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  • Chris Mellor-Dolman

Social Media Awareness for SME's

You’re a savvy entrepreneur and you know that social media is a fundamental part of your overall success. Why? Because you understand that communities are at the heart of your business.

Communities are important because they promote engagement, and every active engagement brings users closer to your brand, which increases your visibility on platforms and attracts more potential customers to you. They also create a welcoming, engaged environment that generates brand affinity and loyalty. In turn, this will encourage members to share their own stories, which can create connections and inspire others to take action. Finally, communities foster trust. If you can get your followers to function as a community, it will be a sign that your brand is trustworthy, and you'll attract more followers and earn higher retention rates as a result.

That said, which platforms are right for your particular business in order for your social media strategy to work?

Recently, Facebook has been described as a 'dinner party with friends & family, where you tolerate their differing views in the name of keeping the peace. Conversely, Twitter is described as 'a rowdy pub where the vaguely familiar regurgitate mindlessly on subjects that they have no expertise'. Whatever your take, each platform can be incredibly useful in the business world.

Consider these facts from small

· 78% of all UK internet users use Facebook

· 80% of Instagram’s 24m users follow a brand

· 24% of the UK population can be reached with Twitter

· 38% of UK Smartphone users are on Snapchat

The numbers are astounding, and represent a world of opportunity for forward-thinking business owners looking to promote their organisations.

Know your place

Social media uses platforms to increase brand, product and service exposure, and to cultivate relationships. It’s vital throughout the customer journey, but especially at the top of the funnel in the first two stages, to gain ‘awareness’ and to create ‘interest’. This is important because knowing that social media is best suited to driving awareness and interest allows you to create the correct type of content and messaging. It ensures that budgets are allocated correctly, and that success is measured by the right metrics like reach, frequency and brand searches.

LinkedIn, Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter are the big five platforms for businesses to consider. Each offers extensive opportunities to make connections with your target audience, increase your brand awareness with them, and drive them to your site. Once converted, you can then create long-term relationships with them as they advocate your brand.

That said, in terms of purpose they’re all incredibly different.

In summary:

· Facebook is for largescale reach

· Twitter is for real-time conversations

· LinkedIn is for professional networking

· Instagram is for curated photos & videos

· Snapchat is for vertical short-lived storytelling

Where do you fit?

The key question for you is ‘where does your business ft in’? Which platforms are the best investment for your business to access the relevant audience amongst the UK’s 45m active social media users?

Strategy When considering platforms, your first consideration should be your social media strategy:

· What are your goals?

· How are you going to manage your content output over a period of time?

· Who’s responsible for writing and posting content and engaging with responses?

Above all else, make sure that you have a strategy.

Content The substance of your content is one of the most vital considerations. How does your content align with each platform’s audience? If you’re creating lots of quick tips then Twitter might be your first choice. As soon as that content length increases then article-rich platforms such as LinkedIn might be your go-to.

Building relationships in your community increases brand affinity and trust, which are hugely valuable attributes of an audience. In order to build these relationships it’s important to remember that social interactions should be a value exchange where all participants give a little and get a little in return. Make sure that when you participate you’re saying something that is either entertaining or useful to the people you’re engaging with. It should resonate with the community, or prove impactful to people in some way.

Targeting Social media is an incredible medium for segmentation. All platforms offer tools to narrow down a variety of attributes, from salary and purchase behaviour to hobbies and communities. When you’ve got content that performs well, and has the best potential to drive your key goals, then consider more focus by boosting it with advertising, especially in light of the following facts:

· 71% of UK adults can be reached with Facebook advertising

· 51% of UK adults can be reached with LinkedIn advertising

· 42% of the UK can be reached with Instagram advertising

Take age for instance, which might be a key demographic for your targeting. If your product or service is geared towards a younger audience, predominantly under 30, then head for Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat. If you have a wider age spread then Facebook and LinkedIn are the platforms to develop as they have larger audiences of variable age ranges.

Engagement In terms of volume interactions Facebook is hard to beat. Users check the platform regularly, and when they’re on it they’re highly engaged. That said, platforms with fewer followers such as Instagram have even higher engagements.

No matter how many followers you have, it all comes back to content; appeal to them with the right content and you’ll have better engagement rates across all platforms regardless. Just make sure that if you’re using the same piece of content across all of your platforms - and you should, that you tailor it, from a succinct soundbite on Twitter to a more in-depth story on Facebook that incorporates videos, images and promotions.

Journey We touched on the five-stage buyer’s journey earlier. There’s some evidence to suggest that different platforms are better-suited to certain stages from awareness through to retention. For example, Twitter might be an early engagement tool in the ‘awareness’ phase - a first handshake if you like. Then Facebook comes into play in the ‘interest’ phase, which could be the first full conversation. You’ll know your customer journey better than anybody, so apply this logical step-thinking to your social media strategy.

Learn & grow The pure joy of social media is that like all things digital it can be tracked, measured, analysed and changed to be ever-more effective. There’s little inherent risk for business owners to experiment with different platforms to see what works for them. Just make sure that your social media strategy is aligned to your overall business goals and that you use it as your roadmap.

Social media is an incredibly dynamic, fascinating space to work in, and there’s a role for you and your business to play in it. Embrace it, enjoy it, and create a destination where your customers want to engage with you repeatedly - ultimately because it’s useful, entertaining and adds value to their busy lives.

Give a little, gain a little; that’s the winning formula.

As always, this is an open invitation to drop me a line to share your thoughts about this blog, and indeed any other marketing topic that you want to discuss.

True Blue Marketing provides affordable outsourced marketing services to SME’s. For more information call 07900 812391, email or follow @TrueBlueMarketing on LinkedIn and Facebook.


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