During our latest free PR clinic in January, it became clear that using social media to promote your business still feels like a bit of a dark art for many entrepreneurs.
The majority of us know how to use social media really well. Indeed, it is a part of our daily lives and we use the various networks like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat to stay in touch with our friends and keep abreast of what’s happening in the world.
But when it comes to using those same platforms for business, it seems many entrepreneurs are unsure where to start. So here are our answers to some of the most common questions we have encountered during our PR clinics:
Do I need social media?
In short? Yes, you do.
People now expect businesses to be on social media, and if yours isn’t it could be seen as not keeping up with the times or worse, as not being transparent. So ideally you should have a social media presence – and you need to keep it active. It’s no good having a Twitter account that hasn’t been used for the past two months.
We recommend using tools like Hootsuite or Tweetdeck to schedule your posts for the days or weeks ahead. It will save you time and ensure that even when you are busy running your business day-to-day, your accounts are being kept up to date. Do remember to keep an eye on responses though!
Do I need a lot of followers or is it just a vanity figure?
Isn’t vanity the whole point of social media?
Seriously though, social media is in many ways tantamount to crowd manipulation. At the risk of sounding cynical, people are sheep. If loads of people follow an account, it must be good, right? So yes, the bigger your following, the better. A bigger following will also increase the reach of your posts – that is, more people are likely to see them and find out about what you do.
How do I get more followers?
In theory, good content will lead to organic growth. If you post great content, people will engage with your posts by liking and commenting, which will increase your reach, which will in turn increase your number of followers.
That’s the theory. But in practice you might want to grow your following a little faster, and there are different ways to give it a little boost.
We have found Facebook advertising works really well for our clients. It doesn’t cost much and tends to yield great returns. But to make it worth your while, you need to make sure you tailor your target audience carefully. Your adverts also need to contain a very clear call to action. For example, instead of saying “Our online shop is well stocked”, say “Go to our online shop now to see our latest arrivals”. Or instead of saying “Our business is the leader in x technology”, say “Follow our page for exclusive news and developments in x technology”.
On Twitter and Instagram, we have found that the most efficient way of growing your following is to use the “follow-unfollow” technique. Find other accounts similar to yours or with shared interests and start following their following. People will then hopefully follow you back. You will need to unfollow those who haven’t followed back on a regular basis. Free tools like FriendorFollow or Crowdfire are hugely helpful for this.
Some may argue that it’s not the most ethical way of growing your numbers and we probably wouldn’t recommend it as a long-term strategy, but as a quick boost, it is quite efficient. After a while those who aren’t interested will stop following you but as you increased your reach through an increased following, you should also gain ‘true’ followers in the process. Just make sure that you are selective in who you choose to follow in the first place.