I’m launching a business where I make my own cheese and sell it online, as well as at local food markets.
I’ve set up a website but I’m not sure where, or even how to get started building a social media presence for my business.
I know it could be a good way to get in front of my target audience, but it looks complicated, and hard work.
I don’t have much time to spend updating it and I’m worried that, if I don’t get thousands of followers, it won’t drive enough sales to be worth the effort.
Should I bother with a business social media account? What platforms are worth using? How can I make sure it brings customers to my website? Via email
Social networks: Launching your business on social media can seem overwhelming, but it can be a great tool to drive traffic to your website or online store
Emilia Shovelin for This is Money, says: Social media platforms are a great way to spread the word about your business, but not every platform is suitable for every kind of business.
It’s important to consider exactly what it is you want to get out of your social media strategy – whether you are looking for visitors to your website, sales of your products, or just to make people aware that you exist.
It’s a good idea to set out your goals first, before deciding on the best platforms to use.
Which social media platforms should I use for my business?
From Twitter to Facebook, YouTube to TikTok, there are endless social media platforms that you could use to drum up support for your business and start attracting potential customers.
For those who mostly serve customers face-to-face, rather than online, Ben Law, vice president and head of UK and Ireland at the website hosting platform GoDaddy, says creating a profile on Google Business is a good place to start.
This allows them to show up on Google Maps and in Google search, and control the information that customers see when they find their business.
‘It’s suitable for all kinds of businesses,’ says Law. ‘But it’s especially useful for business that serve a specific local area either via a physical premises that people can visit, such as a café, or without a premises that people can visit, such as a plumber.’
Reading up: There are a plethora of social media sites that you could use to promote your business, but each one is different, so be sure to do your research
So, if you have a shop front, cafe or restaurant, or a physical studio that customers would need to visit to pay for your services or products, then its always worth creating a detailed Google Business profile.
More traditional platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter can also be a great way to raise awareness and start selling quickly.
Ben added: ‘Facebook is still the leading social network out there and the chances are plenty of your customers will be using it. That in itself is a decent argument for setting up a Facebook page for your business.
‘Another good reason is Facebook’s ad platform, which many small businesses find is an excellent way to drive sales because of its powerful targeting options.
‘Instagram may be owned by Facebook, but it still has its own social media niche – namely images. That means Instagram is great for businesses that have strongly visual brands. Think fashion brands, or restaurants.’
What should I be posting on my social media profiles?
Once you’ve decided which social media platforms you want to use, you’ll need to consider the type of content that you want to upload.
If you have a restaurant, tattoo artist or online clothing store, posting images on Instagram can work really well for attracting visitors – but if your business is focused on skill-based services such as website development or content writing, then you may want to stick to a more conversational platform like Twitter.
Social media can be a great platform for businesses to promote their services or products, but to keep your followers loyal and engaged, you should post a range of interesting content
Law added: ‘The two broad categories of content are posts that educate or entertain your audience, and posts that promote your business.
‘The general rule of thumb is to aim for 80 per cent education and information, and 20 per cent promotional content.’
Bigger brands are also able to expand into creating their own content, aside from promotional, to attract fans of the brand, so it’s worth remembering you can always add more social media profiles to your business later on.
How do I start getting followers?
The aim of your social media strategy is to build your social following and engagement, with the ultimate end-goal of attracting customers to your services or products.
Getting new social media followers can be a challenge, particularly if you’re just starting out on a platform, but by consistently posting entertaining, informative, or engaging content, you can usually build a following within a few months.
Searching question: Some social media sites use hashtags to help users search for related content, whereas others use forums or topics
These techniques should help attract followers who are interested in your business and what you have to say.
Connect with existing customers: If you already have existing customers, make sure they know where they can connect with you on social media.
Engage with people: Engage with people who mention your brand, but don’t directly contact you. Monitor mentions of your brand on social media to see what people are talking about you.
If someone has had a bad experience, get in touch to see what you can do to help. If they’ve had a good experience, thank them for their kind words.
Make a content plan: Building up social media followers can take time. That can be discouraging, and many businesses give up on social media because of it.
By making a content plan that lasts for at least three months, you’ll make sure that you’ve got a regular flow of posts and you’re less likely to run out of steam.
Be sure to do your research on the best way to get in front of your target audience, as each platform is slightly different, for example, Twitter uses topics and themes, whereas Instagram tends to prefer hashtags for sharing content.
How much time should I commit to my social media?
The average small business commits 1 hour, 22 minutes per day to their social media presence
There is no strict guidelines for how much of your time you should put into your social media presence, and it is completely personal to you and your business goals.
How much time you dedicate to growing your social presence depends on how quickly you want to build your following, how engaged with your consumers you are, and simply, how much time you have spare to create new content.
A couple of hours a day to create content, post, and respond to your followers is a good rule of thumb to help you get started, but don’t worry about agonising over the tiny details if you feel you need to give your business attention elsewhere.
Law said: ‘A VerticalResponse survey discovered that 43 per cent of small business owners spend six hours per week on social media marketing.
‘Over a five-day work week, that amounts to one hour and twelve minutes per day, which seems reasonable for many small businesses.’
Should I pay to promote my social posts and how much does it cost?
Sponsored posts are a great way to reach your target audience quickly.
But, you should bear in mind that the best social media strategy is one that gets your target followers to engage with your brand of their own accord.
So while you may benefit from an uplift in traffic or conversions, you should try to keep a moderate balance of organic and paid content.
Cost considerations: Paid social media posts can be a great way to reach your target audience quickly, but cost per click can get expensive, averaging up to £500 a month
How much you are charged for your paid social posts depends on the platform.
Small businesses tend to spend anywhere between £300 and £500 per month, mostly through cost per click advertisements, which usually start from around 30p per click.
You will pay a specific amount every time someone clicks on your social post, but this doesn’t automatically mean they will be converted into a sale.
Ben added: ‘There are no guarantees in terms of who sees your unpaid posts: while some of your content might score a ton of engagement, other posts might feel like they’re totally hidden.’
‘In contrast, social ads essentially ensure that your posts are getting views. If you want more eyeballs on your business’ content without worrying about algorithms or restricted reach, ads can do the trick.’
Just be sure to do the calculations after a few weeks of testing to see if you are getting your moneys’ worth from your advertising.
Should you consider paying someone to manage your social media?
If all of this is starting to sound like too much work, then it may be worth paying a professional to handle your social media presence.
You can hire agencies or freelancers to help you create your strategy and manage your day-to-day online activity – but it comes at a cost
You can hire a freelancer to work with you regularly – though this can get quite pricey depending on hourly rates.
You could also speak to a marketing and social media agency, who may be able to offer a reasonable contract to manage and grow your business online.
To get the most out of your social media, you need to be consistent, engaging and active, so if you feel you don’t have the time, it’s definitely worth considering hiring someone to help you out.
Ben concluded: ‘By now you know that you can’t approach social media in a disorganised, fly-by-night manner. You must be strategic, thoughtful and on the money.
‘In other words, managing your social media accounts is a full-time job. If you are treating it as an afterthought, you may not seeing the full potential.’
Be sure to do your research, and the maths, to see if you could benefit from hiring an expert to help you get the most out of your business social media.