Social media is a highly valuable marketing tool for self-employed individuals. Alongside maintaining an active profile on LinkedIn, it is worth considering the use of other sites for your business activities. Social media has become an integral part of business and is used daily to market products/services, increase brand exposure and connect customers to develop new business. It’s important for you to invest in the platforms where you're more likely to reach and engage with your audience. Here’s an overview of some of the main social media platforms to help you determine which ones will reach and engage with your target audience.
Facebook is the largest social media platform and so out of all the examples here, it is a good place to start, especially if you are new to social media. You can use Facebook to share photos, videos, important company updates on a company page. Using Facebook is a low cost marketing tool, with some other benefits including the ability to provide quick customer service, communication with existing and potential customers, answering enquiries through Facebook Messenger, the ability to promote and advertise your business through a company page and posts raising business awareness through “likes”.
Google Plus (also known as Google+) is a social networking service from Google. Creating a Google + page for your business means your business will show up in Google searches with company reviews, photos, and contact information. Google+ has features such as “Hangouts” (video chat) and “Communities”. The main page that appears when you log in is a list of updates, conversations and shared content – similar in many ways to a Facebook news feed. You can categorise and organise people by adding contacts in your Google+ account and assign them to circles. You can then share messages with certain circles which gives you more flexibility in organising and reaching out to certain audiences. Google + increases your visibility on Google search by listing your business name and location on Google Maps.
Twitter is a social networking site where users post messages called “Tweets” to interact with other users. Twitter is used to connect people with the same interest by using “hashtags” (#). When a hashtag is added to a tweet it means that members of the Twitter community can join in the conversation. This is good for your business as you can instantly communicate with your customers, keep up to date with trends, opinions, industry news and competition.
Pinterest is an online visual pin board, it’s a bookmarking tool that helps you discover and save creative ideas. Pinterest has the highest revenue per click of any other social sharing network. Pinterest users interact each other by commenting on pins, liking or sharing. If your business involves anything creative such as fashion, art, food or home interiors then Pinterest will be a great platform to market your business through photos, blogs and infographics.
Instagram is an internet based photo-sharing application that allows users to share pictures and videos either publicly or privately to pre-approved followers. Having reached 150 million active users faster than any other Social Media platform, Instagram is used for visual marketing so you can enhance your branding and drive traffic towards your website. Some other benefits include the ability to create a branded hashtag, a live broadcasting feature, you can be creative with your content with the use of photographic filters or boost business results with featured ads this techniques will in turn increase your “followers” which will increase your brand presence and encourage people to buy into your product/service.
Social media platforms have a significant impact on the growth of small businesses. Having an online reputation can increase business and enhance your brand. Research has shown that 18% of all time spent online is spent on social networking platforms. They are becoming an essential part of marketing and the platforms are getting more popular every year. Research the right platforms for your business and make the most of expanding your customer base and gaining extra exposure for your business and services.
Some of the benefits of a having a social media presence can include;
Networking through social media sites is all about building relationships and interacting with others through digital platforms, skills which are essential if you are a freelancer or a consultant who needs to find work from a different customers to make a profitable portfolio of work. Think about the platforms your potential clients would use, and research demographics. If you think your customers are reachable through Facebook, then setting up a Facebook company page is going to make your business visible and could help boost sales. Social media sites help establish a reputation for you, and a positive reputation can only help when trying to attract new business. It’s important to consider the time and commitment you need to invest in managing your social media presence, which can mean responding to feedback and producing new content.
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