A Guide to Using Social Media for your Small Business

For any small business, whether operating on or offline, social media is an incredible tool.

In an age where your audience is increasingly online, it is a necessity to provide your businesses with an online social presence.

Social media can give your business the advantage, follow our 8 step guide to mastering social media for your business and see how you can benefit.

1. Connecting with your local community online

Typically, small businesses focus on a local level either for the duration of the business's life cycle or before turning to focus on a national or regional level.

Whilst foucsing on your local market, social media can be an essential tool to connect with your local community.

Consider joining local groups on Facebook relevant to your business. For example, if you are selling baby products or services, join a local Facebook Mum's group or if you offer gardening services, join a Facebook group for garden lovers.

A relatively new feature of Facebook is the ability for users to recommend a business that they have shared a positive experience with in their local area. Ask your current customers if they would consider providing a recommendation for your business on Facebook.

Choosing which social media platform to use to target your local audience can depend on what your business does. If you operate a business where taking pictures for social media daily is easy, then Instagram should be your focus. If you like to write content then Facebook can be a good focus.

2. Creating trust online

As consumers use social media more and more to find a business to serve their needs, the expectation to see that they have a social media presence has also risen.

When businesses put themselves out there on social media in almost any form, it also opens the doors for both positive and negative feedback.

There can be a misconception that if a business is not on social media of any kind, they do not wish for direct online feedback that is readily available for all to see.

The ability to interact on such an immediate and personal level, for free, with both current and potential customers also creates a layer of trust.

In a world where instant gratification and responsiveness is more and more expected, responding to those customers as quickly as possible provides them with an assurance that your business is inline with their direct wants and needs at the time.

It also shows potential customers how much you value your existing customers and therefore providing them with trust in your brand before they've used your services.

3. Keeping relevant and fresh to your audience

There are lots of ways to use social media to keep your business presence there fresh.

By posting regularly on the popular social media platforms, you increase your brand awareness within your target audience.

Remember, the content you share with your audience doesn't necessarily have to be your own. Simply "sharing" a relevant Facebook post that you believe your audience will appreciate is another way to keep content fresh and current.

Similarly, "reposting" an interesting or relevant picture on Instagram is another way to connect to your audience.

Try posting pictures of customers using your service (asking their permission first) to showcase your business in action. It also serves as a good way to show potential new customers what you are currently offering if your website does not list any new services you offer.

4. Partner with influencers

Social influencers are users on any social media platform with a large following, along with often having proved credibility within a certain industry.

Partnering with a social influencer can be a way to quickly build trust online to a large audience that yourprofile doesn't currently benefit from.

If you do work with a social influencer, make sure you work on your message beforehand. You need your influencer to showcase your brand and properly promote why your buisness provides a solution to their current problems. If they don't understand your products or services properly then they won't convey the correct message online.

The cost of partnering with a social influencer can vary but it is usually one of two options. The first is to offer your influencer free services that your business offers. The second, and increasinly more popular, is payment. This ranges depending on the influencer's following on various social media platforms.

Becoming associated with influencers can also improve your SEO (search engine optimisation) ranking when searches are made by potential customers.

5. Becoming "viral"

As users of social media begin to like, comment on, and share your social posts, your content is exposed to new audiences as their friends and followers also see the content. Becoming viral builds on this simple concept.

As users share and like your content with their friends and followers, and they in turn like and share. Your content can then spread across the internet, getting thousands or potentially even millions of shares and therefore becoming viral.

This brand awareness is particularly beneficial to your business because the new shares, views, comments and likes build awareness.

If a follower of your business shares or likes a post or picture, a mutual friend on social media or follower may be tempted to check out what you have to say, even if that new follower has never heard of your business before.

We live in a world where content is readily available on any device and social media platform so taking advantage of a new thirst for content can be essential for your business.

Becoming viral is not easy, of course, but without social media it would be next to impossible.