Social media for business

Tue 27th Aug 2013

I often work on websites for start up and small businesses and the topic of social media is always raised. Used properly social media can be a great free tool to market your business and engage with customer and potential new customers. While I am not an expert in social media, I can talk about my own experiences, both as a business and as a potential customer using various social media.

Facebook Business Pages

Facebook is by far the largest of all the social media tools available to businesses and individuals. It's very simple to use, you can have a business page up and running in minutes, you can upload your logo, cover picture and images and post comments and articles to your timeline. If you keep your business page active you are more likely to gain more likes and consequently interact with more people. You can use Facebook to promote special offers, company news, show photos of recent projects or events you've attended and links to your website when you add new content such as news or galleries.

Twitter

Twitter can take a bit of getting used to, but the basis of it is very simple. Twitter in its simplest form is a mini news feed. You can post status updates of up to 140 characters, attaching photos and links as you go. You follow people and/or companies that interest you and you can interact with them either by replying to their Tweets or sending a tweet to their Twitter handle (name).

My favourite thing about Twitter is that you can access and use it from your smartphone from just about anywhere, so you can snap a photo of an event you are at and share it with your followers. Twitter is a great free tool that your business can take advantage of to make your business look active and approachable.

Linkedin

Linkedin is similar to Facebook but aimed at business. It has a much more corporate setup and is more geared to having a business profile a bit like an online CV rather than a personal page like Facebook. You can have a personal account, make connections (friends, colleagues etc.) and add a business page. On LinkedIn you can join business networks which put you in contact with lots of associated businesses.

Pinterest

The least well known of the social media networks I have mentioned. Pinterest is an image based social media so it lends itself most to creative and design based businesses such as the fashion industry, designers of all types, artists, gardeners and much more. You can create boards (galleries), assign them to categories and add images to them. Other users can 'repin' your images onto their boards but you are still credited as the origin of the image (like 'sharing' an image on Facebook).

Make social media work for you

The main concern is the time it will take to administer all three social networks. Social media provides a great free tool to engage with your customers (and potential customers), by bringing a bit of personality and accessibility to your company. Once set up correctly, social media accounts don't need to take up much of your time. You will probably find that one particular social media suits you and your business more than the others, if so update that once a day and call in on the others once a week or every other week.

Remember that it will take time to build up a following on any of the social media you use, for a while it might fell as if you are talking into a void, but persevere, nobody will follow an account that does looks empty and does nothing and as with other aspects of your business it will grow if you put a little time into it.

In summary social media provides a great free tool for your business to increase your online presence, look active and up to date. It’s simple to use and once set up correctly it takes up very little of your time. My advice would be to get involved and put links to your facebook, twitter and linkedin account on your website. You might as well, its free!

by Rachel Watson