Did you know that there are 45 million active social media users in the UK? And According to Facebook Audience Insights, there are 35-40 million active monthly users on Facebook. And interestingly, there are 24 million active users on Instagram with 80% of users following a business, 27 million LinkedIn profile in the UK and 13.6 million on Twitter. Growing rapidly is TikTok with the highest level of downloads in 2019, surpassing that of Facebook and Instagram.
How social media is helping businesses to grow
Social media has helped small businesses to communicate with audiences like never before and do so relatively cheaply, enabling them to compete on a level playing field with companies that bigger marketing budgets. But there are still some businesses that don’t see the potential benefits that can be gained from it.
Many businesses benefit from driving traffic from social to a website, but there are still plenty of businesses that use platforms such as Facebook and Instagram without the need for a website. Take a small beauty salon for example – they can add their list of treatments on Facebook and allow a booking facility or integrate other apps like Phorest, Schedul or Booksy.
It’s never too late – here are our top tips to get started
- First things first – make a plan. It’s no good posting on social once a month. You need to post interesting and relevant content regularly, and knowing what to post and when will help. Think about the things that are relevant to your business and start creating content around what you want your audience to know about you.
- Before and after pictures – this is relevant to so many different industries, whether you’re a builder, gardener, electrician or hairdresser, show casing your talents will not only communicate what you do, but show how good you are.
- More Pictures…and videos. Pictures are proven to engage more than just words alone. But videos outperform photos in terms of reach. So if you can, create video content and share – but make sure it’s of decent quality as you’ll want to promote your brand in the best possible way.
- Interact with your audience – most platforms offer a way to interact with your audiences, whether it’s live chats on Facebook, Instagram or TikTok, voting polls on Facebook or a Q&A on Instagram stories. It’s a great way to get to know what your audience want to know. You can then tailor content for the following days or weeks from the live events or Q&A’s sessions.
- Customer or client testimonials or reviews – we’ve already talked about sharing what your business does, but sharing what others think can also be a great way to convince people to find out more or buy from you.
- Promotions and competitions – whether you’re looking to grow your followers, increase your page engagement or get rid of unwanted stock, competitions and promotions are something that every business should be doing periodically. But make sure you track how it’s performing to see if it’s something you want to do in the future.
- Industry news and updates – of course, this needs to be interesting and relevant to your existing and potential followers. For example, if you’re an accountant, sharing budget update with your followers might be relevant, but international dog week might not.
- Connect with other local businesses – if you’ve built up a network of contacts in your local areas, work together to share each other’s content. One thing that we’ve done here at A-Plan to work with and support local businesses, is to create a community noticeboard in our high street branches. We’ve then shared this on social media, which helps other businesses to get some exposure.
- Find local Facebook community groups – lots of towns and villages have their own community groups which allow local businesses to promote what they do. By identifying these, you can start to expand into new areas and with audiences that may not previously have heard of you. They’re also particularly useful for when people are looking for recommendations i.e. for a local plumber or electrician.
Taking it to the next level
If you’re already doing the above maybe you need to expand out further to grow your followers and engage with more people.
- Use paid ads – you can select the audience you want to target, whether that’s locally or nationwide. This allows you to reach more people, but it will cost you money. You can set parameters around how much you want to spend and will be able to analyse this on your Facebook account. This will allow you to monitor, learn and tweak your future ads.
- Make sure you’re interacting with your followers, if they’re commenting on posts, try to comment back or acknowledge their comment. This will help your followers feel more connected to your brand.
- Responding to negative comments. Consider what platform you’re using and how the negative feedback has been given i.e. is it people just commenting on the post, or is it a specific customer or client that is dissatisfied with the product or service. Think about how you can resolve quickly without getting into further debates or conversations in a public space.
- Use hashtags – if you’re a regular on Instagram, don’t hashtag in the main post as it’ll detract from your message. Instead, add the hashtags in the comments. By using hashtags, you’ll be able to pick up new followers that are looking for specific content. Don’t limit yourself on how many to use, but keep it relevant to the post or what you’re trying to promote.
- Influencers – you can either start to build a relationship with influencers by commenting and sharing their content, but if you’ve got the budget to do it, you could work with an influencer to review or promote your product to help you reach new audiences
- Craft content based on the platform – if you’ve got people following you on Instagram and Facebook, seeing your posts twice can become a little boring. So consider posting different content on Instagram to Facebook.
- Use more platforms – If you’ve previously just stuck to LinkedIn or Facebook, you might want to consider expanding onto different platforms. This will largely depend on your product or service and your demographic – you might need to consider more video content through YouTube or TikTok. But if you’ve already got a significant following on one platform and growth has plateaued, it might be time to do something new.