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How to Get Started with Social Media for Business

Posted on the 15 July 2015 by Discerningdigital @DigiDiscern

The role of social media in your marketing mix is one that continues to grow with no sign of slowing down. While many businesses now appreciate the importance of maintaining a social presence, it’s clear that many businesses also struggle to integrate social media into their sales and marketing strategies, beyond the occasional update.
The truth is that social media is an important channel to generate leads for your business and communicate directly with your customers and prospects. In this blog, we've got expert advice to help you do just this.

Do I Really Need to Have a Social Presence?

74% of online adults use social networks regularly - HubSpot

The short answer is, if you want to talk to prospective customers and influence buyer behaviour, then yes.
With the rising popularity of smartphones and mobile devices, customers have more technology in their hands than ever before. As a result they have become more discerning and empowered, conducting their own online evaluation on your products and services before making any kind of contact with your sales team.

Your presence on social networks is now an important factor in this decision making process.

“Over 70% of B2B purchase decision makers use social media to help them decide’
- Dell

There’s also the added incentive that search engines are increasingly factoring social context into search results - Google in particular uses social impact as an important ranking signal. If your website has many Facebook likes, is tweeted about, or shared on Google+, the search engine concludes that it is probably high quality, and it is likely to rank well.

Social Media Setup and Best Practice

Understanding all the great reasons why you should invest in social media is one thing, but beginning the journey to practically set your accounts up is another. What networks should you be on? How often should you post? What do you do if you receive complaints via a social network?
We’ve asked social media and community manager Ben Stroud for his invaluable insight gained from years of running and analysing social accounts for TES, Guardian Media Group Radio and the Ministry of Sound.

Get Started with Social Media for Business
So what’s best practice when it comes to setting up social media accounts?
“My advice when setting up social media accounts is always to keep it simple.
“If you're setting up a social media account for the first time as a small-to-medium business, the key is to act strategically whenever possible. Your time and your resources are finite, and you need to be dedicating time to actually getting the business off the ground.
“Sit down and think about what you want to get out of your social media presence.
"I would suggest a mix of offers, relevant content from your industry (regardless of whether its yours or not) and promotions, all underpinned by customer service. Like it or not, if you are on social media, you are in customer service.
How many accounts should a business have?
“I would recommend, as a bare minimum:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google+ for Business

“Start small and scale up. That way, you can dedicate time to the platforms that you are using, and ensure social is not becoming the sole focus of your business. Your bottom line will improve as a result of this if you commit to two or three platforms, as opposed to just one.
“Pick the platforms that you know and think that your audience is on.
“Next, get smart about how you share your content. Look at using a social media management tool like Hootsuite, Buffer or Sprout Social. These platforms have a fine selection of free and paid options, and will allow you to schedule posts to go out at the optimum time.
Who should have access to the accounts?
“I would always recommend that the best people to have a hand in the social media for your business are the people who have 'skin in the game' - people who are incentivised to get results for your business.
“Social media is no longer a medium that you can leave to an unpaid intern or your cousin's best friend - it's a crowded marketplace full of potential consumers, and you have to have your best shoes and business hat on at all times.
In your experience, what are the most common barriers to success for businesses?
“Time is the one resource that you can't buy more of so manage your time on social media effectively so that you can balance it with your core business goals. Find out when your audience is online (using a handy tool like Followerwonk, from Moz), and schedule your posts for then.
“Fear. Many people are so scared on social media of making a mistake, and with good reason. For every person praising Virgin Media or Tesco Mobile's bold approach to customer service, there's somebody giving a rocket to another brand for being insensitive. Guess which one happens more often.
“It may feel like everybody is watching you on social media, and as someone who has run their fair share of 100k+ accounts, I can attest that it can feel that way on a daily basis, but don't let that fear color your engagement with social media.
What’s your number one piece of advice?
“One of the main learnings I’ve taken from previous work is about getting the tone of your responses to your audience right. I’ve found that companies, particularly from a customer service perspective, can be a bit tone-deaf at times.
“Try and make the tone of the message match the tone and severity of the query. Save the jokes for when things are fixed. Be friendly, be professional, and above all follow-up - don’t wait for a customer to tell you when something is fixed.”

Follow Ben on Twitter or connect with him on Linkedin.

Social Media and Your Business

Social media should form a vital part of your overall marketing and sales activities and can help you build vital relationships just as prospects are evaluating you. 

Social networks can also help populate your sales funnel with pre-qualified leads - leads looking for businesses like yours. Grab our free guide to driving lead generation online to get started.
Do you think businesses are using social to its fullest? Do you have learnings to add?

30 Ways to Drive Lead Generation Online

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