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Social media marketing

Get a grip on social media marketing, and you could have many more potential customers within your reach. Read on to find out more.

Social media has radically changed how businesses can market their products and services. No longer do you need a massive marketing budget to buy adverts in magazines or on TV, or even spend hours putting up posters, to market to customers you can now reach with a few clicks.

But while social media has changed many aspects of marketing, some principles remain the same. Think about your target market, and make sure your message is relevant to them. Our article How to write marketing materials has more advice.

How do I get started?

Social media marketing usually drives people towards a web page where they can find out more about your business. If you’re selling over the internet, you will need a website where you can receive orders and process payments, which might mean getting one designed professionally if you or anyone you know doesn’t have the technical know-how to set one up.

However, you don’t necessarily need to splash out loads on a website if you’re just using it to promote your business. In some cases a Facebook page where you can post your details, news and other information could be enough.

Or if you want something more personalised, you could create your own blog site relatively easily using free software like Wordpress, which will allow you greater control over content and design. Our article How blogging could get you a job has more advice.

Once your website is up and ready, you need to get people to go there by engaging with them on social media sites. This could be joining groups on LinkedIn, following people on Twitter, commenting on other people’s blogs or posting on Facebook pages, to name just a few of the possible places. But however and wherever you go about it, there are a few points you should always remember.

Where your customers are – both on and offline

Rather than spreading yourself too thinly by joining every single social media network, remember that different people use different networks for different reasons. Twitter and LinkedIn are good for linking up with people who might promote your business and share business tips and is also a good way to find free networking events.

Facebook is good for linking up with people with similar interests who might tell their friends about your business. For example, people interested in customised T-shirts are more likely to look at Facebook pages and blogs about fashion, whereas people who need plumbing repairs are less likely to read about central heating online, and just need someone in an emergency. And if you’re only offering plumbing services locally there’s not much point following plumbers in Canada on Twitter, yet people all over the world might be interested in your T-shirt designs if they can buy them online.

It’s called 'social' media for a reason

People join social media networks to interact with each other, not be bombarded with adverts. This means that you should engage other users in conversation and make comments about their posts before introducing links to your website. Make sure you post your links in messages that show what you’re offering is relevant to what they’re talking about, rather than just spamming everyone.

Give people a reason to click – and come back

A blog or Facebook page will be a bit boring if it’s basically just an advert for your business. So try and create some interesting content if you can. This could be a competition which will keep people coming back, and they might tell their friends as well. Or you could post a picture or video of some work you’ve done and ask for comments. You can also post visual content on sites like Instagram and YouTube, where it will be seen by more people.

Get the balance right

Although social media marketing might not seem to cost money it will take time which – when you’re running a business – is the same thing! Getting involved in online debates and creating amazing videos is all well and good, but you need to make sure that it’s actually turning into sales. This is easier to measure if you’re selling online where you can track the sales you make and where customers are coming from. If most of your business is conducted with people face-to-face, you could ask them how they heard about you. And don’t forget the value of word-of-mouth in the real world as well, which could come from people picking up leaflets and passing them on, but most importantly from you providing a good product or service which people recommend to their friends.

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