More than 12 million Australians use Facebook. Twitter, on the other hand, has around two million active Australian users.
Meanwhile, as many as four out of five Australian professionals use the networking site LinkedIn to advertise their skills and connect with like-minded people.
Social media presents an unprecedented opportunity for businesses to amplify their content and interact with their target market. But with limited time and resources, small business owners are often afraid of starting – or even maintaining – a social media presence. While 65% of Australians use social media, only 30% of small businesses have jumped on the bandwagon.
SmartCompany spoke to a number of experts for their advice on how businesses can make the most out of Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms.
1. Have realistic expectations
Trevor Young, the founder of Expermedia, says it’s never too late to get your business onto social media. However, he says business owners need to have specific goals in mind.
“It’s about having the right attitude and having a positive mind,” he said. “Business owners need to have realistic expectations about what can and cannot be done. And critically, social media isn’t a sales bulletin.”
Young says social media isn’t necessarily something that yields instant results, just like any other investment. However, if you do put the time and effort into building trust and meaningful relationships between your brand and audience, that will eventually generate sales.
Dionne Kasian-Lew, a social media strategist, agrees.
“Social media is about the long-term,” she said. “There are lots of immediate returns you can get from, say, Google AdWords – but social media is about building relationships. You need to invest the time and energy.”
Young says one way to get the most out of social media is to come up with a plan, just like you would for any other aspect of your business. That way your expectations are clear and you can refine them if necessary.
“You need to ask yourself: can I use this platform to reach and further enhance the relationship I have with my audience?”
2. Don’t talk about yourself the whole time
Social media can be intimidating for business owners because it’s often perceived as something new and required specialised knowledge.
Young says that, in part, this is true because what has worked previously for traditional advertising doesn’t work for social media. Rather than talk about yourself as you would in a television commercial, social media requires businesses to be exactly that: social.
“It’s counterintuitive to the way we’ve been taught to market our brand,” he said. “It doesn’t mean you don’t do the things that still work. All it does is amplify your enthusiasm and expertise.”
Social media was originally built for individuals to interact with other people. Young says this is where SMEs have a key advantage over larger corporations. It’s much easier to come across as human on social media if you’re known for being a small team rather than a large, faceless organisation.
Kasian-Lew likens social media to a dinner party: you are more likely to want to remember engage with someone who has something interesting to say rather than just talks about themself the whole time.
Cat Matson, chief executive of HEARIS, agrees. She says it’s important business owners remember social media isn’t a one-way conversation, but a multi-way one.
“As soon as you start engaging with people they expect a conversation,” she said. “Other people will jump in.”
Story continues on page 2. Please click below.