There are many opinions of social media which can vary from either end of the spectrum. For me it is already proving invaluable in making new contacts and bringing me business but like any marketing tool you need to have a clear plan and focus for it to be effective.
Firstly do you use a variety of platforms or concentrate primarily on 1 or 2? The answer I would say is what tools are your prospective customers using and where are they most likely to find you?For a visual business Instagram is worth considering but for a business where photographs are not easily generated this would not be the most relevant platform.
LinkedIn is still the most widely used professional social media tool but don't just put up a profile accept connection requests and sit back and wait. Like any social media it must be used interactively and proactively. Add connections from networking events, join relevant groups and engage in the discussions on these. Posting articles regularly will also raise your profile and standing but make them interesting and not a sales pitch.
Twitter is proving most effective for my business at the moment but it is fast moving and engaging in conversations is a must. Be friendly and let your personality come across after all people buy people. Tweets including pictures are far more noticeable. Many areas have a dedicated hour for business chat once a week and it is well worth participating in these for example hampshire Hour and Torbay Hour. Don't forget to retweet, like and comment on other people's posts too.
Hashtags are absolutely vital - unless someone is constantly watching a feed your posts can go unnoticed. Use relevant phrases, locations and events. Piggy back on national days that are relevant to you. For example if you are a vet then anything relating to animals using the national hashtag will be seen.
Photographs - my pet hate is going to a social media profile and finding a photo of the person's dog/cat/baby. This is your online CV and must show people who you are. Many recruiters use LinkedIn and other social sites to headhunt and as a previous employer I would always vet the social media feeds for potential staff before interviewing so just stop and think about not only what you post but also what you share as the content is deemed to be condoned by you so a piece full of profanities is probably not what you want a prospective client to judge you on.
Social media can become addictive so set out some dedicated time to manage your feeds and use scheduling tools such as Hootsuite to send tweets when you want without needing to be glued to your tablet or phone 24/7. Try to have a balance between real time engagement and planned posts and measure your success against the time spent on it.
Finally should you consider outsourcing your social media? In some cases this can work extremely well but choose the supplier carefully. There are so many out there who claim to be able to manage your feed but when you look at their own social media platforms they are sparsely populated, don't use hashtags, have very few followers etc. if they cannot manage their own feeds then they are probably not the best fit to manage your business messages either!
So in conclusion social media can be a very good business tool generating profile, leads and business but make sure you have a plan and stick to it to reap the maximum benefit from the time you spend on it.
To discuss any issues relating to social media you can call Maureen on 07717 130226 for a no obligation chat
Maureen Frost has spent the last 21 years working within Chambers of Commerce helping businesses of all shapes and sizes. Now taking the opportunity to branch out into self employment and recently moved to Devon with her partner.