By Kelly Liu, above, Sustainability & Digital Impact Director, BT Enterprise
In the digital-first age, social media is a platform that allows SMEs and business of all sizes to reach millions of people worldwide. The benefit that SMEs have by using social media is that it allows them to reach a targeted group of people at scale in a short space of time.
As well as being a key platform to grow your online audience and customer base, social media is a great platform to try new things and learn as you go. Through the Skills for Tomorrow programme, BT has helped over 14.7 million people learn new digital skills by providing a range of free courses, webinars, and advice.
BT has provided a checklist of social media tips to help UK SMEs make the most of their online opportunities:
1. Consider which social media platforms to use
Research your audience, including age, gender, and interests and pick the platforms which have users who best match your audience. For example, TikTok’s largest age demographic is 10-19 year olds, whereas Facebook’s is 25-35 year olds. Look at which platforms your competitors use. Can you identify a gap on a certain platform you could take advantage of?
2. Use paid or free social media, depending on your needs
Using free posts (organic) is best for speaking to your existing followers and people searching using hashtags. However, paid adverts on social media give you the ability to target content to new people based on details including age, location, or interests. Using paid social media is a good choice when you have a specific goal in mind, such as sending people to your online shop, or even directing footfall to your bricks-and-mortar shop.
3. Set SMART goals to get results for your business:
• Specific: What do you want to achieve?
• Measurable: Which metric can you measure this goal by? This could include website conversions or people using special offer codes or coupons you’ve included in posts
• Achievable: Your goal must be realistic
• Relevant: Your goal should be relevant to your overall business objectives
• Time-bound: Set a target date – a deadline gives you something to work towards
4. Engage with your audience
Monitor social media mentions so you don’t miss anything and try to answer promptly. Consider your brand tone of voice and whether it matches your customers’; do they use emojis or are they more formal? Either way, always keep it helpful, friendly and professional.
5. Sharing content
Scheduling your posts can help you manage your time and there are various online tools that are designed to make this quick and easy. Test scheduling posts at different times and on different days of the week to learn when your audience responds the best.
6. Research the competition
Research what does and doesn’t work for your competition. This can be a useful way to know how your potential customers will respond to your content on social.
7. Measure success, learn and adapt
Most social media platforms have free tools that can help you measure likes, follows or other interactions, but you can also use tracking services to measure results. More advanced third-party services can measure things including your customer’s sentiments such as positive or negative responses. If you’re using paid ads, you can also track metrics like website conversions.
Think about the format. Different formats have different engagement rates. Videos have the highest engagement rates, and posts with images perform better than those without. Test what works best for your business. Trial different types of content to see what works best for your business, including different types of images, videos, and tones of voice.