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Increasing a Business's Social Media Use

Social media has become an integral part of any successful business's strategy and marketing plan. SMEs need to place more emphasis on ensuring that they continually monitor and update their social media platforms

Social media isn't just about having a Facebook or LinkedIn page and relaying information on new products to consumers. Social media is a two-way communication, cost effective medium through which a small to medium enterprise can engage with and increase its customer base, as well as acquire, nurture and increase leads to improve business. Although there are many different channels through which businesses can be effective, they must be careful not to put all their 'online eggs into the social media basket'. Social media must be used in conjunction with other tools, such as a website, to supplement the business's online presence. A business must also determine what it can handle and maintain on these platforms in order to be effective. All too often businesses will update their social media in small bursts, only to quickly burn out, leaving their Twitter fans wondering whether or not the business is still a living, breathing entity.

As mentioned in an article on stuff.co.nz on the 26th of October, SMEs must up the social media ante, social media is an effective tool for businesses to reach their audiences with a good percentage of their customers (current and potential), looking to social media for information on products (87.3% of UK consumers in fact read online reviews before purchasing), referrals and feedback on companies, and information relevant to their interests. Businesses can take advantage of satisfying these consumers' needs by listening to what their target consumer is seeking, and providing relevant, up-to-date content via the appropriate mediums in a suitable tone.

By listening to consumers on social media, businesses can adapt and improve from the feedback received. Suggestions may be made about the way a service was delivered and how the process can be improved. The business needs to ensure a prompt response is given and show that the consumer is being listened to. Being a small to medium enterprise is an advantage in this scenario as a large corporation won't be as quick to react as an SME would.

Blogging and posting on social media platforms is a great way to keep in contact with your customer base about new products on offer, what's trending within your industry and to show that your business is alive. Obviously Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are great places to communicate with customers, but the lack of control that businesses have over content on social media platforms needs to be taken into account. With the filters and algorithms dictating what viewers see on sites such as Facebook, a business may not be directly reaching its targeted audience in the way it might think. Blogging is often overlooked as a powerful form of direct, immediate communication with a business's audience.

It is key that a business identifies the most relevant medium(s) to communicate with users and takes on the appropriate amount of social media that it can maintain. If a business only has the resources to properly maintain a small amount of social media, blogging would therefore be the best option due to content control. If a business is operating in the B2B sector and has the resources, it would be wise for this company to be present on LinkedIn in order to communicate with other professionals and organisations. Again, consider the state of the businesses resources and what the business can monitor and maintain in the social media arena.

The tone of content on social media platforms needs to be consistent and appropriate to the message that the business is trying to communicate. Posting informal posts on a site such as LinkedIn will not be effective in building rapport with the audience. Also, a different person posting content each time a post is uploaded will convey multiple and inconsistent tones from the business. Having one manager of all social media communication will ensure a consistent tone and focuses on the same topics and behaviours.

This article reiterates what we emphasised in our previous blog about businesses taking advantage of today's online opportunities in order to improve its chance of success. By creating a coherent message through a website, on social media platforms and using other online tools, a business's chance of success will greatly improve through making itself accessible and findable on the internet and through the more efficient use of its resources.

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