Social media isn’t for every business – and if you’re going to bother, then you’ve got to do it consistently – but there are lots of reasons why it’s good to find the time for it.

With over 600,000,000 people using Facebook, it’s quite likely that some of them are also your customers. And with over 100,000,000 tweets being – well, um, tweeted(!) per day on Twitter, it would be great if at least 1 of those was someone recommending your business to their followers.

Social media needn’t be seen as a black art or as something complicated – it simply means sharing information online. The whole “web 2.0” scene started about 6 years ago and was the dawn of everyday members of the public being able to post updates on the Internet in someway, whether that be a blog post (online diary article) or just clicking a button on a photo to say “I like this”.

Now, with Google buying YouTube and these social media sites becoming such an intrinsic part of the Internet in this decade, there are lots of arguments out there that participating in social media can even help the SEO of your website (where it appears in search engines such as Google). 

Need a hand?

If you think your business is suited to social media – or you’re not sure and would like some advice – then please contact us and we can help you decide what to do and how to get it off the ground.

The basics would be a Facebook Fan Page and a Twitter account, which we can set up for you.

We can then offer services where we keep these updated for you, or we can just be on hand to make any design/development updates as and when you need them.

Using your Facebook Fan page

You can use your Facebook page to offer exclusive discounts to people who “like” your page, or as a way of telling customers who visit your shop about new products in stock.

If you run a service based industry, you can offer people help and advice, reminding them in the meantime of other services you run (oh, like this blog post!). You can keep your page updated with photos of your accommodation/premises/products/work/[insert your relevant business features here! It works for lots of people!].

If you’re running an event, be sure to update your Facebook Fan Page with details so your followers can read about it in their newsfeed.

Don’t over-do Facebook

Be careful, on Facebook, not to go overboard – you don’t want to “spam” people with business news in a leisure environment. But at the same time, if you’re a pretty shop selling pretty things, then you’re exactly what people might like a bit of when they’re browsing the Internet in the evening looking for something to spend their wages on! Use your marketing hat to decide how you should approach your audience (or ask us for some consultancy on the subject).

When you update your Facebook Fan Page, people who’ve “liked” your page get your update in their news feed – so when they log in they see what you’ve said; they don’t need to actively visit your page to get your update. Which is why Facebook can be great, but also why you don’t want to annoy anyone because they can update their settings so as to stop seeing you in their news feed, or they could just “un-like” you so you lose their attention, and the option of contacting them, completely.

Is it possible to over-do Twitter?

Not in the same way as Facebook, I’d say. Because that is just a continuous stream of updates and is often more B2B. The main thing to keep in mind though, is keep it interesting! Don’t just say “here’s something new from our shop” / “here’s something else new from our shop” / “here’s another thing new from our shop”.

Twitter, more so I feel than Facebook, is about sharing useful – or interesting at least – information. So if you see a funny news article that in any way relates to what you do (or even if it doesn’t and is just funny!) then share it. If you see a great example of someone doing what you do on the other side of the world, then share it. You’ll get more respect for being a generally useful and/or entertaining twitter’er than just a constant sales-person.

It’s a two way street

Where people can go wrong with social media is by setting up a couple of profiles and just udpating them repeatedly without engaging with what’s going on – maybe from a distance via a piece of automated software or just having their profiles update automatically from their blog. Don’t get me wrong, updating Twitter when you write a new blog post is fine – but if someone then comments on the blog, or speaks to you – make sure you speak back! Don’t ignore people or not check for messages.

And don’t ONLY update your profiles with automated feeds – prove you’re there and human by writing the odd tweet that isn’t also just reproduced on your website and on Facebook and vice-versa.

I’ve seen comments on the Facebook Fan Pages of big companies, complaining that they asked a question on Facebook but that the company never reply or take any notice about what their fans say. And feedback like that published for the world to see is the easiest way to lose people. (This is also why people shy away from opening the Social Media can-of-worms but overall I think the benefits can easily out weigh any negative sides.)

I’ve also seen companies with hundreds of followers, who only follow a handful of people. Follow your followers back! Show you’re interested in what they’ve got to say – that’s the point of these sites after all – not just to preach at people and try and sell things.

Tell people about your social media profiles

If you email people – put your links in your signature. If you send out brochures, include details. You could even gear an online competition around increasing your social media sign ups (this is something we’ve done a lot of with people in the past so get in touch for a hand with this). 

On that note – please like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!