Social media for business: how to get started

October 21, 2020

As more companies implement digitalisation, the role of social media becomes even more important. People are ordering online, working online and meeting up with friends online.

Having social media accounts is like having a small property on the internet. It offers a space where you can interact with your customers, reach new potential clients and market your own products.

But how does a business get started with social media? How can you, as a business owner, make sure you aren’t just wasting your time? We put together this short guide to help small businesses get started with social media and find new customers.

Why use social media?

Younger generations use it

If millennials and younger generations are part of your target audience - then influencer and social media marketing provides you with an opportunity to reach them.

According to the Pew Research Center, 90% of young adults use social media, and most users log into their accounts at least once per day. Younger generations aren’t watching TV, reacting to billboards or clicking on ads; they’re on social media.

Many young adults will check a brand's social media platform before purchasing a product for them. This is because an active social media account is a good way to understand brand values, learn more about a company and interact with the business.

If a small business puts effort into their digital marketing it’s usually a good indicator they care about their customers.

Brand awareness

Having a social media presence and posting regularly is a good way to increase brand awareness. If someone eats at your coffee shop and tags your company in their Instagram story, everyone who watches that story will have an awareness of your coffee shop.

If they walk by your coffee shop one day and recognise the logo, they are more likely to pop in and try the coffee.

Brand awareness is something that’s hard to measure, which means it can be hard to justify - but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth trying.

Notice how your customers interact with your infographics, video content and social media content, and see how some customers become more loyal when they receive updates on your company.

Here’s an example of a local coffee shop that posts regularly on their Instagram:

social media for business instagram story

social media for business instagram posts

These kinds of posts help Instagram followers feel more involved with the company, and makes it more likely they will turn into loyal brand advocates.

Increases traffic

If you sell items or services online, it’s likely you have a website (if not, we can help you make an online shop for free). Social media activity is also a great way to help increase traffic by supporting your search engine optimisation (SEO). This could be by creating content that is not only shared on social media but gets found on Google.

Social media acts as a bridge from the offline to the online world. People visit your store or takeaway, see that you’re on social media and then follow you online.

After seeing your social media posts and interacting with your marketing channels, they’ll make the jump to your website and purchase your products online.

Social media helps transition your physical customers to online customers, which not only helps sustain your business during lockdown, but increases sales overall!

Getting started with using social media for business

1. Pick one or two channels

Social media experts usually recommend posting on two social media channels, but at the end of the day it depends on how busy you are and your overall capacity.

If you only have time to post through one channel, then you should pick one, find your brand voice, build a following and only then move on to the next one.

Which channel should you pick? Once again, the best social media platform for your business depends on the industry you’re operating in.

If you are selling something visual such as food or art, Instagram is a good place to start. If you sell books, software or digital products, Twitter may be better.

If you have a young demographic you may want to focus on Snapchat or TikTok. Whereas Facebook is usually best for e-commerce sites and online shops. Many B2B companies use LinkedIn to reach other companies.

2. Start experimenting

Most experts recommend starting with a social media strategy. Although a marketing plan is really important, it’s also good to start with a bit of experimenting. If you are new to social media, it’s worth testing what works best for you and what resonates with your audience.

Download the social media sites on your phone, set up your company account and then post something every day. See what your competitors are posting, and what their audience seems to like. You'll be able to get a feel of how the algorithms work this way.

Follow accounts that your target customer is already following, and follow them back or retweet them - it’s a good way to get noticed and get your first follower. You should also make use of relevant hashtags.

Add a “Follow us on Instagram” in your physical shop and website to encourage people to follow you on social media. Offer discounts on your social network to encourage more people to follow you, and offer rewards to those who refer their friends.

3. Make a plan

Once you have an idea of what you like posting and what your audience enjoys, then it makes sense to make a plan. Decide on the types of content and formats you want to be publishing This could be reviews, thought leadership, customer success stories, current news, new product posts and anything else you think your target audience will love.

List your several post categories and how often you want to be posting. If you want to take this to the next level, set some goals. Track how many followers you’re aiming for and what conversion rates you want for your website.

Also, create a calendar with all the posts for the next week, or even next month. Write and schedule them in advance so you don’t need to worry about all of your social media management.

You can use something like Excel to formulate a plan, and then schedule your posts with software like Hootsuite or Buffer. Planning in advance and utilising analytics tools makes social media marketing easier to manage and allows you to track progress by analysing your metrics.

The Content Marketing Institute has a great Editorial template to support small businesses with their social marketing efforts. Download the Excel spreadsheet CMI Editorial Content Calendar here.

4. Stay consistent

One of the main reasons small businesses don’t succeed with social media is because they test it out for a few months, don’t see a return and then give up.

The key with your social media marketing strategy is to remain consistent. Keep posting relevant content and you will keep turning up on your customers’ social media feed. It may take time, but the return eventually appears.

Try to post a few times per week, and schedule posts in advance so you don’t feel overwhelmed. Once you feel a little more confident about your social media marketing, do some more experimenting. Interact with customers, do giveaways, prize draws, virtual games and more.

Find more creative ways to help bridge the gap between an offline customer and someone who interacts with you online, such as offering pre-orders, or integrating a fully-fledged online ordering system.

With Pomelo Pay, we can help you get started for free, and the only fee we’ll charge is a transaction fee of 1.49%.

When it comes to social media and business, it’s important to realise that it should not be a chore or a boring business activity. Social media marketing can be a lot of fun and you can get creative.

Customers can usually tell when a social media account is “forced”, so they appreciate it a lot more when the company genuinely wants to connect with them.

Download an app on your phone so you can reply in real-time to potential customer queries and make a connection with the people you want to reach.