Using social media effectively can be a struggle for many small business owners and managers. There are a thousand and one tasks to focus on when operating a business, and Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social media platforms can sometimes seem more of a burden than a blessing. The key to using these tools successfully is to have an active business plan that includes social media.

Devise you own unique social media strategy

Facebook continues to dominate the social media scene, over 60% of Australians use social media and of those more than 95% use Facebook according to Sensis. When considering how to best use this popular platform, an others, kick start your strategy by asking a few core questions around basic business marketing, customer identification and service delivery.

Once your strategy is in place consider these six points to get started:

  1. Identify your unique marketing segments
  2. Use instant communication with customers
  3. Track and refine your advertising
  4. Leverage off other social media
  5. Use your own staff resources judiciously
  6. Weed out what doesn’t work

1. Maximise your unique marketing reach

While using social media can be a cheap communication method to reach large numbers of potential clients quickly and easily, it’s unlikely to be effective if this is done in a hit and miss manner. Like any marketing aspect of your business, identifying your market segments, demographics of clients and so on is essential. Perform this exercise for each platform, including Facebook, to know if it’s the right platform for you.

For example, note the recent trend of youth moving away from Facebook (it is no longer cool since mum and dad are using it!). This may be a good thing if your sought after audience is made up of adult groups. However, if you are chasing a younger demographic this may mean you need to consider drastically changing advertising and communication methods now and switching to other social media sites. Be prepared to tweak this part of your plan regularly.

2. Use instant communication with customers

The great advantage of popular social media is that communication can be instantaneous. Customers like to know the status of products they shop for before placing orders or visiting a shopfront. Proactively letting followers know of ‘specials’, ‘sold-outs’ or other issues can help build rapport. If customers can use Facebook to immediately contact you to place orders when they receive notifications, this will directly impact the bottom line of your business.

3. Track and refine your advertising

Don’t use a scattergun approach to advertising with social media. Facebook tools let you build and target ads to different audiences with different interests. Analytics on how your ads perform give you great insight into how effective Facebook is for your business.

4. Leverage off online sites and other social media

Deciding how to use social media for small business, also means looking into other popular social media platforms including Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and so on, and seeing where you can leverage communication between these. There are many website tools that allow you to post blogs and articles on your business website, you can then easily share links to this content across the social media platforms your business is using.

5. Weed out what doesn’t work

Continuously test and evaluate the results of using key aspects of Facebook, including ad placements, blog and article comments, and number of likes etc. to see what’s working. This will give you a good insight into how to use social media for your unique business, and how Facebook, and other social media platforms, can be part of that strategy.

Ultimately remember that social media is about engagement with others. So you do need to nurture the relationship with your fans and followers. Spending time listening to what your customers want from you can be invaluable.

Does your business have a Facebook page? If yes, what works for you?