How to use Facebook and Instagram to your small business advantage

Facebook_Instagram

In a bid to grow your business, you may find yourself adopting various approaches to when it comes to spreading the word. The small business marketing world is ever more digital and with the continual expansion of social media usage, small businesses need to rapidly adjust to how Facebook and Instagram work in order to take advantage of the potential reach.

Below are a few steps you can take to to capitalise on what Facebook and Instagram can bring to your business when it comes to online promotion. 

Create a Facebook business page

Create a business profile for your small business and start posting content that is relevant to your business, products, and services. Remember it's not all about self promotion. So share content that is helpful to your audience, not just selling your goods and services.  Also remember to post consistently. As you start to post and check your analytics you will establish the best time of day etc for the audience you are hoping to engage with, you may even find your audience start to expect posts from you on a certain day or time. A contact of mine regularly posted on a theme each Friday and when she missed one week for holiday (don't forget to schedule) she had messages asking if she was OK. 

Don't foget to let your network know about your new business page. Try to garner support and ask them to 'Like', 'Follow' and 'Share' on your behalf.

Less is more so don't be tempted to compromise on quality just to get something posted. If you're time poor, don't over commit yourself to a punishing social media schedule. Little and often.

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Hashtags! What, when, where and how?

Hashtags

They’re everywhere and we’ve all seen them cropping up in all sorts of unexpected places, but if you’re new to social media and you’re finding your hashtags a bit of a minefield then read on.

What are they?

A hashtag is a way of tagging, or key wording, your posts on your social channels. They help to get your posts, tweets, status updates etc. found by users searching for content on any given subject.

So for example, if I were searching on Twitter for information about the recent Olympics I might search for ‘#Rio2016’ which would return Tweets containing that hashtag.

When and how should you use them?

Whenever you can but proceed with caution:

Make sure they are relevant to the content you’re sharing. For example, if I'm posting a fun image of a dog that has nothing to do with web design, I wouldn't tag it #webdesign.Use your keywords. So for example, I use #webdesign #smallbusiness #websiteTry not to join too many words together. Better  #smallbusiness #webdesign than #smallbusinesswebdesignTry to use hashtags that are already in use and there is a useful little autocomplete that pops up as you type … unless of course you’re creating your own intentionally. More on this another time.Avoid tagging every word and generally over tagging – although it’s more appropriate on some channels than others.Humour works and it goes without saying … correct spellingWhere do you use them?Twitter: This is where it all started. One or two per Tweet and I would say no more than three. Adding a hashtag at the end of the Tweet will create a link to all other tweets on that topic, so only do this if it’s going to enhance the value of your own Tweet to your audience and is relevant.Facebook: Hashtags are not generally associated with Facebook although they are now being used. As a general rule no more than two per post. Research shows that the number of interactions drops as the number of hashtags increases.Linked In: Hashtags are not supported by Linked In so they are best avoided.Instagram: The hashtags here really should be about describing the picture and use all that are relevant … you can use up to 30. It’s OK to use two that are similar – for example, #webdesign and #websitedesign

This is by no means a comprehensive list of all the social channels or all the appropriate usage, so please add your own experiences in the comments below and anything else that may be useful to a small business just starting out with social media.

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New to managing a Facebook page? Stuck for post ideas?

Facebook_Post_Ideas
Then read on if you need some inspiration

Those first few posts on your new Facebook business page can seem a bit daunting. What on earth do you post? If you've just launched a new website, use some of the content from that to ease yourself in to it and then move forwards using these guidelines.

Share tips and best practise advice from within your sector. Demonstrating your knowledge builds credibility.Post images of your products and/or work you've recently completedHumour works well ... it doesn't all have to be about your products and this gives you a chance to show a bit of personality behind your brandMotivational quotes ... but be sincere (that's my personal opinion) and probably not too frequently.Ask questions. For example, I have to select images for websites and one of my early posts that worked really well was quite simply asking people what they felt the message was behind the photograph.

Also don't forget you can share some of your Pages post on your personal Facebook profile to relevant groups that you may be a member of. But, do be careful ... too much 'spammy' behaviour and bombarding various groups with the same post in a short space of time can alienate your audience and more worryingly cause Facebook to suspend your page.

Promotions and sales posts ... proceed with caution

Try not to obviously promote your business too much. The odd post about an offer or a promotion is fine. But if all you do is constantly advertise your products and services people will switch off. They may even start to hide your notifications ... nobody likes to be sold to all the time!

Etiquette

Finally, don't forget to interact with your audience and thank them. People like to be acknowledged. Share other pages content and if someone shares yours try to acknowledge it. Commenting on the thread of your own shared content is a very good way of doing this. Plus you are benefiting from the audience of whoever shared in the first place.

There's a lot to take on board here ... but really, just make sure you're posting and sharing if you want to increase your Facebook reach. If you could do with some advice, please get in touch on 01494 537612 and we can get you on the right tracks and we have some useful contacts we can put you in touch with if you just want to hand it over to someone else to manage.

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"No one's seeing my Facebook page posts!"

No_ones_seeing_my_Facebook_Posts

This is something I hear regularly from clients who have just launched a new website and are hoping to promote their business and website through Facebook.

One of the best ways of getting the word out there about a website and/or a new business venture is undoubtedly through using social media. Let's face it, aside from your time ... it's free and the potential audience is huge! If you're still not convinced about using social media to promote your business read this earlier post.

There are many social channels available and for a business providing goods and services locally, business to consumer, Facebook is a good choice.

However, you have to put the work in.

So, you, or your web developer, have created the Facebook page and the temptation is to invite all your friends to like your page. Remember your friends are not necessarily your potential customers, although you could argue that it depends on what you're offering. If you're providing garden services then perhaps someone within that immediate network could require your services and quite possibly friends of friends could increase that likelihood.

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