Social media is here to stay and can be a powerful marketing tool for small businesses.
In September 2021, market and consumer data company Statista revealed that 77.9% of UK adults are now using social media. Troublingly, a report by Statista two years previous also showed that the proportion of small businesses using social media compared to large businesses is notably lacking. It reported that 90.8% of large businesses with more than 1,000 employees use social media, while 69.6% of small businesses (employing between 10 and 49 staff) use any social channel for their business.
At Square, we know that time is a precious commodity for all business owners and operators — and having to manage your own social media pages can take time away from running your day-to-day operations or managing your accounts. Fortunately, the rapid developments in smartphones and other mobile devices, as well as cloud-based applications, have made jumping on social media faster and easier than ever before, so anyone can make the most of social media to grow their business.
5 benefits of social media for your small business
Consider the huge benefits that engaging in social media can bring to your business:
1. Increased brand recognition
Every opportunity you have to share your content and increase your business visibility is valuable. Just think of your social media networks as new channels for your brand’s voice.
2. Better customer service and insights
It’s becoming more and more common for customers to flock to social media to seek assistance, ask questions and provide feedback. Your business will miss those conversations, as well as the chance to prevent any bigger problems if you’re not on social media. This activity is also beneficial for generating data about your customers in real time, giving you great insight into their likes and dislikes.
3. Improved brand loyalty and conversion rates
Business owners who engage on social media channels are in constant dialogue with their customers, allowing them to build higher loyalty. Every post has the potential to connect you to new and repeat customers — and gives you the ability to make an impression with all of them.
4. Increased website traffic and search ranking
One of the biggest benefits of social media for business is the fact that it can increase your website traffic. Not only do social media posts drive new customers to your website, but the more social media shares you receive, the higher your search ranking will be.
5. Updates on what your competitors are doing
Social media monitoring can also help you gain key information about what your competitors are doing to drive business. This insight will allow you to make strategic business decisions to stay competitive.
Top Social Media Platforms to Get Your Small Business On
This free social networking service is built for those who want to share and view photos and videos. It launched in 2010 on iPhones, then on Android phones in 2012. Facebook bought the service that year.
According to market and consumer data company Statista, Instagram has around 28 million users in the UK. These users follow others they are interested in, which creates a feed on their homepage. Photos and videos can be liked, shared and commented on.
You can start an Instagram for Business account from scratch, or convert a personal account. Instagram for Business accounts have special features including buttons for specific actions that customers can take from your profile. These actions include making reservations, buying tickets or making appointments.
In 2020 Instagram unveiled Instagram Shoppable posts, through which, you can sell products directly from shoppers’ feeds.
If you have Square Online, you can extend reach and increase sales by connecting your product library to your Instagram account to make posts shoppable.
If you don’t have Square Online, you can still accept online payments for items on Instagram with Square Payment Links. It generates an online checkout link or button, which you can share in your Instagram bio or in a post.
The most popular social media platform began in Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg’s dorm room in 2004. As of 2021, the total number of UK Facebook users is over 51 million.
The website and app began by allowing users to connect with others via free profiles. It’s since grown into a valuable marketing and retention tool for businesses. And, in 2018, a Square survey of 1,800 US consumers revealed 52% had discovered new businesses through Facebook – a higher percentage than any other consumer channel.
Setting up a Facebook for Business page is free and simple. Before you do, make sure you know what you’re going to call the page and the contact details, and decide on a profile picture and cover photo to identify your business and draw customers in. When creating the page, fill in relevant info in the About section, sum up your business to date via the Our Story section. And don’t forget the call-to-action button in the top right – it directs users to your website or enables them to contact you.
That’s just the start. Once you have a business presence on Facebook, you can use Facebook Business Suite to help you organise and manage the page, as well as your Messenger and Instagram for Business accounts. Insights can help you analyse the success of your posts, your audience and overall performance.
This social network launched in 2006, based on an idea co-founder (and future Square CEO) Jack Dorsey had to create an SMS-based platform where users could let others know what they were up to via status updates. It was a huge hit and there are now more than 17 million UK users.
By setting up a Twitter account, you can join the throng and post tweets of no more than 280 characters to gain followers and appear in their timelines. You’ll need a Twitter handle – ideally your business name with an ‘@’ preceding it, so you can be identified and tagged in posts. And don’t forget to have a memorable profile picture and cover photo to visually represent you.
Once your business has a Twitter presence, be sure to follow the latest trends, and if possible, use them and add hashtags to increase visibility and gain followers. Try not to use too many or you may put people off, but relevant ones such as #entrepreneurship if you’re getting a business off the ground, attract like minded people. Interact with customers and influencers relevant to your business and you’ll find your number of followers will grow.
Twitter is a free platform but you can pay to promote your business. Promoted tweets appear in the feeds of people who might not follow you yet. They’re a really useful way to increase engagement and expand your reach. Similarly, you can also promote your account to attract users.
The newest name on our list, this Chinese video-sharing app started life as Duoyin in 2016. It went international as TikTok the following year and its popularity is growing rapidly. Based on 2020 forecasts, Statista reports the number of UK users is expected to reach more than 13 million in 2021.
TikTok has a younger demographic than the other platforms, with most users ranging between 16- and-24-years old, but its user base is expanding and now is a great time to jump on board. By making and posting short videos, brands are able to personalise products and connect in a unique way.
Signing up to use TikTok for business marketing is fast and easy. Once you’ve downloaded the app, you can sign up by connecting your Gmail, Twitter or Facebook accounts or start a fresh account with bio information and a short profile video.
It can take time to get used to TikTok’s tools for creating and editing videos, so practice before you go live. Check out what competitors do with the platform via the Discovery tab.
Humour and creativity are key to making TikTok content work. Consider making product demonstrations and tutorials, and show your fun side by taking part in song parodies and hashtag challenges to grow your visibility.