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Over the past decade social media has completely changed the way we live our lives. It’s become so integrated with our day-to-day activities that it’s hard to think of a world without it. Not only does it provide us with a platform to connect with people from all over the world, it’s also become a primary source for real-time news, industry-leading information, gaming, webinars, online collaborations, and even shopping.

With so many people already connected and social platforms constantly increasing and improving their offerings, it doesn’t seem like it’ll be going away any time soon.

Read on to discover how you can utilise the power of social media to boost your brand awareness, customer relations and online presence.

So, what is social media?

Have you ever “followed” a brand on Instagram and found yourself marvelling at how consistent their page looks? That’s not a coincidence. Social Media Marketing is using the power of various, individual social platforms to get your audience and would-be customers to engage with your brand.

A lot of businesses meticulously plan and curate their online content to appeal to their target audience. Whether that’s taking and editing photos to create a seamless Instagram page, or posting big giveaways on their Facebook. It’s very rare that successful businesses do their social media on a whim.

Colour palettes, branding and “tone of voice” are all things that should be considered when posting from a business account, but first, let’s start with some basics.

What are the benefits of using social media marketing for my business?

Smart businesses know just how valuable good social media marketing is. Over the past few years social media has really impacted the way we market our businesses.

It allows your brand to communicate directly with customers and build long-term trust and community online. Not only can you attract new customers and gain new followers, you can appeal to existing customers too and create repeat business.

It’s also important to maintain and update your social media accounts as your competitors will also be online trying to win these customers too. As most social media platforms are free to use, it seems like a no-brainer to be using them to your advantage.

1. Use social media to build your presence online
Social media is a great way to get your business seen online. By creating accurate profiles and using the right hashtags you can gain followers and see a rise in likes, shares and comments.

Not only will this help you attract a wider audience, you should also see an increase in your website traffic from the links you’ve provided in social posts and in the ‘bio’ part of your respective online profiles.

2. Use Social Media to generate awareness and new leads for your business
Competitions: Competitions are a great way to attract new people to your social media page. There are numerous ways of running competitions online and you might choose to run the same competition across all your social media channels or create a different prize for each platform you use.

For instance, if you were a restaurant, you may choose to run a competition to win a meal for two and ask followers to enter the competition by leaving a comment on the post tagging in who they’d bring. This means followers may tag in people who don’t necessarily follow you, exposing your business to a new audience.

Go live on social media channels: You could run a giveaway, host a Q&A or do a “how to” video. Be sure to promote the event before it happens so people know when to tune in. Instagram offers the opportunity for two accounts to go live together, this could be a great way of teaming up with another business to “share” followers.

Some businesses even run combined giveaways, where each business donates a prize and customers get entered into the competition by following each account and commenting on the prize post/sharing it to their stories.

Add website links on your social posts: If you’re posting about your business, it’s always a good idea to include your website link (linking to a relevant page is even better). This boosts your site traffic and also gives you another way of seeing what your followers are engaging with online.

Is there a difference between personal and business social media accounts?

When you’re creating posts for your business the content should be a little more refined than it would be on a personal account.

On your personal social channels you may choose to post pictures from nights out and family holidays, share your personal opinions and write statuses without rigorously spell-checking your posts.

When it comes to your business account you should be a bit more disciplined. Spelling and punctuation should be the best they can possibly be; if this isn’t a strength of yours try asking a colleague or family member to double-check it for you.

You should also strive to keep the content and style of your business accounts more professional. Selfies, offensive memes and long rants are probably all things you’ll want to steer clear of.

However, that’s not to say business accounts have to be serious and monotonous, you’ll just need to work on developing both your brand voice and tone.

These form a major part of your online presence. Essentially your voice is the consistent message and attitude that you want to communicate online and the tone is how you’ll go about doing it. The tone you use online will vary from platform to platform, as you’ll be speaking to different audiences with different preferences for consuming content.

If more than one person will be posting from your social media accounts, be sure to agree on a set of “do’s and don’ts” to keep your voice and tone consistent, regardless of who’s posting.

Once you start posting you’ll begin to realise that social media is constantly evolving and the way that you communicate will evolve too. Above all, have a bit of fun with your content.

How can I use social media to market my business?

Whilst there is no rule that states you shouldn’t jump right in and start posting, you may not get the best results (or even be able to measure your efforts) if you don’t plan how you’re going to utilise social media for your business.

So before you start posting, it’s worth aiming to have a clear plan for the following:

Decide what social platforms will be worthwhile for your business

With so many social media platforms available it may seem like an impossible task to create enough content to cover them all.

It’s important to identify which social media channels are right for your business (Include link to these blogs: Which Social Media Channels are Right for Your Business?).

Your buyer personas can also help you decide which platforms are best for you. Consider what social media websites your target audience are most likely to be using and make those your priority.

You may think that the more places your brand is visible, the more likely you are to be seen, but if your brand isn’t relevant to the audience your speaking to then you’re not going to see the results from your efforts.

Here’s an overview of the top social media channels you might want to consider.

Facebook

Users: over 2.6 billion monthly active users (Statista, 2020)

What is it? Currently the most popular social media platform. It’s a fantastic platform to showcase all the important information on your business.

Pros: Great for building brand awareness. Posts can include images, video text and links. It’s also introduced a feature that supports eCommerce. LINK TO BLOG: Facebook Shops: The New Feature that Supports eCommerce

Cons: Not widely trusted by users.

Twitter

Users: 166 million daily active users (Statista, 2020)

What is it? Ultimately it’s a micro-blogging platform that is a great way of live-tracking current events.

Pros: Great for sharing news and content, perfect for brands that blog a lot. Good for customer relations.

Cons: Posts have limited character availability, limited to four photos per tweet.

Instagram

Users: 1 billion monthly active users (Statista 2018)

What is it?
A photo-sharing app that has people posting perfectly curated moments. From flat whites to flat lays, it’s a platform for the visually inclined.

Pros: Has the option to add “shoppable” posts, Instagram stories are a good way of interacting with followers. Recently introduced a ‘Reels’ function to rival TikTok’s platform, giving your business another way to reach new audiences on Instagram.

Cons: You can’t add links to regular posts, so it’s not the best for driving traffic to your website. However, there is a way around this if you add a “link tree” to your bio to provide a way for customers to find relevant links.

LinkedIn

Users: 260 million+ monthly active users.(Kinsta, 2020)

What is it?
It’s a social media platform centred around professional networking and career development. It provides opportunity to interact with other businesses in your industry and reach out to those who may require your services.

Pros: Great for industry-related news. Useful for prospecting and recruiting.

Cons: You’re unlikely to build up a following of potential customers here.

Youtube

Users: 2 million monthly active users. (Statista 2019)

What is it?
A video-centric platform. Users can upload/watch videos and interact by commenting, liking and sharing.

Pros: Great for creatively showcasing/reviewing products, or creating demonstrations and “how to’s”. Followers are more likely to engage with video content.

Cons: Can be resource intensive, so sometimes it’s not an ideal use of time for small businesses.

Snapchat

Users: 360 million monthly active users (WeAreSocial, 2019)

What is it?
A multimedia messaging app. Users can send “snaps” (a picture or a short video) which ultimately self-destruct after they are viewed. Or upload to their story feed.

Pros: Less advertising competition so you’re more likely to be seen. The option to create a geo-filter is great for site-specific events.

Cons:
Snapchat is used for showcasing stories and behind the scenes content so It’s not a platform that will benefit every business.

Tiktok
Users: 800 million monthly active users (Hootsuite, 2020)

What is it?
An app designed for creating and sharing short videos. Users often participate in viral challenges, such as dances or miming to songs. It is particularly popular with Gen-Z users.

Pros: It was the most downloaded app of Q1 2020, participating in challenges can be a way to showcase a fun side to your business.

Cons:
It’s an app where camera-phone footage is the preferred format. It requires a fair bit of time and effort to create content or complete “challenges”, so it may be seen as too time consuming to be of any benefit.

Pinterest
Users: 367 million monthly active users (as of 2020 Q1)

What is it? A website/app which acts as an online “pin-board”. Users can create separate pin-boards for different topics (e.g “recipes” or “DIY”) and then create “pins” which contain images and links relative to that topic.

Pros: Has the option to create “buyable” pins. Great for visual brands. “pins” have a longer lifespan than posts on other social media sites.

Cons: High level of duplicated/low quality content may mean your posts get lost amongst it.

2. Create a social media strategy

A social media strategy helps you organise and measure your marketing efforts, it should be reviewed and refined as your business grows. There are a variety of steps you can take to ensure you’re getting the most out of your social media marketing and to make it a more manageable task for your business.

3. Plan out your social media campaigns

Social media campaigns will feed into your strategy. Campaigns often have a more focused goal, like advertising a sale event, a new product or offer.

A campaign can consist of organic posts (those that are done without paying to boost the post’s performance) or paid-for social media advertising.

What is paid-for social advertising?

If you‘re looking to expand your reach on social media, then paid for advertising can help you with this.

Social media ads give you the ability to reach an audience beyond your current set of followers. Often these platforms will allow you to create a target audience based on demographics, interests etc, this is great for ensuring your adverts are relevant to the people viewing them.

These adverts are served or “promoted” on social feeds, often sandwiched between posts of other accounts you follow.

Most social platforms will offer their own version of social advertising and the cost will vary depending on what you choose.

If you’re looking to get started with social media advertising or are already running social ads but would like to save time and money then it’s worth taking a look at LOCALiQ social ads.

Resources and tools to help improve your social media marketing

Useful social media tools

Hootsuite: Allows you to conveniently manage your social media accounts in one place and schedule posts.

Tweetdeck: Twitter-specific platform to schedule tweets, monitor hashtags and responses to your content.

HubSpot’s National Holiday Guide: A guide to the national and international holidays. Great for creating content for your schedule.

UnSplash: Free, quality stock images to enhance your social posts.

Canva: A free tool that allows you to design content for social posts.

Social Media Marketing Courses

If you want to take your social media marketing knowledge to the next level then why not consider taking an online course in social media?

These courses are often free and easy to fit in around any current commitments. If you’re looking for some options our guide to the best free social media courses is a great place to start.

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