Many small business owners know that they need to start taking their social media seriously, but simply aren’t sure where to start. When that’s the case, it’s best to take it back to basics. We’ve put together a guide to the top six social media practices every business should be putting into practice to take their social media marketing to the next level and build an engaged online audience. Let’s dive in. 

Define Your Audience 

It’s important to be crystal clear on your target audience so that you can choose the right channels to use and post at the right times of day, as well as get your tone and message right. Once you get started, most social media sites offer analytics features for business accounts that will give you greater insight into your audience and the kind of content that really resonates with them. 

Identify Your Goals 

It’s important that you clearly define your goals for social media. Do you want to increase brand awareness, target a new segment of the market or drive traffic to your website? Businesses don’t have social media for its own sake. It’s a very valuable marketing tool and it’s important that you know exactly how and why you want to use it. 

Active Interaction 

It’s called social media for a reason. Your profiles and pages are more than just a place for customers to check your business information or admire you. A mere presence is not enough; you must purposefully build relationships and trust with your audience. Regularly publishing content helps you to position your brand as the go-to for your audience. 
 
Interacting with leads and prospects on social media also enables you to answer questions and engage your audience in conversation, which is key to driving sales. 
 
It’s better to be very active and heavily involved on one social media platform than to use many different channels sporadically. If you have limited resources, identify the platform that your audience uses the most and focus on that. You may also be able to repurpose content across several platforms rather than creating unique materials for each channel. For example, Facebook updates can easily be reshared on LinkedIn, or Instagram posts and stories can be automatically uploaded to Facebook at the same time. 

Make Use of Private Messages 

It pays to pay attention to your inbox. Increasing numbers of users are taking advantage of platforms’ private messaging options to get in contact with small businesses rather than picking up the phone. Check your inbox several times per day and aim to respond to queries as soon as possible. This may be a task that you need to outsource as your business grows! 

Create Meaningful Content 

Irrelevant newsletters and boring updates will have your audience heading straight towards the ‘unsubscribe’ and ‘unfollow’ buttons. Users don’t want to be spammed; they want to be informed, entertained and educated. Focus on creating content that adds value to your audience’s lives, whether that’s by entertaining them, teaching them how to solve a problem or showing them how to achieve their goals. Drive up engagement with polls and contests, and create content that your audience will be keen to share with their friends. 

Targeted Ads 

Social media allows you to get super specific with your advertisements and target your ads towards a very precise audience, ensuring that not a penny of your budget goes to waste. This can help you to establish your audience when you first join a platform and gain followers, highlight specific products and services or create a buzz around a special event, such as a launch or sale. Advertising doesn’t replace a great content strategy or the above social media practices but it can help to give you a kick start and add momentum to your campaigns. 

Summary 

The above practices will help you to get started on social media and use it in a way that is beneficial to your business. Although eventually it would be wise to outsource your social media to an expert, these practices will certainly help if you do not yet have the resources to do so. It’s important to start off on the right foot and build a strong foundation to market your business. 
 
Written by: 
Nicola J Sorrell - Effective Accounting 
Founder | Xero Champion | IR35 Expert 
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