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Let’s Talk: Social Media



Expert | Featured | Let's Talk

By Rebecca Thacker

How can small businesses make the most of social media? 

Now, more than ever, small and medium businesses are using social media to engage with their customers and build brand awareness.

According to Kaylie Smith, Director of SMB for Australia and New Zealand, Instagram and Facebook; more than 80 per cent of people on Instagram are following a business and 47 per cent have visited a small business as a result of something they’ve seen on the platform.

However, it is important for SMEs to understand that social media is not the right platform to push promotional products and brag about achievements, it’s about interacting with their audience, seeking feedback, and building an online presence, which in the long run will boost business.

Andrew Raso, CEO, Online Marketing Gurus said Facebook alone had over 15 million monthly active users, spending more than four hours per day on the platform.

“According to Sensis, only 26 per cent of small businesses are actively advertising on social media. Not tapping into this massive opportunity is crazy. Imagine getting your product or service in front of 15 million people?” he said.

In this weeks’ Let’s Talk we asked business leaders, ‘How can small businesses make the most of social media?

Some of their top tips include, switching to a business account on your social media platform, get creative with content, use social media tools to drive business, use messaging and chat tools to interact with your clients, and actively engage with your customers.


Kaylie Smith, Director of SMB for Australia and New Zealand, Instagram and Facebook
With over 80% of people on Instagram following a business, we know our community is passionate about connecting with brands and products as part of their experience on the platform. Instagram is a key platform for brands to reach new shoppers who are potentially interested in their products, while at the same time being a great way to increase engagement among existing customers.

Recent research found 66% of Australians follow a local business on Instagram and 47% have visited a small business, such as a restaurant or store, as a result of something they’ve seen on the platform.

For small businesses looking to make the most of social media platforms, here are my top tips:

  • Switch to a business account – On Instagram, you’re able to switch your account to a business profile easily in Settings, which allows for interactive tools for your customers and easy ways for business owners to manage messaging, shopping, and insights.
  • Insights – Instagram provides an array of analytics and information for SMBs on their audience and engagement. This information provides insights that businesses can use to help better understand and target their audience.
  • Get creative – To cut through your audience’s Instagram feed, make the most of creative tools and apps, such as Instagram’s Hyperlapse and Boomerang, to take a simple product and make it pop.
  • Use the tools – Instagram offers a variety of tools that drive customers to an action. For example, Instagram’s Shopping tool allows the customer to click through to the product, or the ‘Swipe Up’ feature allows small businesses to direct customers to your website through Instagram Stories.

Using these tools, small businesses can reach their customers in fun and creative ways and potentially reach new audiences around Australia and the world.

Joel Kimber, Senior Social Media Specialist, Employsure
The best way to use social media is to interact with the people who use it. You want to be able to connect, educate and inspire your audience. It’s easy to fall into the trap and think social media is a tool to acquire new leads, showcase their products and brag about their achievements. Small businesses can make the most of social media by engaging with their local communities or their target niche. Provide valuable knowledge, answer questions, be a source of innovation and information. Actively engage with your community, share their stories, ask them questions, ask them for reviews and use their feedback to improve your business. People trust other people far more than they trust brands, utilise this fact and let your customers and audiences be your biggest spokespeople on Social Media.”

Tracy Hall, Marketing Director, GoDaddy ANZ
If you’re looking for ways to connect with your customers, maximise your reach and build an online presence, social media can be a great resource for your business.

It’s easy to think that you should be active across all social media channels in order to maximise your marketing strategy, but there may only be a select few that are suitable for your particular business or service industry. Research which channels are most appropriate to reach your target customers. For example, if your business can provide strong images such as fashion or floristry, Instagram, with its ‘hot spots’ and ‘swipe-up-to-shop’ options, could be an appropriate channel to reach the right people.

Once you have identified the appropriate social media channels for your business to target potential customers, you can then focus your energy on effectively optimising the performance of those channels.

David Jackson, Committee Member of Sydney Angels and CEO, S2M
The first thing to realise is that the vast majority of scattergun social media is completely pointless for most small businesses.

The second thing to understand is that you need to assess your target market carefully, and find out what social media they are using. If you are a B2B business selling to procurement managers, they are unlikely to be successfully influenced through Instagram, but they may be on LinkedIn. However, if you are an online B2C company selling to millennials, Instagram or Facebook may be great channels where LinkedIn certainly is not.

Once you understand which channels may actually be effective, social media then requires a well-thought-out strategy to actively engage your audience in a conversation that builds trust and familiarity, and that adds value to THEM. Random content or jumping straight into sales mode will not be effective.

John Tabari, Co-Founder, ClassBento
Before you begin to delve into social media tactics, there are two essential things you need to understand. The first is your audience segments, not just at a demographic level (eg. a female aged between 18 to 35) but at a human level, (eg. Jane lives in Bondi, loves yoga and eats organic). You need to build lists of these human level segments and think as Google put it in micro moments. Ask yourself when is Jane on social media? Which platform does she use and why? And how can I best connect with Jane in that specific moment?

The second is asking yourself why your business is doing what it’s doing. This core ethos is what you should push on social as it is heartfelt, personal and the most powerful marketing tool you have.

Once you have that foundation of understanding, it’s just about staying up to date. Keep on top of new social updates and trends and execute them well – there are too many brands shooting video in landscape mode when everyone is consuming content on smartphones and portrait works best. Remember that the majority are watching videos on mute so adding subtitles and captions can have a huge impact on engagement.

At ClassBento, we’re a marketplace for fun workshops. Our social mission is to improve the well being of Australians by encouraging them to learn new skills and discover new hobbies that will allow them to switch-off and make something with their hands. So for us, social is about sharing the stories of our artists and makers and inspiring mindfulness through making.

Tanya Creer, Digital Business Advisor, Digital Business Solutions
When it comes to social media it’s easy to forget that what we are trying to do is start a conversation – and get prospective clients to participate. Not just because it helps analytics but because it helps sales. Small businesses have more opportunity than ever before to get people talking about their products or services, but knowing the right applications and tools might feel a bit like putting together an IKEA coffee table with no instructions.

You know it’s doable. It’s just very confusing – and even with the instructions right in front of you, chances are you might go wrong. The key to success is great content, knowing the right applications and converting this knowledge into sales.

Nicola Moras, Social media strategist, author of Visible
Small business owners can leverage the trillions of dollars being spent online when they use it effectively, by increasing their visibility on social platforms. The creation of fresh, digital content daily on the social channels, for example, using a mixture of photos and text posts, is crucial to appear regularly in the feed of your audience. The rise of video consumption has increased dramatically, and the platforms are prioritising the placement of videos in newsfeeds without you having to spend a cent, which means more eyes on your content.

Remember to be obvious about how people can buy from you with a clear call to action shared regularly.

 

Hugh Stephens, founder and CEO, Sked Socia
Social media is a cost effective, relatively simple channel to use, that gives small businesses the ability to interact with potentially millions of customers around the world. Instagram alone has over 1 billion users, half of which use the platform daily. We know brands interact with Instagram 10 times more than they do with Facebook, while influencer marketing can drive 11 times more ROI than digital marketing. Every business, whether B2B or B2C, should have somewhat of an online presence, even if only a basic LinkedIn page. Consumers are savvier than ever and often, will look a business up online before making a purchase. Not having an online presence in today’s digital-first market can damage your brand’s credibility. Using social media not only provides a way to market your products and brand, it provides a medium through which businesses can engage with and create active dialogue with their customers.

Sharon Brown- Cikos, Head of Marketing, EasyShed
Aside from the obvious benefits of reaching and communicating with customers through the extensive advertising tools, Social Media provides an opportunity for small businesses to create a community, boost website traffic and grow their brand. Channels like Facebook and Instagram allow customers to discover more about products & services, and in turn provide your business with valuable insights. Social media helps small businesses establish a voice and maximise reach, be it via sharing customer feedback or company updates. This channel is vital in engaging and serving your customers better. At EasyShed we regularly engage with customers via Social channels and obtain actionable insights around improving after sales service for our products.

Jordan Sim, Group Product Manager, BigCommerce
At their core, social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram were built with the intention to build and maintain personal relationships. When brands started piling onto the platforms, they treated the channels in much the same way: as a tool to identify and engage with their customers. But in recent years, the purpose of the platforms have expanded to also include product discovery, which presents Aussie brands a huge opportunity to leverage social content as a sales tool to drive conversion.
In particular, Instagram’s Shoppable feature on posts and stories makes the shopping journey more seamless as users no longer have to leave the app to purchase goods. The process for browsing to buying has been simplified — connecting brands with their customers directly. This is undeniably valuable for small businesses, as it gives them the ability to track every detail related to each post, from impressions and reach to likes, comments, and saves. We’re now at a point where we can directly attribute sales to social content and most importantly, businesses have an understanding of the popularity of their products and where they should continue to invest the time, cost and resources.

Dipra Ray, CEO, mPort
Small businesses can make the most of social media by leveraging the following of their existing followers and influencers. If targeted correctly, your message can be easily disseminated to thousands of dedicated followers with similar interests and values to your brand. This in turn can generate potential leads and build brand awareness at an affordable cost, unlike traditional media which can be an expensive and long process. At mPort, we’ve also used social media to build our own community, where people can share their fitness achievements with each other and receive support and encouragement from their fellow mPort users. This builds trust and authenticity in our product and creates a positive environment for our members to achieve real body change.

Nathan Ruff, CEO, HooZu
Diversify your online marketing channels and decide which platforms are right for you. Be sure to include a mix of channels that best suit your brand and objective and ensure you are utilising the right platforms to target customers you want to attract. Cross promotion is also key across multi-channels. It is therefore important to know your target audience on each platform and be sure to tailor the content specifically to each of them in order to keep it relevant. This technique will help to expand your business enormously.

Another way businesses can make the most of social media is to use the right tool. Not only does this save you time and endless to-do lists but it can also save money and resources! Some of our favourites at Hoozu are Relay That, Asana, Latergram, and Canva. Other tips include knowing your audience, using FB ads, darkposting content, influencer marketing and creating and sharing compelling content.

Luke McNeal, Director of Workplace Asia Pacific, Facebook
There are now 5 generations in the workforce – which means building culture and driving employee engagement is a tough job. But there are tools to help and SMBs are missing a trick if they don’t make the most of these collaboration and social networking tools.

In Australia, we’ve seen how SMBs like ‘Spell & The Gypsy Collective’ use Workplace by Facebook to empower employees to be part of a community and build meaningful relationships at work.

Using social media tools as a form of collaboration helps businesses simplify internal communications allowing team members to work smarter, make better decisions, and take decisive action. It also allows leaders to more easily engage their teams and help them achieve their best. This humanises a business and helps employers keep their finger on the pulse of what’s going on and what really matters. And ultimately a connected business means better productivity, which in turn will boosts a business’ bottom line.

Sharon Brown- CIkos, Head of Marketing, EasyShed
Aside from the obvious benefits of reaching and communicating with customers through the extensive advertising tools, Social Media provides an opportunity for small businesses to create a community, boost website traffic and grow their brand. Channels like Facebook and Instagram allow customers to discover more about products & services, and in turn provide your business with valuable insights. Social media helps small businesses establish a voice and maximise reach, be it via sharing customer feedback or company updates. This channel is vital in engaging and serving your customers better. At EasyShed we regularly engage with customers via Social channels and obtain actionable insights around improving after sales service for our products.

Jade Hirniak, Co-founder, The Volte
Set measurable social media goals and objectives that have a real impact on your business; it’s not just about getting likes! Target potential customers through different channels using a diverse marketing strategy. Focus on gaining an organic following.

Adam Noall, APAC Channel Director, BlueJeans
No matter the scale of their operations, every business needs to evaluate whether their internal collaboration tools help or hinder their teams to deliver. Social media is one tool which strengthens the connection between executives and their employees, ensuring the intentions of leadership are seen and heard.

It’s natural to interact across levels when working in a small team, but as a business grows, executives need to prioritise maintaining this transparency and approachability. Unfiltered access to the executive vision and strategy is what’s appreciated most across any organisation. Investing in an in-house social platform and other tools for internal collaboration is a minor investment which can reap major rewards, as trust in the business flows from top down.

There’s more at stake for small business leaders than their big league counterparts when it comes to company culture. Collaborating with their employees through social media and other workplace tools will keep a leader’s image and direction front of mind.

GO1’s VP of Marketing, Scott Cooper
Many small businesses fall into the social media ‘trap’ of using social media platforms to push their promotional materials out to the world at regular intervals. Rather than doing this, focus more on generating engagement — call to action — with your posts by asking questions and involving your audience in the discussion. This is a great way to easily build up an online community and tap into your potential buyers. And with the brand association of you facilitating the discussion, this will lead to further interactions with your products or services.

By not using social media as a megaphone, you can make it a place for meaningful discussion and leverage your social media accounts to maximum potential.

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