SumUpBlog

Social media for business: Your questions answered

Everyone is happy to tell you that you should be using social media for your business, but not everyone has told you why or how to do it.

That’s why we’ve taken the time to answer some of the most frequently asked questions small business owners have when it comes to using social media.

What is social media?

It’s easy to define social media because so many people are already familiar with it. 

Put simply, it’s any website or application that enables users to create and share content, or to participate in what’s known as social networking.

What is social media marketing?

Social media marketing, also commonly known as social media advertising, uses social media as a tool for conversation and reach.

Companies and brands produce content on the same platforms that people are using, in the hope that customers will engage or share their content–increasing the likelihood that someone will convert, ie. make a purchase or download.

This kind of digital marketing gives brands another chance to show who they are, and why people should buy their products. Moonpie uses humour on Twitter to get people talking about confectionery, even when they don’t tweet about their candy. But this is just one example of using social media to stand out from the crowd, every business can find a way that’s authentic to their brand.

What is a social media influencer?

Influencers are people with a large following across different social media platforms. Brands work with them to promote their products and services in a more direct way than a traditional advertising campaign aimed at a general audience.

When it comes to working with influencers, Instagram is the most popular platform thanks to easy photo and video sharing.

How many people use social media?

There are 2.82 billion people using social media in 2019, almost one-third of the world's population.

This number has been steadily growing since 2010, and there are predicted to be 3.1 billion social media users in 2021.

With so many people on social media, it’s no surprise that 75% of businesses successfully managed to increase their traffic when they started using social media platforms.

How many people use social media in the UK?

In 2018, 67% of the UK population were using social media.

It’s most common among a younger audience, although the number of users under 34 has actually started to decline. The number of users above age 34 has seen continual growth since 2017.

The most popular social media site in the world is Facebook, with almost 2.38 billion monthly users. The 2nd most popular is YouTube with 2 billion monthly users, followed by the 1.6 billion people using WhatsApp every month.

Facebook Messenger, WeChat and Instagram complete the top 6 most popular social media platforms–each with over 1 billion users a month.

However, from a brand perspective, it doesn’t always make sense to go straight for the most popular platform. For many small businesses, having an account on TripAdvisor, Yelp or other similar review sites can be the difference between gaining new clients or not–so spread your online presence across multiple channels.

What are the different types of social media?

The main type of social media is social networking–where people interact and connect with others, like on Facebook and LinkedIn.

Next, there are image and video sharing sites such as Instagram and YouTube.

Review sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor are also considered to be social media platforms, as well as community blogs like Medium and any discussion sites. Having a blog or being present on discussion sites is another opportunity for people to get in contact with your brand and understand what you’re all about before meeting your sales pitch.

Why do businesses use social media?

  • Increase brand awareness

  • Boosting sales

  • Reach their audience and generate leads

  • Customer support

  • Monitoring the competition

You can actually find many benefits all the way through the funnel, using social media for marketing is just one of them.

At the beginning, where you can find customers and let them know about your company.

In the middle, where you convince them that you have a product or service that they need.

And at the end, for completing the sale and then offering them support and letting them know about any new products or services that they might be interested in.

Cupcake Royale keeps customers coming back by asking them what they want to see on the menu, instead of just deciding themselves. This is a sure way to not only engage customers on social media, but to increase the chances of them buying your product too.

Why is social media important for business?

With almost one-third of the world's population using social media, it’s a vital platform that’s included in the marketing strategies of different businesses all around the world, for all of the reasons listed above.

Now we know the why, what about the how?

How do businesses use social media?

Your approach will vary depending on your business size, and ultimately the amount of time and money you can invest in using social media.

With a bigger budget, you can consider having a full-time social media marketing agency–who’ll take care of your complete social media strategy and the implementation of your campaigns.

There are many social media marketing companies out there, each with different specialities and areas of expertise, so you’ll have to do some research to find the best fit.

However, not every small business will have the luxury of outsourcing their social media activity, so what other options are there?

Social media marketing for small businesses

Managing social media for a product or brand is a full-time job, which is not good news for many small business owners who are already balancing multiple roles.

However, there are a few steps that you can take that will begin to work, without taking up all of your time.

  • Find relevant social media channels (where your target market are), and start to build a profile there.

  • Post relevant content on those channels that will actually help people. Our social media manager Matt Boucher recommends to:

"Start with asking yourself the question, 'what would I want to see as a customer?'".

  • Find a way to get your customers to generate content for you. Businesses who are selling a lifestyle or visual product can rely purely on user-generated content to fill their social media feed–as shown by the publication The Everygirl.

These are some simple steps that you can take as a small business to start building an online presence.

Hiring a social media manager could be an option for when you don't have the budget to work with an agency, but don't have the time to work on it yourself. A good social media manager will not only help build your social media presence, but also monitor it and analyse the results of any social media campaign.

Whether taking on social media on your own, or working with a social media manager, one of the first steps to take will be defining your strategy.

How to create a social media strategy

Your social media strategy outlines what you want to do, and what goals you hope to achieve through using social media. You can refer to it to make sure that you're on the right track, or to see if you need to readjust.

Step 1.

Research and planning

The first step in building your strategy is to start with some market research and competitor analysis. Talking from experience, Matt knows that:

“Different channels work better for different businesses. Instagram is great for inspiration and very visual–which could be better suited for artists and fashion brands. Facebook is very functional and offers many useful features, and gives you the option to book appointments through Messenger–perfect for hairdressers and beauticians.”

It’s a good idea to analyse your previous social media content and presence at this stage, to take forward any learnings you may already have.

Step 2.

Goals

Many companies use social media to boost sales and find more customers. These types of goals can be reflected throughout the company, not just for social media.

Step 3.

Plan your content

Once you’ve done your research and set your goals, it’s time to plan the content that will help you achieve them. Recording all the content that you aim to create is the start of a great social media calendar, and will help you stay organised and identify any gaps that you might have.

Step 4.

Create, evaluate, repeat

All that's left is to actually produce the content that you've planned. Try to stick to your schedule, but make sure to evaluate it from time to time so that you can begin to identify what works well for your audience, and what doesn’t. Keeping track of your performance is a key factor to help you optimise your content so you benefit more from every post you make. Measuring the performance of your content could include things like, looking at your click-through rate, seeing how posts affect the number of sales or visitors in your store, and looking at the engagement of your content–which could be measured through comments, likes, or the amount of time that people spend on your page.

How to build a social media following

Once you have defined your strategy and started implementing it, you’re moving in the right direction to build a following on social media.

Gaining followers is something that takes time and effort. If you keep producing and optimising content based on your data, then with time your online presence will grow and the number of people who follow you along with it.

How much does it cost to advertise on social media?

The amount you spend on social media advertising changes from platform to platform, and will also change based on the time of year, the time of day, your audience, and the industry that you're in.

The social media platforms who allow advertising on their sites often use a pay-per-click model. This means that your cost changes based on the number of people who click on one of your ads. Essentially, you only pay for running an ad when people click on it.

As well as paying-per-click, there is also what’s known as “cost-per-mile”. This model is based on the overall number of people who see your ad. In this case, you pay per every 1,000 people who see your ad.

Different companies have different cost-per-click and cost-per-mile figures. One of the most important figures to look at when it comes to social media is your ROI, also know as return on investment. This shows you how much you get for what you spend–and is a great indicator when deciding if a campaign was successful or not.

Starting to use social media for business can be daunting, but it does get easier as you go–especially when you start to see the positive impact it can have on your business.

We hope that these answers help you get started. If you have any other questions, reach out to us on our social media channels and we’d be happy to help you. You can find us on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

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Alex Thumwood