What are your feelings on social media for business? That it’s a waste of time? Are you too busy to give it attention? Maybe you’re not really sure how to use it or whether you’re doing the right thing? Or you’re not convinced it translates into leads and sales?

Whatever your feelings, I’m afraid it’s here to stay. More and more customers expect to find you on social media; having no presence at all can mean a missed opportunity. A company profile with little branding or company information or with a last post dating back to 2011 can be just as damaging.

SEO critical

Search engines are constantly tweaking the way they assess websites to make sure that their users are accessing relevant, quality content in search results.

Social signals (endorsements, shares and comments) are a good indicator of authority and popularity so the search engines are using this information to feed into search rankings, so an effective presence is now more important than ever.

How to use social media for business

You know what your business goals are (“Sell 10% more product X in 2013”) and you know who your target customer for this product is (sector, size, location etc.).

The next step is to define specific goals for social. For example, for the business goal above it could be:

  • Number of followers who fit your target customer profile
  • E-newsletter sign ups following a post
  • Sales enquiries following a post

With your target audience and goals in mind you can start to post about things that will trigger a response e.g. about product benefits, case studies, special offers, industry news.

This is also where your content strategy comes in, as posts are not just comments or links to your website but also links to content such as videos, photos, pdf documents and presentations. (An earlier post on creating a content strategy for your business is available here).

Focus your efforts

There are many social media platforms out there and keeping active can be time consuming. To decide which one should you focus your efforts on, find out where your target customers are active.

You can do this by asking existing customers or by searching for customers and prospects on the various platforms. Having a look at what your competitors are doing is important too.

As a general guide:

  • LinkedIn – best platform for B2B, provides great direct and indirect marketing opportunities and functionality is constantly expanding e.g. company pages have followers and you can send updates out to them
  • Facebook – best platform for B2C, also offers wide range of marketing opportunities (branding, videos, photos, advertising)
  • Google+ – now has more active users than LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube. B2B adoption still slow. It’s Google’s social media platform so likely to only grow in importance
  • Twitter – for real-time interactions and relevant to both B2B and B2C
  • Pinterest – platform for images and photos, has a mostly female audience in their twenties to forties. B2C

You can also link up platforms, for example Twitter and facebook, so that whatever you post on one will show on the other. This can be helpful if you’d like to have a presence on a platform but don’t want to use up extra time and resource keeping it active.

Putting a schedule together can help you organise your social media presence. With information on events coming up, special offers for the week, content ready for promotion and so on you can plan out who, what and when you will be posting.

By monitoring results (with Google Analytics traffic reports and link analysis tools such as bit.ly for example) you can analyse which platforms and posts were most successful and build changes and improvements into your plans.

Enjoy the benefits of social media with help from The Artlab. If you’re interested in social media strategy and training services please contact us on 0161 875 2528.