Social media is a free marketing tool that gives your brand or company exposure to millions of customers, and these days it is imperative for every business to have a social media presence.
So, why social media?
Well, firstly the world is on it, and you are connecting with local, national and international markets in a way that was never before possible; from pinning your products onto Pinterest, to chatting to customers in America on Twitter, social media opens up sale avenues that were previously difficult to crack, or unobtainable.
Social media is free. Previously companies would have had to fork out hundreds and thousands on advertising and marketing campaigns. These days you can come up with a social media strategy promoting your business across all of the platforms for free. Adverts and boosting posts on Facebook and Twitter do cost, but it's low cost and nothing compared to previous advertising costs.
Social media is fantastic for networking; you can chat with your customers on Twitter and create a buzz about your business, you can organise events through Facebook to meet like-minded individuals, you can connect with local business people through LinkedIn.
Social media is also great for researching and checking out the competition. Signing up for social media management software such as Hootsuite or Sprout Social will mean you can keep track of your analytics to see which statuses are most popular and the audience you are attracting. You can also see what your competition are doing for your own social media strategies.
Which social media platform?
Facebook: Fantastic for businesses as can run competitions, set up events and promote on your page. Number one social media platform.
Twitter: 140 character statuses - great for chatting, networking and interacting with customers.
Instagram: Photo-based platform - great for sharing products.
Pinterest: Picture-based platform - great for sharing products and creating mood boards.
LinkedIn: Business platform - fantastic for networking and a lot of companies use this for headhunting.
Google+: Similar to Facebook and Twitter with statuses. Useful for sharing statuses and blog posts, as these show up in a Google search. "Google Hangouts" are fantastic - you can have conference calls with customers or stockists.
Creating a brand on social media
If you decide to use more than one social media platform it's important to keep your names and bios consistent, for example, if you have a Facebook page, Twitter account and Instagram account give them the same name i.e. "The Cake Company" (Facebook), @thecakecompany (Twitter) and @thecakecompany (Instagram). This will make it much easier for customers to find you!
Keep your profile pictures (or avatars) appropriate for your brand; your logo makes a great avatar!
Make sure your content and statuses are appropriate for your company; there's nothing worse than following a company who tweet out or share inappropriate content. Think about what you're sharing and how it reflects on your company.
Most importantly, as imperative as social media now is to society and your business, remember that you are exposing yourself to the world, and anything and everything you say is in the public domain.