This time 10 years ago, if you mentioned the phrase ‘social media’ at a business meeting, people would have looked at you as if you had two heads. It’s a term that some businesses have embraced, but that sends the fear of God into others.
Here at Living Magazines Cardiff, we’ve always been aware of how social media can help businesses of all shapes and sizes. While social media was initially poo-pooed as just a means of finding out what someone had for breakfast, it has become a key tool in engaging with your customers, sourcing new leads and even taking bookings. Perhaps its main benefit is that it serves as an interface between your business and the general public.
If you’ve never used social media before, here are a quick guide to four of the platforms that could help your business.
First launched in 2004, Facebook is a free social networking tool that can be used very effectively for business. Here, you can set up your own page (useful if you don’t have a website) where you can showcase your products and/or services. Members of Facebook can ‘like’ and ‘follow’ your page so that whenever you post something to your page (this could be some examples of your work perhaps, or maybe details of a special offer), your followers will see this on their news feed. You can post pictures, videos, or just plain old text but there are some businesses who rely entirely on Facebook for their custom. Facebook is free but you can pay for adverts that will pop up on other people’s news feeds.
Another free social media platform and also one of the giants. It took us a good few years to get our heads around Twitter but its potential is huge. Again, you have people following you, and seeing whenever you post anything. Unlike Facebook, Twitter’s posts are only limited to 140 characters (although there is talk of increasing this limit). The beauty of Twitter is that you can search for people and topics using the hashtag (#) sign. If you’re looking for someone posting about plumbing, simply search using #plumbing and Twitter will throw up a list of so-called ‘tweets’ (a tweet is something that someone has posted). People can also retweet anything you post to their list of followers so if they’ve got a lot of followers, your reach can be quite substantial. We retweet all our advertisers from their Twitter accounts to our thousands of followers for free, offering our advertisers extra value for the price of one advert.
Instagram is similar to the two above but its focus is more on photos and videos. If you’re running a business that sells products, this is a great way of showcasing your stock.
YouTube is an online video-sharing website. After Google, it is the second most popular place for people to search for stuff. If you’ve got the know-how, why not create your own YouTube Channel, offering videos of your products or services? Using video in such a great way really helps you connect with both existing and new customers.
This sounds nasty but it can work in your favour if you are a business. Here’s an example of how social media can be used to create viral marketing:
Here at Living Magazines, we posted a news story about one of our advertisers called Emily Kingman. Emily is an optician in the village of Rhiwbina where one of our magazines is based. In 2015, Emily won a very prestigious award naming her as Optician of the Year.
Naturally, we wanted to share this news so we posted the story on our website and shared it on Facebook and Twitter. The story went ‘viral’, meaning that lots of people shared the story with their friends on social media. With lots of people sharing the story with their friends, the story that Emily was an award-winning optician raised her profile within the community.
Not every story goes viral of course, but this is a perfect example of how we use our social media platforms to help local businesses.
Here at Living Magazines, we support all our print-based adverts with an online presence. All of our advertisers get a free listing on our online business directory and we back that up with a regular Facebook posts and tweets to our thousands of followers. We’ve had some fantastic feedback from our advertisers, both for our print-based advertising as well as our social media presence. It just goes to show that social media is not something to be feared, but to be embraced.