How to use social media for business: 7 tips for success
This article was originally published in April 2020 and was updated in October 2022.
For most of us, social media is a part of life. And when you know how, it can also be a powerful tool for promoting your business and attracting customers. From what to post about, to which platform to choose, here’s a few tips to help you connect with customers using social media.
1. Create a clear message
Unlike personal posts, business posts need a little more thought. Think of it as a virtual billboard, seen by thousands of potential customers. This is your opportunity to stand out from your competitors. Get it wrong, and you’ll stand out for all the wrong reasons.
That’s why it’s important to spend the time to create a consistent, professional message to guide your social media approach and content. Defining your biggest strength – and how it helps your customers – is a good place to start.
Let’s say you’re a handy person. You fix things well for a fair price. But every handy person does that, right? You need to dig deeper to find something unique for customers. Perhaps it’s free quotes. Maybe you’re friendly and local. Or you guarantee to show up on time – or your money back.
2. Update your page
If you don’t post messages regularly, people are simply going to drop off. It can be as simple as before-and-after pics of a job, helpful tips or a testimonial from a happy client.
Whatever it is, make sure there’s something in it for your customers.
It’s also a good idea to post a variety of messages. Special offers, tips, videos, staff profiles, new products or services and customer testimonials can all promote your business. See what your competitors are doing for inspiration and try something different.
3. Stay professional
Since you probably use social media for personal use, it can be easy to fall into the trap of posting personal stuff onto your business page. Your business page should be strictly business. No family photos. No holiday selfies. No rants if you’ve had a bad day. Save that for your friends and family.
Before you post anything, check for typos and ensure it makes sense. If you can run it past a colleague before posting – even better.
4. Promote special offers
While it’s great to be busy, most small businesses face peaks and troughs. When things are quiet, a special offer is a great way to drum up work. And there’s no easier way to get the message out there than a social post.
Make your offer clear and compelling, and add a sense of urgency to encourage people to get in touch straight away. Don’t forget a call to action to let people know how to take up your offer. For example, you could try something like ‘20% discount until 30 April. Places limited – book now by calling 04XX XXX XXX.’
5. Choose your platform
So you’ve got your message right, but which platform do you use? Facebook? Instagram? LinkedIn? Twitter? It largely comes down to your type of business. When you’re starting out, it’s best to choose one platform, then when you’re confident you can branch out to others.
If you work in trades, hospitality or fitness, Facebook might be a good option. Everyone knows how to use it, and it offers you a good balance of imagery and text. It also has the added benefit of being shared on local community pages. To make the most of Facebook, read these tips.
It’s no secret that Instagram is the holy grail for influencers. With its large-format visual interface, Instagram is perfect for showcasing products, in food, fashion, design and more. It’s also great for videos. Keep text to a minimum and use hashtags that relate to your business. See more tips on Instagram.
For professional service businesses like accounting, marketing, consulting and recruiting, LinkedIn is a good place to start. Before you create your profile, take a look at the businesses you admire, and get more tips from LinkedIn.
Other social platforms worth consideration:
Most social platforms offer paid ads which give your business more prominence. If you’re interested in going down this path, check out details online or contact the platform’s business rep.
6. Respond to customer comments
Customer comments on a business’s social page and review platforms can be good and bad. That’s why it’s important to respond to comments very carefully – especially complaints.
If a customer complains about your business, it can help to reply with something diplomatic like “We’re sorry to hear that. We’ll look into this and send you a private message to work out a solution.” That way you can potentially solve the problem, and customers will see a response that shows you care.
Of course, it’s wonderful to receive compliments. A simple ‘Thank you’ or ‘We look forward to seeing you again’ could turn a happy customer into a loyal fan.
7. Consider SEO and Google Ads
Already have a website? While social posts can generate some traffic, SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is your key to attracting customers that are actively looking for your service.
Think of the last time you were looking at buying something. There’s a pretty good chance you jumped on Google. SEO is all about getting you on the first page of Google where people can find you. An SEO copywriter has the skills to help you rank highly to attract new customers. It could be the best money you’ve ever spent.
Paid Google Ads can put your business even further up the search page and give you more prospects. If you want to get serious about promoting your brand on social media, it might be worth hiring a professional.
A social media editor can help you write and design professional posts. Or to step things up a notch, a community manager can create regular posts for you and, if you choose, respond to customer comments. This is great if you don’t have the time or skills.
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