It is hard to imagine a world without social media now that it has become an integral part of our every day life, from influencing our purchase decisions to the next holiday destination or just keeping in touch with friends and family all over the world.

Utilising social media platforms to promote your business is essential in today’s day and age. Your target audience is highly likely to use at least one form of social media on a regular basis, whether that be Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Pinterest, Twitter etc.  The dynamics and capabilities of social media has advanced ten fold over the years, you can now directly target your next buyer or demographic target audience by gender, age, location, interests and activity.

As you build your following it is important to ensure that you are engaging your audiences with valuable content. With social media platforms being easily accessible with smart phones, it is obvious that the online community has little tolerance for self-promoters who view social media as a means for free advertising.  This means that many businesses face the challenge of ensuring the balance between engaging and promoting with their followers or potential customers.

Here are seven best practices for successfully engaging customers and promoting your small business through social media.

 

  1. Abide by the ‘one-in-seven’ rule.

This rule applies to promoting your business, it is where only one out of every seven posts overtly promotes your business. The remaining six should be focused on sharing valuable content to your followers that adds value to them. This does not mean that you still can’t promote your business in these other posts; you can do it discretely by still pairing it with great content.

  1. Ask conversation-starter questions.

Voicing or sharing opinions is a pastime that most people enjoy, get your Facebook fans to weigh in on topics and things that are relevant to your business, but also interesting or relatable to them.  You can also entice or reward your fans with prizes for getting involved in the conversation. For example, a fitness centre may ask fans to vote on their favourite sport in order to be entered into a draw to win private lessons for them and a friend who joins the club.  Remember, your questions should engage your followers and inspire them to refer business, while also giving you greater insight in to your target audience.

  1. Share your expertise.

There are many ways to use social media to engage with your audience, sharing your knowledge and expertise is one of them!  You can post fun facts or handy hints in the form of questions which encourages audience involvement.  Include a special offer or discount to the first person to answer correctly.  By doing these regularly, your followers will be on the look-out each month and visiting your page more often.

  1. Add value.

As well as connecting with your followers through interactive fun posts, it’s also important to provide them with content that directly benefits them.  Whether that is posting tips on best practice, such as a fitness personality posting a video doing different at home exercises, or offering a special on products or services, such as a free one month membership to the gym – these are all things that your followers will appreciate and are likely to refer your business to their friends and family.

  1. Enhance the rewards for referrals.

Everyone loves getting something for free or being rewarded for referring business.  Referrals are essentially free, so why not reward your followers for passing on your business details! Holding a promotion for reaching a certain number of followers on your social media platform, you will then provide a free service to the lucky follower.  Get creative! Think outside the square and try to build your followers for little expense.

  1. Create a Pinterest board.

Pinterest may be the ideal platform for your business, if you do use this ensure that your board has eye-catching visuals.  With so much choice and option available, you don’t have long to catch people’s attention.  You can also run a competition to inspire and reward customers for their participation.  Encouraging them to re-pin and create their own boards will have additional reach for your campaign.

  1. Avoid repetitive messages.

It’s quick and easy to post the same message to all of your social media platforms, but try to change the words for each platform to maintain sincerity and uniqueness behind the message.  Your fans may follow you on all social media platforms, they don’t want to see the same thing from you on each of these sites, so mix it up and keep people interested in what you are sharing.

 

It can be difficult to determine which social media network to focus on, especially if your customers are scattered across all of them.  Instead of sporadically posting on all platforms, ask your customers which one they spend most of their time on and focus your efforts on that one.

Social media is a fantastic tool to help your business grow.  Follow these simple tips to help you keep your audience engaged and inspired.