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The small business guide to social media
The small business guide to social media 21
The small business
guide to social media
Enhancing your brand and building your online presenceThe small business guide to social media
Contents Throughout this guide you’ll find tips from our experts.
Sharing ideas is part of what makes social media so
valuable, so we’ve given other business owners the
3. Social media 101
opportunity to share advice about how they run social
media in their company, and what they have learnt.
4. Which social network is right for your business
6. Managing your social media accounts
8. Customer service and social media
9. Should you build your own network
Gemma Went has experience across Charlie Mullins left school at 15 with no
11. Big companies’ highs and lows
entertainment, brands, FMCG, B2B and qualifications. Starting out with a second
small businesses. With a background hand van and a bag of tools, he has built
in psychology and a keen interest in Pimlico Plumbers into the UK’s first
human behaviour, she’s helped numerous branded plumbing company with 200
businesses successfully adopt social media. sta, 1 ff 60 vehicles and a £20m turnover.
Follow Gemma Follow CharlieThe small business guide to social media
Social media 101
Sarah Arrow of sarkemedia.com gives the lowdown on social media.
Social media marketing involves using social media sites as part of your online
marketing strategy. The sites, like Facebook and Twier tt , are often huge and they oer a ff
great way to reach your target market, deliver your marketing message, and find out what
your audience truly love. It’s powerful as a research tool and as a customer service tool, it’s
not just for marketing. Remember, no one goes onto a social site thinking ‘I wonder what
great oer ff s are going to be selected for me today...’
There are two popular ways to use social media sites in your marketing:
1. P ost content or links to content on your social media prol fi e such as blog posts, pictures, videos or any
other multimedia and let it spark a conversation.
2. Place ads on social media sites using their ad networks. You would use ads to reach a wider audience and
generate more conversations and interaction than you could organically when starting out. Over time
you’ll find the conversations relating to your content need less advertising and become more engaging
because your audience know where you are.
What social media marketing can do for your business
Any business whatsoever can benet f fi rom social media marketing, especially local businesses. Geographic
features on social media sites make it particularly easy for people in your area to find your prol fi e through
searches. I love this aspect of Twier tt , as I can easily search for local people to talk to and follow.
You can oer d ff eals and promotions through your prol fi e that are exclusive to your fans. Using social media
prol fi es this way is similar to using your email list. You can increase their loyalty to your brand by oer ff ing
exclusive bonuses and exclusive content. In Andy Sernowitz’s book ‘Word of Mouth Marketing’ he talks about
creating exclusive content just for fans. Social media is a brilliant way of stoking your word of mouth marketing
activity (and I recommend the book highly).The small business guide to social media
The advantages of social media marketing The disadvantages of social media
How small businesses
Social media marketing allows you to interact directly with your customers and potential To use social media ee ff ctively requires constant maintenance. For each page or prol fi e
use social media
customers. It adds a personal touch to online communications that’s unrivalled by other that you make, you’ll need to set aside time for updating and interacting with your fans.
online marketing methods when did a newspaper ad last make you feel welcome When For many small businesses, this quickly becomes a bit much to keep up with.
people feel like they can interact with you in a more direct way, it engenders loyalty and
Since your social media prol fi e isn’t actually your own site, you have to abide by somebody
else’s rules. There are certain actions that can get you penalised or banned from social
Using social media sites also allows you to reach a wider audience. You have access to not media sites, and you run the risk of changes in algorithms or site policies undoing all your
only your fans but your fans’ friends. On sites like Facebook, whenever your fans interact hard work. You social media activity must drive trac b ffi ack to something you own like
with you, their friends see that interaction as well. We are all curious about our friends’ your website or your email list.
likes and dislikes, so more people get to know your business.
Another drawback is that you don’t have total control of your content. If someone leaves
think social media is
Because your customers can contact you easily through social media sites, you can get a nasty comment or insult in your blog comments, you can delete it. You can’t do this on
a worthwhile use of valuable
valuable feedback and learn more about your target market. You can look at your fans’ your Twier f tt eed. But before you break into a cold sweat, you can block people and you
time for their business
prol fi es and find out what they’re interested in. This is the kind of data that marketing can respond politely to trolls – killing them with kindness is the only way. It’s hard, but it’s
r fi ms have paid huge sums of money for in years gone by. achievable.
You also get search benet fi s by using these popular social sites. When optimised correctly
How to get the most out of social media marketing for your business
your social prol fi es appear in search results. Social media sites give you an existing
It may sound like a lot of work monitoring your prol fi es, but it’s well worth it. Many
platform that already has millions of users.
businesses find that it’s a fun and enjoyable daily task.
The real key to success is to keep your involvement social. Don’t create your prol fi e and
content and then wait for the fans and comments to roll in. Be proactive. Get out there
and make friends. Comment on other people’s prol fi es and join groups for increased
visibility. This brands you as a friendly person with your own distinct personality that
42 still do not
people will want to get to know beer tt .
use social mediaThe small business guide to social media
Networks for building relationships:
Which social network is
right for your business
Facebook Google+ Twitter LinkedIn
Choosing the right social network is important if
Most people know this site. This network is the second most Twie tt r is a microblogging LinkedIn has been described as
you’re going to reach your audience. With over 120
It’s hardly surprising, as it’s the popular. There is the option for platform, where you have Facebook for business. It allows
social networks to choose from and more appearing
biggest social network based Google+ business pages, which 140 characters to share your you to share your job history
all the time, how do you know where to be on global reach and total active similar to having a Facebook message. but it’s also ee ff ctive in allowing
users. page for your business. your business to build its prol fi e
• 18 of internet users are on
and network by gei tt ng involved
Finding the right network is all about understanding
• 1.3 billion active users that’s • 540 million active users in Twie tt r it has 271 million
45 of people on the internet 2014 active users
your customers and knowing where they are. Here’s
• 187 million active users
a quick overview of the main social media sites:
• 45 of Internet users aged • 2 2 of online adults use the • H alf of Twier tt ’s unique
65+ use Facebook site each month visitors are under 35 years old • Twothirds are older than 35
• Average time on the site is • 4 2 use Google+ to interact • 500 million Tweets are sent
6.75 hours per month with a brand’s content each day
• G oogle+ generates as much
interaction as Facebook and
twice as much as Twier ttThe small business guide to social media
Networks for sharing content:
Pinterest YouTube Vine Instagram Tumblr Slideshare
This network works well for With video estimated to account for If you like your videos shorter, Vine Instagram is a photo sharing Tumblr is a microblogging platform, This site allows you to post
businesses that have visual content 69 of all internet trac b ffi y 2017, it’s is the way to go. At just 6 seconds, platform, launched in October 2010. which allows users to post images presentations, infographics and
to share, although it’s also good if no wonder YouTube is so popular. these microvideos are often shared It has recently introduced video and shorter text pieces. It is firmly documents. While presentations
you have a blog and use images for on other social channels like Twier tt . functionality, which allows users to aimed at the youth market with the are the most posted type of content,
• More than 1 billion unique visitors
your pieces. post 15second videos on the site. top 10 Tumblr tags being lol, fashion, infographics are liked 5 times more
each month • Vine has 40 million users in total
food, art, vintage, landscape, frequently.
• 70 million active monthly users • 20 0 million users, 50 million of
tao tt os, black and white, makeup,
• O ver 6 billion hours of YouTube • 5 t weets per second contain a
whom signed up in the last 6 • 60 million unique visitors
• W omen are four times more likely video watched each month Vine link
months a month on average
to be Pinterest users than men
• 6 6 of visitors under 35 and 39
• 8 3 of teenagers and 49 of • A branded Vine video is four times
• M ore than 20 billion photos have • 2 15 million page views each
• 23 of Internet users aged 50+ those in their 50s use the channel more likely to be seen than a
been shared month
use Pinterest regular branded video
• 19 9 million visitors a month
• The most popular length of a
• The most popular categories are • A mong top 120 mostvisited
• Average of 98 minutes spent on YouTube video is 31120 seconds
food, fashion and beer • U sers spend an average of 1.5 websites in the world
the site each month
hours on the site per month.
• Receives 500 more trac ffi
from business owners than
• F acebook, Twier tt , YouTube,
Choosing the right network Which media sites do SMEs use most for business
That’s a lot of social networks and not all of them will work for your business. If
you have limited resource, try to focus on one or two networks when you start.
If you’re not sure which one to choose, the best thing is to ask your customers.
31 15 37 30 7
Alternatively, carry out some online research. Head onto each social network
that you think might fit with your audience and search for your brand name,
your competitors’ names and industry terms to see how many results come
5 1 2 1 8
up. If there’s lots of conversations, it could be a good place to be.The small business guide to social media
Why do they use social media
Managing your social media accounts
Before jumping in with social media, it’s important to get some basics in place.
You also need to consider how your social media marketing fits
Sei tt ng your strategy
to increase to market their
in with the rest of the business. Social media works best when
brand awareness campaigns
One of the key things you need to decide is how you will use your
it works in conjunction with your other marketing activity so
social media presence. What you decide will ae ff ct the type of
people get a consistent view of your business.
content you post and how you measure your success. Some
common ways of using social networks include:
Think about what you want to be known for and how that could
be ree fl cted in what you post and how you write.
• Building buzz around your products or services
Consider the language you use too. Social media is very
• Increasing brand awareness
conversational so keeping your language more informal works 56
well. If that’s dier ff ent to the way you usually write, you need
• Driving more visitors to your website
to decide how that will work. Maybe you want to steer clear of
language that’s too youthful or ontrend but keep things a lil tt e
• Increasing leads
to provide product and to engage with other businesses
more informal than your usual writing.
services information and service providers
• Finding out more about your customers
and their needs
• Providing customer service
• Recruiting new talent
• Improving customer loyalty
business adviceThe small business guide to social media
social network and, for about £50, you Keep an eye on trends and see what
Check your performance Keep an eye Curating vs creating
can use the service to automatically people are talking about.
If you’re investing time in posting on Will you be creating original content
register on 25 of the most popular
social media, you need to know if it’s or curating content from elsewhere
“Think about how
Listen to what people like, what bothers
working. Once you’ve decided how you’ll It’s important to get the balance right.
much time it will
them, what questions they ask. You can
be using social media, it’s time to set Sharing other people’s content helps to
take to manage
then post when there’s relevant topics.
The importance of listening
some targets. show that you understand your market
your social media
Just be careful about what you post
Once you have your brand registered, it’s
and can help your audience by providing
channels. How much time should be
there’s nothing worst than piggybacking
These could include: time to investigate the communities that
spent on each platform Twier is a tt
a sales message onto an irrelevant news
you think you should be gei tt ng involved
fast moving channel and may require
• Number of conversions from
in. See what people post and how other While it’s great to be focused, think about
more time than, say, Facebook and
social media (both sales and other
people respond. Try to identify the most other related topics that your customers
LinkedIn. Be realistic, if it’s just two
You know your
interactions like signing up for
popular people in your area of business. might like. Ask your audience what they’d
hours a day, then ensure it’s clear
newsletters or completing online
like to see or look at what your followers
what you expect to be achieved in
forms) It’s important to understand the
post themselves. You can also ask your
etiquee o tt f each network. As Alex Truby,
users to provide their own content which
• Amount of trac g ffi enerated
consultant at social media consultancy
‘experts’ out there
you can repost. Set up a tag and ask them
Time to secure your brand
Fresh Networks, says;
who will call you up and email with
to use it to label their posts. Share the
Once you know that you’ll be using social
• N umber of conversations and amount
promises to improve your marketing
best with your network.
media, you need to register your name. It’s
“It’s often said that social media
and make you rich without knowing
best to register on each social network,
sites are like cocktail parties. You
Keeping your content fresh is important.
anything about your business. You
even if you’re not planning on using it.
• Whether you have increased brand
wouldn’t just turn up and start talking
Decide how often you’re going to post
may not be an expert on marketing
Having one name across all platforms
at people. Just listen at first and
and have a calendar in place, so you know
and PR, but you are an expert on you.”
makes it easier for people to find you and
then gradually start responding and
in advance what you’ll be posting (but
Set some clear measures and timescales.
helps you build your brand.
striking up conversations.”
keep it flexible enough to respond to
It’s best to evaluate after 23 months to
Knowem lets you run a free check to see
give your social media time to bed in and
if your brand name is available in each
grow.The small business guide to social media
• I conosquare: this service lets you monitor your Instagram
Know your Keep it friendly
Free tools to help you keep control
account to see which content people like and where your
audience and informal
users are. It also oer ff s widgets to connect your Instagram
Social media has a reputation for being
“Think about your “When engaging
account with other social media like Facebook.
audiences and do on social media,
timeconsuming. But there are tools
your research. What the best advice is
• Tweetreach: this site allows you to see how far your tweet
out there that can make the whole
do they like sharing Whether it’s cat to write as you speak. People want
travelled, who retweeted it (or a version of it) and how many
videos, infographics, white papers or to engage with people so cut out the process much more streamlined.
people received it on their timeline.
gifs, understanding this will help you business speak and speak as you
Here’s some of the best:
to develop content that will resonate would if you were face to face.”
• K lout: want to know how inu fl ential you are Klout will rank
and get results.”
you against a number of criteria for all your social media
• Ho otsuite and Tweetdeck: these services allow you to
manage your social media accounts in one place. You can
schedule posts and keep an eye on conversations.
• U RL shorteners: these help you monitor how many people
Social media is twoway, so building
are clicking on your posts. There’s a few out there, including
quality relationships should be the
• S ocial Mention: this is a free search engine that collects
Bit.ly, and Ow.ly (which Hootsuite uses).
end goal. Advocates will amplify
information from over 100 social networks, making it easy to
your message and stand up for you if
see what people are talking about.
The tools within the social media sites
something goes wrong. But you have to
earn this. Have conversations with your
Don’t forget that most networks oer s ff tatistics about
• Google Alerts: alerts make it simple to keep up to date with
followers, provide what they want and
your interactions with others and some oer d ff emographic
the latest discussions on any topic. Just set up some search
help if things go wrong. If you get this
information too. It’s den fi itely worth making use of them.
terms and receive emails when people are talking about
right, people will respond.
these topics. You decide the frequency that you’d like to be
of small businesses
spend an hour or more
• Tw ellow: if you want to find who to follow on Twier tt , this
on social media a day
site can help. It’s a directory of people on Twier tt , sorted by
expertise, profession and other ar tt ibutes.The small business guide to social media
Customer service and social media
17 expect support through Twier tt . 20 use social media to air their 47 of customers expect customer
1 in 3 users prefer contact
71 of companies who receive a grievances. (This rises to 46 for service through Facebook. Only
through social media rather
complaint through Twier ig tt nore it. those aged 24 and under) 22 of companies do this.
than the telephone.
4. D ecide how you will handle complaints. Keep responses personal
How to manage customer service on social media
If you don’t use your social
and simple. You don’t have to solve the customer’s problem on the
1. D ecide who is best placed to handle questions. You need people who
media for customer service,
social media platform (especially when you may have 140 characters).
will know the answers, are trained in customer service and preferably
Just begin the process of addressing it by asking to contact them or
then it’s likely you’re missing out
have a natural an ffi ity for social media.
passing on more information.
on providing a valuable service.
2. Set up a system for monitoring what customers say about you. It’s
5. E valuate how it went. Keep talking to the customer and ask them for
Cath Sheldon, Social Business
important to spot the conversations. People often won’t include
feedback. Check the issue is solved and take on board any ideas for
companyname but may use hashtags instead. Think about the type
Manager at Sage UK, explains how to
of terms people might use (problem, broken, rubbish, etc) and set
integrate social media into your business.
up searches for those terms and your brand name on your social
monitoring tool (like Tweetdeck or Hootsuite).
Research by Social Bakers shows that only 38 of questions posted on
3. Ha ve a process in place for responding. Know who will respond and
social media get answered and the average response time is 6.6 hours.
how this will be allocated. Set response times and make sure you’re
fast. Most social media disasters have occurred when companies are
To ensure your customer service is up to scratch, it needs to be fully
slow to respond and people feel ignored. Response times should be
integrated into your business. Social media is no longer just the domain of
much faster than email.
the marketing team, so you need to get other people involved and trained.The small business guide to social media
Should you build your own network
Are there ever times that you should
Sei tt ng up your own discussion boards can be timeconsuming
create your own networks In general,
and expensive. It’s hard to get enough trac f ffi or them to
it’s best to use existing social platforms,
be lively and empty discussion boards become a Catch22
as that is where your customers are.
situation where people won’t post because they don’t think
they’ll get a response.
But there are a couple of instances
when owning your social network
Sei tt ng up your own board is a good idea if:
• There’s a big enough or engaged enough audience to keep
Your own blog
• P eople are looking for somewhere private to discuss things,
Your blog is a place to share your views and start conversations.
away from their normal social media. This could include
It adds interest to your website and drives trac ffi . Research
things like medical conditions.
shows that B2B companies that have a blog get an average of
67 more leads.
• T here’s nowhere else to talk about these things. Competing
with other specialist discussion boards is tricky, so you need
The secret of success is to write about the things that your
to oer s ff omething unique.
audience cares about. While it may be tempting to post about
your latest products and services, your blog is beer u tt sed to
Invest time in seeding information onto the boards, ask
provide valuable information for your audience by oer ff ing
customers to start posting their questions and make sure all
advice and views and sharing information key trends. By
posts get answered quickly. Having a network of advocates
helping your readers, you’ll build a relationship with them and
who can respond shares the work and makes the board look
establish your authority. Your blog can supplement the other
busier. Most of all, give it time as discussion boards take time
information on your website.
to become established.
As with other channels, you need to set some goals. You can
If you don’t want to set up a discussion board from scratch,
measure the time people spend reading your blog or the
there are apps that allow you to integrate one into your
number of comments you receive.
Sources: Pew Internet, TechCrunch, We Are Social, Hiscox, Guardian, Vertical Response, Sage Omnibus, YouGov, Rakuten, eMarketer.com, Maritz and Evolve24, NielsenThe small business guide to social media
Big companies’ highs
about their actions, they replied with “It’s
Have a plan in place for difficult times
All of these social media
our page, we set the rules, it was ever
If you’re going through dic ffi ult times, it’s
meltdowns could have
important to speak to your social media
been easily avoided, if
team and possibly reclaim control. One
They eventually did a Uturn and said
Need some inspiration Here’s some companies
entertainment company didn’t do this
only the companies had
they would look into the issue and began
and got to see a round of redundancies
who are really making the most of social media
posting information about the subjects
thought things through.
livetweeted to the public. Ouch
and some others who need to work a bit harder at it.
We’ve removed their
Timing is everything
names to protect the
“Don’t be afraid
Twie tt r is a great way to have
to have strong
conversations with customers but you
opinions. Sure, you
need to think it through. When this
need to be careful
A Facebook disaster
energy company decided to run an Ask
what you say
Us Anything session, they started it on
Social media is all about conversations.
when the tape recorder is running
the same day they announced a 10 price
So it was clearly a bad idea when this
and, of course, not commit libel
increase. Their hashtag was overrun with
company decided that to lock down
against anyone, but sii tt ng on the
conversations and remove posts. It all
fence doesn’t earn you coverage in
started with criticism of some of their
the media. People like interesting
“My oc ffi e has a window where the sun
business practices. Instead of responding
characters who aren’t afraid to say
comes in and makes the side of my head
with information, they began removing
what they think, even when they don’t
really hot. How much do I owe you”
the posts, and said people were in breach
necessarily agree with them.”
of copyright for posting a variation of
“Have you found a way to channel angry
their logo. When people complained
customer feedback into electricity”The small business guide to social media
It’s not all bad news though. Here’s some of the
companies who have a real handle on social media.
O2 Oreo Greggs
Gei tt ng your tone of voice right can be tricky. The American brand is known for its rapid When an unfortunate logo mixup happened,
O2 is noted for gei tt ng this spot on, from using response to current events. When the Super Greggs was inundated with messages on
the same slang as their customers to diu ff sing Bowl had a blackout, the company was quick to Twie tt r alerting them to the fact that Google
a storm of customer complaints when an tweet with reassurances that “you can still dunk was showing a spoof logo alongside their
outage happened. They even managed to in the dark”. search listing. Greggs stepped up to the mark:
turn a negative situation into a brandbuilding between bribing Google with doughnuts in a
And when they turned 100, they posted a
exercise by walking a fine line between apology bid to get it fixed, they entertained fans with
dier ff ent cookie design every day for 100 days.
and humour. appropriate and tongueincheek responses.
They increased their Facebook engagement by
Once it was fixed they cheekily asked Google
Twie tt r is fully integrated into their business. 195 and increased their share rate by 280.
for compensation in the form of the Google
Not only do they oer c ff ustomer service, they’ve
doodle made of Greggs sausage rolls. Nicely
also introduced Tweetserve, which allows
customers to deal with a number of issues
through Twier tt ’s direct message service. By
using Tweetserve, customers can receive their
Many companies are gei tt ng to grips with
account balance, remaining minutes or special
Pinterest but Buzzfeed is a step ahead. They
oer ff s.
use Pinterest to find trending topics, see how
people categorise information and get ideas
for stories. Since joining Pinterest, they’ve seen
huge increases in referral trac ffi . Their first post
to be pinned has now received 2.3 million hits
from Pinterest alone (that’s since June 2012).