Social media tips for your start up…thanks!

Some great social media questions, answered by Net 4 Wise Owls’ social media expert and entrepreneur Bill McCartney.

Bill McCartney is an expert, consultant, trainer and all round guru of all things social media. Having started his own business, Net 4 Wise Owls, in 2010 Bill has in contributed to the social success of many Northern Ireland based organisations specialising in marketing and delivering business value via social media.

Why should businesses use social media?

Social media is now a part of our culture. Just as people read newspapers, listen to radio and watch television, we now interact on social media. Social media gives us a level of very personal interaction, not only locally but globally. In Northern Ireland we have a population of 1.75m, with 600,000 users on Facebook so for a business – particularly an SME business – that is a huge market of people that we can potentially connect with on a personal level.

Building traditional relationships in a modern way

We tend to do business with people that we know, like and trust, and social media gives us a way to build this type of personal relationship. Going back 60 years ago, we would have lived in a small village and known, for example, the butcher. You would have known the butcher by name; you would have known the butcher’s children and been included with family celebrations. In the modern world social media allows us to build these traditional relationships.

It’s about building close, personal relationships with your customers and potential customers. Getting them to know you, like you and trust you. If people know, like and trust you, they’ll buy from you.

Taking that relationship further, your customers will become ‘brand advocates’. Having a brand advocate recommend your work either offline or through social media gives your business a massive advantage in the marketplace. People will buy based on their friend’s recommendations, so a strong part of your social media strategy should be to turn your existing customers into brand advocates.

Which social media platform should I choose?

Every start-up company wanting to get into social media should select 1 of just three social media platforms. At the very early stages of the business, time and resource are at a premium. Keep it really, really simple and look for the very best return on effort.

Facebook: Anybody with a small retail business has to be on Facebook. It’s as simple as that.

LinkedIn: Anyone providing a service to other businesses should use LinkedIn to generate qualified leads, improve sales and grow their network. Use LinkedIn to get an introduction or to start the conversation, then ask your potential client for a face-to-face meeting.

Twitter: Sports personalities, Politicians, Celebrities, Bloggers, PR Companies, Reporters, etc. should all be on Twitter. Someone who needs to instantaneously connect with their followers can be very successful on Twitter. However, you do not need to always tweet to be successful on twitter. It can be a fantastic listening tool.

So what about some of the others? Google+ is relativity quiet. MySpace has re-launched and can be used successfully for musicians. Pinterest is good if your business is particularly visual, like fashion. Instagram allows you to create a visual identity. YouTube is the worlds second largest search engine, loved by Google who own it and can offer great opportunities to rank higher in search and communicate effectively.

Think of all this as being at a buffet lunch. Don’t pile your plate high with everything on the table. Avoid indigestion.

Which businesses are doing social media right?

There are a number of SMEs who have had great success on social media with limited resources. For example Jenny’s Cakes, from Bangor, has nearly 2,000 Likes on Facebook. They have a lot of engagement interaction with their fans and have built a strong business off their Facebook page. They are now working on building their Twitter following with the resources that they have available to them.

Home grown NI, an online greengrocers from Newtownards, have built up over a long period of time a solid following of more than 900 on Facebook. They have a very professional approach and have used Facebook to really benefit their business.

How would you measure success on social media?

There are plenty of good local businesses and charities out there who have a lot of ‘Likes’ or ‘Followers’. Success could be measured by counting the number of followers or likes on your page, however the aim of social media being to engage with people, so on Facebook People Talking About This PTAT is a good indication of engagement. Facebook Insights offer good analytics and Facebook advertisements have excellent analytics to determine success.

Google Analytics is a free tool that is both powerful and simple. It can be used to track traffic to your website generated by your social media campaign.

As a basic measure of success, though, simply tracking the number of likes and followers on your page and the number of retweets, comments and replies is another good way of knowing whether your social media page is alive or dead.

What is the biggest mistake people make on Social Media?

If you don’t advertise, it’s like winking at a girl in a dark room, you know what you’re doing, but nobody else does. Not utilising this low-cost advertising opportunity is the biggest mistake that small businesses make. Advertising on Facebook is easy and doesn’t cost a fortune.

Top 5 Social Media Tips from Net4WiseOwls

Know your audience
Dominate a niche, by doing one thing really, really well.
Advertise
Pick just 1 platform and make it successful before adding others.
Ask questions of your audience, and respond to them.

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