Take 10: How to turn your business social

Quick and simple ways to boost your business in just 10 minutes

For the third in our Take 10 series, we’re looking at how you can win business using social media.

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What do we mean by social media?

Websites where users create and share content or participate in social networking, for example Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Google+.

Social media can help you acquire new customers

Social media websites, like Facebook and Twitter, have been around for over a decade and have become a key way for many businesses to promote their products and acquire new customers.

Facebook, for example, adds 500,000 new users every day so you can be fairly confident that a proportion of your target audience will have an account and will be logging on for business or pleasure.

Where are your customers

Before getting started, ask yourself which website your target audience is likely to use. We’d suggest you start small, trying out which social media platform works best for your product and then as you gain confidence (and content!) focus your efforts on one or two. You’ll quickly find yourself in a free soapbox from which to promote your business and it’ll become part of your marketing strategy.

Top tip: Facebook have created a handy short video showing you how to setup a business page in a matter of minutes. You can also find out how to sign up to Twitter here.

What is right for your business

It is also important to consider what is right for your business. Pinterest, for example, might be great for a business with attractive products, like a clothing retailer, but is unlikely to be relevant for an accountancy firm. Don’t forget, however, that the most important part is being where your customers are, so even if a platform works really well for your business, but not your customers then it’s unlikely to be right.

Best practice

To promote the best experience for users on social media, many platforms have rules that customise a ‘News Feed’ based on the likelihood that the user will engage with a post.

This means to guarantee your posts are seen by your target audience you need to make them engaging. To give your post the best chance, we’ve put together a couple of quick tips:

  • Keep your message concise: you only have a moment to catch people’s attention!
  • Attach an image: to ensure your post takes up more area on page (real estate) and is eye-catching
  • Calendar hooks: tie your post into a key date or relevant event that your audience may find interesting
  • Tag others: link to other businesses in your post, if applicable, to increase your exposure

How many times a week should I post to guarantee success?

There isn’t a magic number of times that you should be posting, it’s more important to make sure your posts are engaging for your audience. You want to post enough so your customers don’t forget about you, whilst not posting too much to appear ‘spammy’.

The frequency and type of posts can depend on the website you’re using. In our experience:

  • Facebook is best for posting blogs, running competitions or promoting business and industry news
  • Twitter is great for interacting with your customers in real time by joining relevant conversations and finding trending topics. It can also be a good place to post blog content
  • We’d suggest trying something different on Instagram, for example giving your customers an insight into the company through ‘behind-the-scenes’ photos. Instagram users are often less interested in reading longer blogs and press releases

Top tip: for best results, customise your posts and approach depending on the social media website you’re using.

Social media data can help you understand and target potential customers

One of the biggest benefits for your business is the data social media captures about your customers. Facebook, for example, will allow you to target specific groups of ‘prospective’ users through their audience targeting features. You do have to pay for this service, but even with small budgets this can be hugely valuable. We’ll be talking more about this in more detail in our next Take 10 instalment!

Keep track of your activity in one place

As your social media presence increases, and you find yourself posting across a number of social media websites, you may need some help in managing this. Here’s a couple of tracking websites we think do this best:

  • Hootsuite: schedule and report across three social media websites for free
  • SproutSocial: manage, schedule, report and optimise across a number of social media websites. Prices start at about £44 per month

We hope you’ve found this post useful. Come back for the next instalment of Take 10, where we look at the benefits of paying for adverts on social media.

The Funding Circle team

Rob McCorquodale