Effective use of social media can bring great opportunities for your business, but will require some thought and planning. Moving with fast-paced developments in online technology can help to enhance your brand, boost your profile and perhaps even win new business. However you need a healthy perspective on what your business is able to put into social media, and what’s realistic to expect in return.
Social media opportunities for business
Home computers, laptops, tablets, smartphones, even internet enabled televisions mean people can easily access the web from anywhere at any time. Faster connections, new devices and new online applications have all helped to change the way people work, socialise and shop.
It is now easier than ever for businesses to:
- directly target customers with marketing campaigns
- promote new products or services
- build brand awareness
- personally interact with existing and potential customers
- measure referrals from your social media activity to sales
Social media can be a cheap and effective way of starting a marketing campaign, with a big impact possible from minimal investment. Your social media strategy should contain a smart mix of engaging content and a friendly and responsive 'persona' can grow a focused community which is interested in your product/service/brand and can recommend your business to others.
Social media should be incorporated into your public relations (PR) strategy. PR means getting people to talk and think about your business in a positive way. Social media provides a platform for your customers to talk with each other. How you manage that platform and engage with what your customers are saying is an important part of your PR strategy.
Social media challenges for business
There are so many social media tools and platforms it can be hard to know where to begin. For small businesses the key issue is resource - if you don't have someone able to manage a social media campaign, it can be a drain on your time and a potential distraction from your core business. Some of the main challenges to consider are:
- What do you hope to achieve by using social media?
- How much time you can devote to social media?
- What are the most effective platforms to use?
- What are you trying to achieve for your business?
While social media gives you the chance to build brand awareness and customer loyalty, there are also dangers in participating in a public conversation forum. You need to have a clear idea of how to handle negative feedback about your business. You need to ensure that what you post and how you interact with people presents a professional image to the world. Writing down a set of rules for how you will manage social media can help you to steer through the challenges - see how to develop a social media strategy.
It's important to consider the legal implications and best practice using social media in order to avoid problems.
Business use of social media has also raised customer expectations. They now expect immediacy in their online interactions - where content is regularly updated and any comments they make are quickly replied to. You should consider how these expectations will be managed.
Know your legal responsibilities
- Do you need a licence?
- Get the right business insurance
- Comply with the law when providing goods and services
- Know your customers' rights
- Distance and online selling rules
- Understand pricing legislation
- Buying goods from outside NI
- Selling goods outside NI
- GDPR compliance checklist
- Pay your business rates
- Understand staff contracts and your responsibilities
- Taking on contractors and subcontractors
- Health and safety basics for business
- Know your legal obligations on pensions
Understand tax and VAT
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