Social media users UK 2015. Graphic by Carlos Monteiro

Social media users 2015. Graphic by Carlos Monteiro

We all know how important social media has become to running a successful business, and a recent LinkedIn study has revealed that just over 80% of small to medium sized businesses use it as a promotional tool.

Time can be a precious commodity to a small business, especially if you are running it with a very small and dedicated team of people, or even operating as a sole-trader. The time allocated towards social media promotions has to be effective, or else it will simply be time wasted that would be better spent elsewhere within the business.

The problem that faces a small business owner is having a strategic approach that will prove effective, because attracting plenty of likes and shares does not always result in an increase in your sales. Social media trends are an ever-shifting target, so makes it even harder to pin down a single sales and marketing strategy that consistently works every time.

Small business owners also worry that they are not doing enough promotion via social media sites, and with so many platforms to choose from, they can often target too many sites and spread themselves too thinly to be effective on any single platform.

If you are becoming a little overwhelmed with your social media efforts, then these tips may help you to focus, and to re-evaluate your time to spend it more effectively.

Back to basics:

When you started up your business, where did you begin? Was it in your garden shed? A spare bedroom? Your kitchen? A home office? No matter where you started from, your started small right? You began something tiny and you built it up over time.

This principle holds true for building your business band on social media too. When you started out you didn’t run out and hire a huge business premises, or rent out several empty high street shops. This is why you should never jump in and flood every social media platform available all at the same time either.

Depending on the type of business you run, you have to consider which social media site would suit your style the best. Very visually stimulating businesses such as fashion, shoes, clothing, and cake design for example, would do very well on Facebook and Pinterest to start with. Once these channels have become well established, then you can consider extending your reach by including Twitter and YouTube. The idea is to not spread yourself too thinly – you don’t have to be active on every single social media site out there!

Build it and they will come – maybe?

Getting yourself established on social media takes more than just signing up for an account. Just because you are there does not mean that people will naturally flock to you.

To attract people you need to be consistent. What brings people to your page and keeps them entertained are regular and interesting posts. Even if you have a very limited time budget allocated towards social media, try to aim for at least one good post per day on Facebook and your other main social media site, whichever that one is. If you are expanding into LinkedIn, then you can afford to do a weekly post that sums up your activity over the past 7 days.

You don’t need to allow yourself to drown in the social media sea, just having a paddle every day will be enough to make it a habit, but keep in mind that everything you post should be of high quality and value to engage your followers.

If you cannot do it, assign it to someone that can:

You may feel uncomfortable or out of place on social media, so rather than struggle to produce mediocre posts that are not hitting the mark, find someone from within your staff that could do the job better. You may well have your very own social media guru sitting on reception, or working in the parts department in a pair of overalls.

You could even have regular meet-ups where your staff brain-storm ideas for your next hash-tag promotion, or come up with ideas for a fun and engaging competition.

Think outside the box:

Even though you are in business to make money, your social media posts will not work if they are pure sales copy. To engage and delight your followers you need to think creatively. Hook onto hot topics in the news or trends that are buzzing on social media.

Be daring with your posts, but not inappropriate. Include your staff by posting photographs of them doing amusing things that you can hash-tag back to your brand. There is a current trend at the moment for the ‘what colour is this dress’ phenomenon where a black and blue dress can be seen as white and gold by a lot of people. You could have pictures of your staff in red dresses arguing over colours, for example.

Share your content across all platforms:

This is an important time-saver, especially where you have limited staff resources to dedicate to your promotions. Cross-posting is an easy way to ensure you are increasing your activity on all your social media sites without having to dedicate hours to creating content each day.

Be present:

Although you may think you are doing enough by posting some fresh content every day, you will also need to have social media presence to let your followers know that you are a real person, and can respond quickly to comments and questions, or to solve problems that may arise with customers.

Good customer relationships will encourage positive feedback, and will result in your followers being more willing to like and share your content with their own social circles.

Hopefully these simple tips will help you manage your social media promotions to make them easier and smoother.

Leave a comment about what you do to make your time more effective.