So why are you on social media? You probably think, and rightly so, that these days you don’t really exist as a business if you’re not on one of the major social media platforms – even if you have a website. The facts speak for themselves: In the first quarter of 2015, Twitter, averaged 236 million monthly active users. More incredibly, as of the same period, Facebook had 1.44 billion monthly active users. This suggests approximately 1 in every 5 people worldwide is on Facebook. Staggering!
Moreover think for a moment about what you can do via social media as a start-up or SME. Start-up guru and Founder of StartUp Factor Keith Mabbutt puts it well: “It’s inexpensive and efficient. Social media networks are accessible 24/7 all year round from anywhere in the world, provided you have internet connectivity. This enables an SME to share any content, news updates, or imagery about its business and/or products or services instantaneously with a global audience. That’s very powerful and gives SMEs a level playing field with the big boys.”
But with every benefit comes a responsibility. Social media is a big weapon which requires careful handling. Our behaviour as users has to change to get the most out of this awesome tool for networking engagement and selling. Like a loaded gun social media can be used to promote your interest or can go off in your face. Here are three things you need to do to use your weapon effectively.
1. Establish a Clear Personal Brand
When a potential follower looks at your Twitter, Facebook Instagram or other profile, they need to grasp in a moment who you are and what you are about. Research indicates you have about eight seconds to tell them and engage them with what your mission is, what your interests are and what you promise to enrich their lives with by way of thoughts products or services. On social media platforms people engage with attitudes beliefs and interests they can relate to. Using words and pictures you must send a clear message about what your mission and promise is, or they’re gone, likely forever.
2. Change your Scale and Ambition
You can and should localise, personalise and globalise your content as your market requires. One size cannot and does not fit all on social media. This also means that your levels of ambition should and can be stratospheric. Social media is a big stick with which to challenge competitors who are far bigger than you are and because of Facebook and Twitter, you need have no fear of the big boys. You have access to the same platforms the same users and the same content. Crucially the size of their wallets accounts for nothing if you have a clear defined brand presence and creative, exciting content. Social media is the ultimate leveller, so change the scale of your ambition. If you don’t it’s a bit like sitting in an airplane cockpit but refusing to take off. Hashtags are crucial in the personalisation of content and direction of messages. In May 2015 last month the Oxford University Press announced that the word “Hashtag” is the word of the year for children in the UK. For marketers, hashtags enable small businesses to enter conversations and drive interest with a power way beyond their size.
3. Join Conversations
Mabbutt from StartUp Factor says: “Sharing good content also helps SMEs drive traffic to their website. Being a powerful marketing tool, it can also quickly augment and improve a brands’ awareness. With the help of social media, you can showcase your company’s products/services and post updates, events and so on instantly.” The key point here is to share material people want to read and are interested in. Think of your life online as a social conversation. There is nothing worse than a person who does nothing but talk about themselves. No one listens, and people will speak ill of you behind your back. But being interested, asking about others, sharing useful insights and keeping conversations going make you attractive to others, and with that comes interest in your products and services. Twitter expert Kim Garst shares this tip: “tweets should be 80% value and 20% product.” She means 8 out of 10 tweets should share interesting material and 2 out of ten should promote your services in an interesting way. Everyone hates the sell sell sell.
So social media has come a long way and can only expand. Establishing a clear brand for yourself, grasping the opportunities to scale up your ambition and joining the big conversations on line is how you can use this weapon to maximum effect.
Featuring: Keith Mabbutt, CEO of StartUp Factor
A government backed organisation providing individuals with Start Up funding and mentoring to launch and develop their own business.
Written By: Tetteh Kofi
Brand Ambassador for JournoLink, Tet is the voice of the JournoLink brand, connecting us with our businesses through events, webinars and social media.