we’d love to hear your stories.

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