Your business: How social media can build (or sink) your company

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Photo: Getty
Photo: Getty

With more than half of the world’s population using social media, it would be silly not to have accounts for your business, right? Not necessarily…

The numbers present a strong case for giving your business a presence on social media platforms: 4.62 billion people are on social media, and daily usage is just under 2.5 hours.

Looking at these stats, you’d think this is the quickest way to reach your customer base, and for some this is true, but it all depends on who your customer is and how you will manage your social media accounts. (Spoiler alert: It could do more harm than good if you don’t do it well.) 

Are your customers social savvy?

Before you launch your business, you should know as much about your target market as possible. Not just the size of the market, their spending power or where they are located, but also how they shop, their age group, their access to the internet and mobile phone usage.

If your product or service is aimed at consumers who have limited access to the internet, and therefore social media, investing time in trying to drive engagement on TikTok, Facebook, Instagram or the like could be time wasted and better spent on more traditional, tangible marketing collateral.

But there’s another level to this. Your customers might be active on social networks, but which ones?

Consider the following:

Facebook

Largest age demographic of users: 25-34

Best for: Promoting business, special offers, product launches, answering customers’ queries and reviews/testimonials

Youtube

Largest age demographic of users: 25-34

Best for: Video content, adverts, brand stories, how-to tutorials, product showcases

Pinterest

Largest age demographic of users: 25-34

Best for: Visual products/services such as graphic design, interior design, furniture, jewellery, décor, etc.

Instagram

Largest age demographic of users: 25-34, very closely followed by 18-24

Best for: Influencer marketing, visual content – photographs or short videos, product showcases, competitions

TikTok

Largest age demographic of users: 18-24

Best for: Experimental campaigns, "viral" marketing, influencer marketing

LinkedIn

Largest age demographic of users: 30-64

Best for: Business-related products/services, thought leadership, recruitment

Think about which of these best suit your product or service, and which are popular with your target market.

Are you social-savvy?

The next step is to decide what you hope to achieve through social media. Are you trying to increase brand awareness, generate more leads or sell your product? This should also help you narrow your focus to only the platforms that will help you do this. It’s better to run at least one social account well than to have dormant accounts on all the platforms.

Once you have chosen the right platforms for your business, consider the type of content you will share (and how you will produce it). Do you have beautiful imagery, videos, stories, campaign collateral, etc.? And do you have time to post these regularly as well as monitor the response you get (called engagement) – answering any questions your followers might have and responding to feedback (the good and bad kind). Social media is most effective when communication flows both ways.

Tip: Plan your posts in advance by developing a content plan. You can also outsource your social media management to a freelancer or specialist agency if it is worth the investment.

Dos and don’ts

Social media can be a powerful tool to build your brand and customer base, but it can do the opposite if you’re not careful. 

Do

  • Set up and complete your business profiles (including profile image) on the most relevant platforms
  • Post regularly and keep your business info up to date
  • Respond promptly to questions, complaints and compliments
  • Monitor trends and experiment with different types and format of content
  • Follow your competitors or other businesses in your industry. The platforms are more likely to recommend your pages to their followers based on similar interests
  • Consider boosting key posts to have it appear on the newsfeeds of people who are not yet following you

Don’t

  • Post controversial content and personal opinions that could be upsetting to your customers
  • Ignore or delete negative comments or reviews
  • Post too much or post boring, irrelevant content – think of what the purpose is of each post
  • Expect immediate results – it takes time to build your community
  • Forget to check your spelling and grammar before posting

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