Social media is an inexpensive way to market your business. Entrepreneurs can use social media to promote their products or services and even more importantly, connect with potential customers online.
SME South Africa has put together a comprehensive list of everything you should know about marketing your business online.
1. Have a plan
“Define your objectives, develop a strategy (plan) of how you are going to achieve these objectives, decide which social media platforms will best help you achieve these objectives, execute and then grow from there.” – Tshepiso Phaho, founder and CEO of The Canvas. Learn more about planning and strategy
2. Choose the right social media platform
“The trick is to do research on the various platforms, understand your business and marketing strategy, and then decide which [social media] platforms will work best to help you achieve your objectives. If you are starting out and do not have the capacity to handle all three platforms, choose one and then gradually move on to other platforms.” Tshepiso Phaho, founder and CEO of The Canvas. Find out how to research social media platforms
3. Put into place a social media policy
“A social media policy is designed to navigate through ambiguity and to clarify certain responsibilities when it comes to posting material online. It also works to establish principles for employees when they are using social media for work and personal reasons, more so when the employee’s relationship to the employer is known or presumed.” – Monisha Prem (BA MBA), CEO and senior legal practitioner at Excelsur Legal Services. Get tips on how to write a social media policy
4. Make it easy for people to find you online
“Make it easy for customers to find and contact you. Check that your website and social media profiles are up-to-date with contact details and product or service info.” – Natalie Pool, head of Social Media, VML South Africa. Attract potential clients and customers
5. Make use of hashtags
“Join popular hashtags and perhaps consider creating your own campaigns in order to encourage user-generated content.” – Evan LePage, a blog specialist at Hootsuite. Learn more about what works for different social media platforms
6. Make your content useful to your target market
“Whenever you create content, ask yourself, ‘am I adding value to the person seeing this?’ Make sure that everything you post adds value, whether it be a handy tip or a special deal. If you’re not adding value, people will ignore your content and move on or even worse, stop following you.” – Aloysius Magerman, marketing manager for VML South Africa. Get ideas on what to post on each social media platform
7. Stand out from the clutter
“Offer a unique point of view. Make people laugh. Reward them with something beautiful.” – Natalie Pool, head of Social Media, VML South Africa. Generate buzz for your business
8. Add a call-to-action to posts
“Always make sure that you give your customer something to do. If you’re posting a picture of your product, give them a link to go buy it. If you’re talking about your service, encourage them to get in touch. A post without an invitation is a wasted post.” – Aloysius Magerman, marketing manager for VML South Africa. Create quality content for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn
9. Make your employees brand ambassadors
“During the festive season, Starbucks got 45 of its baristas across six different cities in Asia to shoot a video of them singing a Christmas carol. It was viewed almost 15 000 times and #ShareTheJoy was trending on all their social platforms…” – Robert Gembarski, Social Media Strategist at Branding Personality. More about Starbucks’ social media marketing strategy
10. Use visuals to entice readers
“While making slick, well-produced videos would be ideal, the reality is that this takes time and money. A more realistic approach is to focus on imagery. If you’re not terribly good at taking photographs, invest in a photography course to get you started. Avoid doing text-only posts at all costs.” – Aloysius Magerman, marketing manager for VML South Africa. Learn the social media rules for posting
11. Boost posts on Facebook
“Try to post when you have some budget to promote your post and when you have a post worth promoting.” – Aloysius Magerman, marketing manager for VML South Africa. Get more advice on using Facebook for business
12. Regularly check your online reputation
“Google search your name and the name of your company from time-to-time. Activate Google Alerts for your company, and on your own social media profiles, be protective of your privacy and vigilant of who you invite as friends/followers.” – Lunice Johnston, founder of Lunice Johnston Communications.
13. Do not be random
“If you are in doubt about whether to post something, you are probably right.” – Anja van Beek is an independent leadership consultant, talent strategist and coach. Learn about building trust through daily interactions
14. Have a crisis plan
“Any mistakes or negative posts should be dealt with immediately, with correct information communicated by the individual appointed to do this. Never argue online, and provide regular updates.
If necessary, send out an apology.” – Lunice Johnston, founder of Lunice Johnston Communications.