The way businesses and brands connect with their customers has been transformed by social media.

Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other social media networks can provide business owners with a cheap and effective way to talk directly with their customers, build brand awareness and grow their business.

In these uncertain times, when the coronavirus is presenting businesses with unprecedented challenges, there has never been a greater need for strong and regular communication with customers.

However, the benefits of social media are often overlooked by start-up businesses due to fear of the unknown, who regard it as yet another time-intensive task to add to an already long to-do list.

With this in mind, Start Up Loans, part of the British Business Bank, has published a new guide to help small businesses better understand how they can use social media to promote their business and boost their bottom line.

Richard Bearman, Managing Director of Start Up Loans scheme, shares his top five tips below.

Choose the best social media platforms for your target audience

Social media can be vital to building an engaged, loyal customer base, so it’s important to choose the right platform for your business and target audience. If you haven’t defined the audience you want to target, this is a vital first step.

Each platform reaches a different demographic; nearly a third of Facebook users are aged between 25 and 34, whereas 59% of Instagram users are under the age of 30, so focus on the most relevant platforms for your business.

Create a winning social media strategy to grow your business cheaply and quickly

Being active on social media platforms without a strategy can be ineffective and may harm your business.

A good social strategy includes specific, achievable and clearly measurable goals; ensures all activity on social media channels is relevant; and uses a realistic time frame.

It’s also important to track the impact of your content, which helps understand what does and doesn’t work and lets you improve your strategy over time.

Create shareable content tailored to your audience

It’s important that your social media posts deliver relevant content to your target audience, rather than just a sales pitch for your business. Decide in advance what type of content will resonate well and include a variety of content, from written blog posts to video clips and Q&As.

Planning a content calendar ahead of posting will also help establish a regular routine and ensure your audience receives a drumbeat of updates.

Make the most of social media monitoring

Social media is about more than posting content, it’s your chance to respond to questions and monitor business trends and competitors. By keeping tabs on social media, you’ll often find valuable insight into trends that could impact your market.

Following competitors online is also another useful way to improve your own content, noting what activity does and doesn’t work well.

Listen to and engage with your customers

One of the most important uses of social media is responding to customer comments and questions, ensuring your business appears professional and willing to listen. Used well, customer responses can increase customer loyalty, with 71% of consumers who’ve had a good social media experience with a brand being likely to recommend it to others.

It’s crucial to never ignore difficult posts and take them offline where necessary, to thank customers who post positively and to always ensure responses are relevant, appropriate and professional.

Read more:
Top social media tips to boost engagement for small businesses

This content was originally published here.