Here is the first in a four-part series of interviews I gave to a digital radio show. How Should Small Businesses Approach Social Media?
Let’s Talk Business Interview: How Should Small Businesses Approach Social Media?
Alan: It’s hard to imagine that Social Media has been around for over ten years. It seems that business has only woken up though to its possibilities in the last two. Many businesses struggle or don’t bother. Katherine Hanson runs a Social Media training company called Soci@lite. I managed to grab her for a few minutes straight after one of her presentations. How should small businesses approach Social Media?
Katherine: Firstly they need to look at their goals, what they want to achieve from Social Media and then put together a strategy. So, be it to increase awareness of their website, to introduce people to new products and services, to update people on developments. There are really are lots of different ways you can use Social Media but you need to be clear from the beginning.
Alan: So, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, all the manner of things. Which is best?
Katherine: I would never say that one is better than the other. It really depends what your business offers and what you’re trying to achieve. LinkedIn for example is a professional network so it’s very different from say Facebook or Twitter. If you’ve got time to have lots of conversations with people Twitter may suit you as it can be very labour-intensive. Facebook’s more suited to us as visual creatures so photos, images, that sort of thing and more video sharing. So it really depends.
Alan: So Facebook really is one you have your friends and family on and LinkedIn probably isn’t one that you’d have your friends and family on. Where do you draw the line with Facebook?
Katherine: You create a Page. So rather than trying to encourage people to be aware of you through your account, you set up a Business Page which is a completely separate entity and you use that to promote your business. And you can then keep your more personal stuff just for genuine friends and family.
Alan: And Twitter itself is limited to 140 characters. It is quite limiting, so what would be the best thing people can do when they’re using Twitter?
Katherine: Firstly, get familiar with the terminology. Twitter do produce a glossary which gives you lots of tips on short words you can use which are going to resonate with people. Use #hashtags because those are like keywords that people will pick up on. Use link shorteners – so include a link to your website for example but use a link shortening tool to shorten it so that you only use the minimum number of characters.
Alan: Should everybody in business have a LinkedIn Page [account]?
Yes, absolutely. It’s a professional network. I believe 175 million people around the world use it in business so it’s very influential. It didn’t start off as a social network. Historically it was a CV posting and recruitment website – that’s changed immensely now. But even more now, being on LinkedIn adds a great deal of credibility to a business.
Alan: So people sort of count the number of people on their LinkedIn network. I don’t think it goes above 500, it just says 500+. Is more followers a good thing to have?
Katherine: I wouldn’t say so – it’s not necessarily quality over quantity. You can have over 500+ people connected with you on LinkedIn but not actually resonate with any of them. Or you can have a small number of connections that do see what you’ve written and engage with you. It’s not a popularity contest or about quantity.
Alan: It all sounds very time-consuming and labour intensive.
Katherine: It doesn’t have to be. You just have to be savvy with what you use your Social Media channels for. It’s equivalent to checking your email every 15 minutes – you don’t need to do it. It won’t make you work any better, it’s not productive if and I think it’s a distraction. It’s the same with Social Media. Set aside maybe half an hour a week with a glass of wine. Go through everything that’s happened that week. And you’ll probably find that you’ve subconsciously thought about what you can say. And try not to be using it all the time because then you will get fatigue with it and get bored quite quickly. If you leave a gap of say a week, by the time you come round to using it again you’re going to have fresh ideas.
Alan: What are the smart people doing in their Social Media sphere?
Katherine: They are looking at the analytics behind what they’ve posted. So with Facebook for example you can go into the back end (once you’ve reached 30 Likes) and look at how many people have liked the content you’ve posted, what resonated the most with people, so what received the most clicks for example. Then you can tweak your activity accordingly. Savvy users are also listening to their followers, listening to what they do and don’t Like and then engaging accordingly.
Alan: A few years ago it was all about blogging. Is that now dead?
Katherine: Absolutely not. Blogging is still alive and kicking and still very much a part of Social Media. Social Media is about empowering people – giving customers them the opportunity to connect and engage with you. That’s ultimately what blogging does and that’s partly why it’s so popular and so effective. And in an increasingly content-driven digital playing field, blogging is an invaluable component of any Social Media strategy.
Originally broadcast in 2013 by 5 Digital for Alan Coote’s weekly programme Let’s Talk Business).