Whether you’re a Facebook fan, an avid tweeter or an Instagram addict, social media can be a great opportunity for you to connect with customers and your community, and open up new sources of business.
But even if you already have personal accounts, using social media to promote your work may not come naturally. If you’re not sure how to make the most of these networks for business, here are some tips to help you get started.
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Which social media platform is right for your business?
Most of the traders we speak to prefer to use Twitter and Facebook, but each platform has pros and cons, so do a bit of research to help you decide which will work best for you.
Your choice might depend on how much time you have. It’s better to be really engaged on one platform than halfhearted on three. You also need to be able to maintain your level of activity in the long term, as it can be off-putting to customers if your accounts suddenly go silent.
There are several options to choose from:
Twitter restricts you to short posts, but it can be easier to reach more followers and network with other local businesses.
Facebook allows you to set up a business page to share information and updates about your company.
Instagram is image-dominated, so you’ll need to be able to take lots of eye-catching pictures that showcase your work.
YouTube is video-based, so might be a good choice if you want to make video tutorials, such as ‘how to’ guides.
LinkedIn is used mainly for professional networking and staff recruitment.
You can no longer use Google+, as consumer accounts were shut down in 2019.
How to get started on social media
When you set up your account or page:
- use a good-quality profile picture and banner image
- fill in your biography with information about what you do
- add a link to your website or Trusted Traders profile so people can find out more about you, or contact you.
Start sharing positive stories about your business, showing people what’s special about your company.
If friends and family live in the area covered by your business, you can ask them to like or follow your account, and share it with their contacts to start spreading the word.
You can also try using popular hashtags for your trade or your local area, as including these in your posts can help people to find you.
If you’re using Facebook, most local areas have their own dedicated Facebook groups where you can publicise your services. Gareth Williams, owner of Gareth Williams Heating, finds that it brings in the business. ‘I probably get about five or six boiler installations a year just from Facebook groups,’ he said. ‘It’s really good advertising, and most of it’s free.’
Managing your social media business network
- The number one rule is to keep your posts professional. Remember that it’s not your personal account, and topics that your friends might find funny won’t necessarily go down so well with potential customers. Steer clear of potentially controversial topics such as politics.
- Try to post regularly to keep your account active. On some channels, such as Facebook, you can schedule several posts in advance if you find that easier.
- Respond promptly to messages, particularly enquiries from potential customers. Existing customers may also use social media as a platform for complaints. Receiving a complaint publicly might feel like a bad thing, but replying quickly and professionally can demonstrate to others how effectively you resolve problems.
- If you aren’t confident using social media or don’t think you’ll have the time for it, ask if someone else in your company wants to take it on. Make sure this is someone who understands social media and the responsibility they will have for representing your brand.
Once you’ve got your account up and running, make sure it has the impact you’re hoping for with our six tips to stand out on social media.
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