Planning makes it easier
You don’t need to replicate what big companies are doing in social media, but you should plan your approach, or get expert help to do so.
Even if it’s just over your lunch break once a fortnight, make time to think about all the potential conversations you could have with your customers.
Write some short notes on the conversations you think will appeal to most of your customers and sketch some ideas for how you’ll share them.
You don’t need to create new content each day, but you should check your social media channels a few times a day in case you need to answer any questions from people.
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Be your (best) self
I’ve seen a few small business owners struggle with the distinction between ‘me as an individual’ and ‘me as a representative of my business’ on social media. You should keep your personal social media activities very separate from your business activities.
Whatever you do online or offline, think about how it would be perceived if it ended up being reported in the news media. The most important is this: be lawful. Always stop and think about how what you share publicly will affect your business’s reputation.
Yes, people might vent about your business on social media. But if people reach out for help, acknowledge the positives and address the negatives.
Ignore the trolls, but look for the opportunities to demonstrate what your business really stands for – and own it. The biggest turn-off on social media is not responding to posts.
A common mistake businesses make is spreading themselves too thin across social channels, and failing to connect well with customers in any of them. You’re likely to do a lot better if you pick one or two social channels most popular with your target audience:
- Choose YouTube, Snapchat and/or Instagram for audiences that want images to see what you’re up to, particularly younger people
- Pinterest attracts people who like to curate inspiring images
- A blog is a good way to share ideas with peers and colleagues
- Choose LinkedIn to build networks with peers and potential clients, and step up to Google+ if you’re also targeting larger businesses
- Twitter suits public conversations, from announcements to problem solving with customers
- Facebook is a casual way to connect with almost everyone, but mix up the type of content
When to post:
The 80:20 rule, where 80 per cent of posts are social and 20 per cent are offers or products, is a popular Facebook strategy. Post 1–4 times a week. Posts at 1pm get the most shares and at 3pm the most clicks.
For Twitter, a general guide is that early mornings are best for views and clicks, and evenings are best for retweets and likes.
For Linkedin, the current thinking is a 4:1:1 ratio for posts: for every one self-promoting post, re-share one relevant post and post four pieces of relevant content by other people. Post on workdays between 11am and 5pm.
For Instagram, the trend is to post at least once a week. If your audience works full-time, post in the morning, at lunch and after work.