I’ve been doing social media for clients since 2007 when it all really kicked off for business in Ireland. I thought it might be helpful to summarise some of the key social media questions that I get asked by newbies starting out in the social media space.
Social Media Questions Most Asked By Irish SME’s
1.What Platform Should I Be On?
With such a wide variety of social media platforms to choose from, it’s important to choose the right ones are for your business. You don’t have to be on all things at all times. And when you’re starting out, it’s better to do one or two well, and extend your focus afterwards. The social media platforms you choose depend on what kind of business you have, what kind of customers (or other businesses) you want to reach, and how much time you have to invest in social media as a whole.
I’ve written recently about Twitter being dead, but it’s not gone yet, and for now it’s the one platform that is a must for any business, regardless of type or target customer. It’s easy to set up and very handy for promoting your brand and product (or service) to a wide audience. Twitter is great for real time conversation. You can see what members of the public are saying about your business, or about their needs and you can engage with them directly.
- Instagram and Pinterest are more image driven, and so are best for businesses that are able to provide a plethora of bold, colourful images to entice potential customers. If you’re in the business of creating things of beauty, these platforms are a must for you. For example, designers, health, fashion, beauty, all do really well on Insta and Pinterest. But I’m seeing more B2B businesses doing well on the platforms. Pinterest’s USP is the longevity of the links. You can put something up on Pinterest and it will keep referring to your website for months afterwards.
- LinkedIn is especially useful for business to business (B2B) activities. You can’t not be on LinkedIn for business. There have been great developments lately with LinkedIn. I recommend you get your LinkedIn profile in order, and then start to publish on Pulse.
- Facebook and Snapchat are currently more for B2C (business to customer) focused businesses, but watch this space because Facebook wants to own the Internet! If you’re in the B2C space, make sure you keep an eye on Facebook reviews that your customers leave on your Page.
2.Does Social Media Work for B2B?
Social media works for B2B businesses if you choose the right platforms and use them effectively. LinkedIn is especially useful for reaching and engaging with other businesses and their staff members. It is crucial to make good use of LinkedIn Pulse and the tools that exist to up your sharing on the platform. Keep an eye out for LinkedIn Profinder which will be launching in Europe soon (unless the Microsoft deal puts that on hold).
If you’re a B2B business, your social media strategy should be focused on thought leadership. You need to present yourself as a leader and expert in your field, providing valuable content to other businesses and showing that you have the potential to grow and develop valuable new ideas.
The way to do this is to focus on your content. What information does your business produce that is of interest to your audience? Plan to publish systematically and put out more visual content including infographics, reports, ebooks or case studies. If possible include video in your content mix. This is the graph that is being most shared around my networks this week:
3. How Can I Measure Results?
I love it when a potential client asks me this question, because it shows the right approach to social media. It’s not about likes, follows, and being on the hottest platform of the moment. It’s about setting objectives that are matched to your business goals, and then keeping track of how well your social media efforts are working to achieve those goals. With social, it tends to be about engagement, and that is not a bad thing – because social media enables businesses to engage with their customers in a very real way that was previously not possible before.
All bar one (Snapchat) of the platforms offer reporting and analytics so you can see how many visits, likes and shares you have received recently, and how those stats have been changing over time. There are also lots of third party apps that you can use to keep track of your social media reach and growth across platforms.
But I believe a more sensible social media strategy should be measured on goals that are relevant to your business, and not be dependent on platform specific measures… such as RT, and likes. If your social media activity is bringing leads to your website, and on that site you can capture email addresses, that really is far more useful than likes. With that in mind, Google Analytics is your key tool for seeing how well your social media strategy is encouraging customers to visit your main website or store.
4. What About Ads?
All the major social media platforms provide opportunities for targeted advertising. Taking advantage of this costs money but a necessity in this day in age. If you attempt to ‘do social’ without having an ad budget (or indeed a content creation budget), you’re just wasting your time. Another slide that is doing the rounds right now is the Facebook organic reach one. It used to be that organic reach was about 6% and oh how we raised our arms in the air in protest at this. Now it’s dropped to about 1%. So there! You have got to have money for ads.
Before paying for an ad to be promoted, test it on your social media first to see if it gets a positive response. Once you begin to pay for targeted advertising, make sure to change your ads frequently to make sure customers don’t begin to find them boring. Different social networks work promotion in different ways. Facebook allows you to pay in order to boost your posts. Twitter has promoted posts which are targeted to likely customers. Whereas on Twitter you pay based on engagement, on Facebook you tend to pay per impression.
5. And Budgets?
You’ve got to approach social media in the same way as you’d approach any other marketing channel. You don’t expect to run a trade fair marketing strategy for free do you? Nope. You need to invest in your materials and assets, and there are costs associated with just being there. Similarly, you’d never dream of asking your PR Consultant or Ad Agency to be creative and work for free, it’s the same with social – sometimes even more so. We are always on, thinking about your projects, checking and testing tiny micro elements to make sure you are getting the biggest bang for your buck and that any real time opportunity to dive into conversations is not overlooked. And at all times, wherever possible, we are being humorous.
When considering your social media budget for 2017, make sure to allocate some money for:
- Content production: graphics, videos, writing time on posts
- Ad costs: I’d be recommending a minimum monthly budget of €300
- Social media management: whether it’s your staff doing it, or you hire someone like us who can do it quicker, better, and more efficiently.
If you want to engage with customers and other businesses to make your own business grow, social media is the place to be. The benefits are well established. It’s not too late to join in. Take the advice we’ve given here in answer to the top five social media questions, devise a strategy, and get started on getting your business out there as a social media success.
If you would like to have a conversation about how to get started with social media, or how to ramp up your activity in a more results-focused professional way, do get in touch. We are passionate about all things social, and we exist to serve and help people like you!
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