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Social media is such an important aspect of a business plan that people can’t afford to ignore it – yet it’s easy to let flicking through timelines and news feeds rule your work day. We have five tips on how to use social media marketing to your advantage if you’re a small business.

1. Plan out your social media strategy

It can be daunting knowing where to start so a social media strategy is key in guiding you along the way. It should outline how you’ll slip social media marketing into your current strategies, as well as deciding which platforms you’ll use to do your marketing. You’ll also find it helpful to delegate who will create these social media account and be in charge of them. Finally, deciding which social media monitoring tools you’ll use to analyse your success will allow you to track whether your social media strategy is picking up traction!


2. Find your fans

Starting a Twitter account is pointless if your customer demographic does not congregate on Twitter! Research where your customers are active online are start by creating an account and dialogue on that social media platform. It is more efficient to join a platform where the customers already are, than to create profiles on every platform hoping the customers will find you.


3. Schedule some time for social media

Social media can take a lot of time to continually support. Set aside a block of time every week to work on a social media calendar, using a content management system like Hootsuite to schedule your social media posts in advance. That way, any time you jump onto your social media profiles, you don’t have to worry about posting real content, only conversing with customers, send out messages and monitor conversations.


4. Be real

Never forget why social media is called so – it has to be social! Set a tone for your business that is professional but conversational. It’s easier to encourage customers when you seem more human, not a corporate robot. If customers post criticisms on your profile, drop the corporate tone and own up to the mistake publicly and on a personal level. Over time, it will build loyalty and trust in the brand when they see you’re not just a faceless business model.


5. Be a knowledgeable voice

Join conversations in your field by offering an expert opinion and voice. Use discussion forums, blogs and Twitter hashtags to answer questions and offer advice in your specialty. If you let people know that you are a business owner working in the field rather than another consumer, others will appreciate your advice and may even check out your business’ social media profile.