Social media and SME’s are forming a bond that is only rivalled by the relationship between a customer and their favourite brand. Often businesses seem to have social media nailed down and have an audience who jump at everything they post about – it looks effortless. The real story is, like anything that appears to run seamlessly, it’s probably a result of good research and hard-work. At Digital 24 we want to help brands grow their online following, but we also want to help new online brands find their digital voice and reach their online audience.
To help we’ve answered some of the most frequently asked questions by small businesses online. Some may seem straightforward but read through and see what’s in it for you.
Where should I post? What social media channels should I use?
There is always a temptation just to open accounts on every platform regardless of what industry you are in, and this is a bad idea. Instead, find where your audience is online and go there. Facebook is very often considered a staple in your digital diet, Twitter can be a great way to start meaningful conversations with your audience and LinkedIn is the no.1 B2B platform.
Try searching your key phrases and relevant hashtags to discover the most relevant platforms. It’s also good to see where your competitors are, but never assume they are getting it right.
What should I post online?
Firstly, it’s your industry – you know it, and if you’ve dealt with your customers on a face to face level, you have a huge advantage. If you know your customers’ questions, try to answer them online. If your main blog topics are FAQs, then you are beginning to place yourself at the right end of a search query. You should also branch out and use news pieces, trending content and other third-party pieces to expand your reach.
If there is a hot topic surrounding your industry or an area other brands are neglecting, consider tackling those issues. If you can safely discuss price or issues in your wider industry, you may be a lone voice, but in the long term, it could help build consumer confidence. This dangerous strategy was created/expanded on by Marcus Sheridan, and the results were fantastic.
How do I grow my following?
When you see brands around you boasting hundreds, thousands or more followers, it can seem daunting. Don’t become a social media ostrich and bury your head, and hope nothing will change when you resurface. Instead, set out to answer a few questions, identify relevant hashtags and begin posting. If you are new to social media, you are at an advantage in that there are new design tools and content options. Even your toughest competitor will be adjusting to constant changes on platforms; this means you need just to begin putting the hours in and improving.
Online it would be nice to say good content is rewarded organically (without spending money) but changes throughout 2017 changed this. Fantastic content is sometimes rewarded if you have a strong social following, but good content may need a boost to get the traction you feel it deserves.
How do I handle reviews online?
Share, share, share….positive reviews. For others, you need to take note of the person posting it and engage them through private messaging. If you feel your conversation is going nowhere, then end it. Even private messages between you and unhappy customers will be poured out online if they’re annoyed. Failure to respond will never make a bad review go away, but there is an argument for blocking people who look to negatively target your business.
Facebook, Instagram and Twitter all allow you to block trolls and if you wish to take it a step further, you can report posts/tweets to the platform.
Is social media a free selling tool?
No. Social media even in its infancy was never free, because you must spend time monitoring and responding to comments. As previously mentioned, social media companies are increasingly encouraging you to invest in your posts with clear CTA (calls-to-action). If you simply try to reach people organically, you may not get the same reach from your posts as you would have had a year ago.
Social media will allow you to reach a wider audience and do business in a more fast-paced, mobile setting, but it is not a freebie. You may also want to be honest about your online business hours, setting yourself to open 24 hours per day may cause distress and disappoint customers in other time zones. For help managing social media accounts or establishing an online presence, contact Digital 24 for an online audit and see what we can do for you.