The latest Sensis Social Media Report has revealed some interesting insights into the relationship between businesses and consumers on social media. Of the more than 2 million SMEs in Australia, only about 47% have an active social media presence. Now while this has increased in the last couple of years, from 38% in 2015, there is still a huge gap between the number of small businesses and their consumers on social media! Almost eight in 10 people (79%) in Australia now use social media, which is 10 points higher than last year.
This means that your target audience will more than likely be active on some sort of social platform. If you haven’t already taken your business on to social media or you’re looking to ramp up your business’ social presence, then now is definitely the time. Using the data from the Sensis 2017 Social Media Report, we’ve put together some quick tips to help you maximise your small business social media:
Step One: Strategise!
No point running in blind, right? Strategy is an important part of social media, particularly if your business is only diving in for the first time. This is a crucial step that many SMEs tend to overlook, with only 40% of small businesses and 43% of medium businesses having any kind of social strategy at all. (Compare that with a whopping 90% of larger businesses). Your social media strategy doesn’t have to be intricate or complex, but it pays to have one nevertheless. It should answer basic questions such as: Who is the target audience? How are you going to engage them? What kind of content are you going to produce? And what tone of voice are you going to convey? Consistency is key across all aspects of your social strategy; make sure it integrates into your existing marketing strategy.
Focus Your Efforts
The last thing you want to be doing is managing 15 different social accounts – don’t create extra work for yourself. Being actively involved on all social media platforms is just unrealistic, so, get smart and consolidate your accounts. Facebook is a pretty safe place to start, with 94% of all active social media users on the platform. Visual platforms continue to grow in popularity, with Instagram seeing a 15-point jump in users (from 31% to 46%). Snapchat saw the biggest growth, with usage almost doubling from 22% to 40% this year. Twitter has also seen a surge in usage, up from 19% to 32%.
A platform’s user volume shouldn’t be the sole reason for creating your business’ social profile (that being said, with 1.3 billion users worldwide, every business should have a Facebook presence). Consider the pros and cons of each platform. If you run a café for example, your business is probably going to get more out of Instagram than LinkedIn just given the nature of the platforms. Also consider the demographic of users on each of the platforms and target accordingly. For example, 81% of 18 to 29-year-olds are active on Instagram, compared to just 16% of 50 to 64-year-olds. Whereas a quarter of all 50 to 69-year-olds are active on LinkedIn compared with only 10% of 18 to 29-year-olds. Identify who your target demographic is and jump onto the appropriate social platform.
Resist the Urge to Automate
With over a third of people (35%) now checking social media more than five times a day, it can be very tempting to set up automated posting for your own accounts. Resist! The human element of social media is one of its most appealing features. Giving customers and clients a personal connection and establishing positive relationships is invaluable to your business. Don’t over-automate your social posting to the point where it feels robotic!
That being said, you don’t have to completely forgo any kind of social media management. There are plenty of applications like Hootsuite and Buffer that can help you manage your business’ social media by reviewing content and scheduling posts. You can also find tools that help track what is being said about your business online. If you’re not sure where to start it could be worth talking to a digital marketing specialist to point you in the right direction.
Keep It Interactive
Interacting with your online customers through social media is a great way to foster brand trust. Almost two-thirds of consumers said that they are more likely to trust a brand if it interacts positively on social media. Starting conversations and responding to messages are great ways to create buzz around your brand and a huge opportunity for your business to build positive relationships with new and existing customers.
The flip side of this user interactivity is that you are inevitably going to get some not-so-positive feedback. You have to be prepared for customers to raise tough issues or give bad reviews, in these cases do not ignore them. This can be an opportunity for you to address concerns or complaints and give relevant and engaging content to your customers, maybe even win over some new ones in the process.
Keep Your Content Engaging
Much easier said than done I know. Consumers are becoming more and more engaged with the brands and businesses they follow. Although a large number are interested in discounts and giveaways, there are still a fair percentage of consumers who look to the businesses or brands they follow for a variety of content.
While there is definitely value in offering your followers exclusive offers and giveaways, there is also a lot of desire from consumers for a mixture of other content! About one-third of consumers are looking to businesses for product information while 20% are interested in tips and advice and 22% are want you to invite them to events! Keeping your content appealing, engaging and varied will keep your consumers interested and have them coming back for more!
Measure Your Results
Finally, don’t let all your hard work go to waste! Make sure you know the effects your social media channels are having on your business. Less than a quarter of SMEs measure ROI from social media. While spending on social varies from business to business and the overall average budgets are relatively low, business owners should still know what’s working and what’s not!
Determine what you want to get out of your social media and track figures accordingly – whether its likes, new followers, shares or something more intricate like clicks, applications or online sales. Applications like Buffer have built in tools to track all the basics across your social media platforms, but if you want some more in-depth analytics you’ll probably have to look elsewhere.