Welcome to The Pivot Pod, where we'll figure out together what's next for small business. Hosted by Frances Cook, with a new expert on each episode. Today it's how you can use social media to get your business online.
As the various levels of Covid-19 lockdown have rolled out, a saving grace for businesses has been the online world.
If you've got a digital presence it's easier to tell customers what they can still get from your business, to let them order, and to arrange delivery of products and services.
Listen to the podcast episode here:
But if you've been an offline business until now, it's more difficult.
Websites take skill and expertise to set up, and can be expensive.
Enter social media. It's a more accessible way to turn your business digital, and most of us have a passing familiarity with how it works.
But it does still require skill, to make sure you get the opportunities without falling into one of the traps.
So on The Pivot Pod I talked to Herald social media producer Mitch Powell for some dos and don'ts.
Do pick your social media based on who your customers are
Different people use different platforms. So while it's tempting to try to be everywhere, it's a good idea to start out with one social media site first, based on who your customers are.
"LinkedIn can be a really strong platform for business-to-business sales. Whereas business to consumer, depending on your business, Facebook and Instagram can be quite big there," Powell said.
"Your product and service, and therefore the audience that are going to be using them, is what will decide where you will push that content."
Do walk a fine line between being friendly and professional
A few business owners have hit the headlines recently for odd social media posts, and most of us don't want to join that club.
Powell said social media offered a great opportunity to personalise your business, and let people peek behind the curtain to the people running it. But you still need to be professional.
"Social media can be a way to really personalise the tone of your organisation, and connect with customers quite closely, build a really strong relationship," he said.
"[For small business] it is a really great opportunity to create close links with customers, and you can speak quite personally to them, one-on-one.
"I would say actually take that opportunity to use more colloquial language, talk to them like you are talking to a person, rather than the business speaking to them."
Do consider using paid ads to boost your social media audience
If you're starting from scratch, you won't have a very big audience. Gone are the days when the tech companies let you reach their users for free - to get some momentum, you're going to need to buy some ads.
"If you are just getting started you won't have much organic reach," Powell said.
"The bottom line is, to reach your customer base in the short-term, you'll need to put some paid spend behind some of the content that you're marketing."
Don't spend lots of money by trying to advertise to everyone under the sun
Nobody has much spare cash right now, so you want to make sure any ads are hyper-targeted at your ideal customer. You can even use online ads to rediscover current and past customers.
"Something most businesses will have is a big bank of email addresses," Powell said.
"You can take that list of emails and put that into Google's ad manager programme that Facebook uses, anyone with a Facebook business page can use that. Then you can spend money to cross over and target those people that you had."
Powell also recommends thinking about age, location, and other characteristics of your ideal customer, and setting up ads to target them.
Listen to the full interview on The Pivot Pod episode above.