A beginner’s guide to social media for small business

Part 3 in my series on how to get your business online.

Social media can be a powerful marketing tool for small businesses. It allows you to communicate directly with current and potential customers. You can update your followers with the latest news from your business, ask questions, direct people to your website, promote special offers, and build trust and understanding.

Here are some stats that might help you understand the power of social media for businesses:

  • 80% of Americans use social media
  • 53% of people using social media follow at least one brand or business
  • 48% of small businesses or solo-entrepreneurs boosted sales using social media (data from the infographic why your business must go social).

I’ve trawled through the Internet to create this beginner’s guide to social media for small businesses. I’ve included the basic facts on each network, plus the best resources to help you use social media for your business.

Before I go into details on the social networks out there that could benefit your business, I’m going to put a huge warning sign here:

Social media is a huge time sucker.

Here are my 3 main recommendations for using social media before you dive in:

  1. Be selective. Choose the social media platforms that suit your audience the best, and stick with them.
  2. Limit your time. When you decide to do your social media for the day, put a timer on for 20mins. When the timer goes off, log out. It’s very easy for me to say this when I rarely follow this rule! It is important limit your time on the unproductive aspects of social media, like reading all the random links that pop up (I do this all the time, but I’m trying to reduce my addiction to random information!). Also consider how important social media is versus simply picking up the phone and talking to people.
  3. Have a strategy. What are your goals for using social media? Who are you talking to? Who do you want to be known as? Do you want to be a guru on topics around your business, or an online whiner? Here is a good guide on Dreamglow for creating your social media strategy

Here is the low down on the most popular social media platforms – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Google + to help you decide which ones might work for your business.


Stick Around on Facebook

Stick Around on Facebook

How many people use Facebook? 900 million. It is the most popular social media platform.

Who are they? The largest segment of Facebook users are aged between 21 and 24. 31% of users check their Facebook more than once a day. Facebook users do 2.7 billion likes/comments per day. 56% of consumers say they are more likely to recommend a brand after becoming a fan on Facebook (Facebook stats).

What is Facebook? Facebook is a social networking service that lets you connect with friends, colleagues, and random people that you’ve met over your life. You can also follow businesses through their fan pages.

How can I use Facebook for my small business? Facebook is a great way to connect with your audience on a personal level. Create a Facebook fan page for your business, it’s not hard at all. Invite friends to like your business page, invite visitors to your website to like your fan page. Stick Around has 109 fans at the moment; Amit’s photography business has 422 fans.

Facebook is a great place to post your blog posts – the support I receive from Facebook about my blog posts is so incredibly encouraging!

Here are some top tips for managing your Facebook page:

  • invite your friends to like your page
  • claim your vanity URL (eg. www.facebook.com/jo.savill)
  • post something about once a day
  • post interesting links that are relevent to your business, or promote your latest blog
  • ask questions and invite interaction.

Here are some great resources to help you use Facebook for your small business:


Jo Savill on Twitter

My profile on Twitter

How many people use Twitter? There are over 465 million Twitter accounts. It is the second most popular social network. Twitter users now send 175 million tweets every day (twitter stats).

Who are they? There are 108 million users in the US, 33 million in Brazil, and 30 million in Japan. 55% of Twitter users are women. 30% of twitter users have an income over $100,000.

What is Twitter? Twitter confuses a lot of people (including me). People post message of 140 characters to all those that follow them. Your dashboard displays all the short posts from the people that you follow. The platform is a way to build interest in your business from people you don’t know by connecting with opinion leaders on your topic area and tweeting regularly about a particular topic. You can also use hash tags, which are like giving subjects to your tweets. People search for particular topics using hash tags, and they can help your posts go viral i.e. #entrepreneurship, #scicomm.

How can I use Twitter for my small business? Here are my top tips:

  1. Be yourself – use your own name
  2. Write a profile that describes you, perhaps with something quirky
  3. Include your website in your profile
  4. Follow people that you know or who have similar interests to you
  5. Share your blog posts on twitter
  6. Share things that you’re interested
  7. Interact with others – reply to people who write something interesting.

Because Twitter is so confusing, here is a list of helpful resources to get you started:


LinkedIn - Jo Savill

My profile on LinkedIn

How many people use LinkedIn? 135 million

Who are they? 50/50 men and women. 23% aged between 35 and 44.

What is LinkedIn? LinkedIn is great for building professional networks. It’s an online resume, showing off your professional success. It has been used by job seekers for a while now, but small businesses and solo-entrepreneurs (solopreneurs) are finding it more and more useful now. There are also groups you can get involved in if you want to use it to raise your profile as an expert.

How can I use LinkedIn for my small business? A beginner’s guide on how to use LinkedIn by HubSpot – a great, easy to use guide on the basics of LinkedIn which will get you started and give you good tips on how to use it for your business

Here is another useful beginner’s guide on LinkedIn from Corn on the Job, with particularly good recommendations on the best way to connect to others.


pinterest- Jo Savill

My profile on Pinterest.

How many people use Pinterest? 10.4million. Pinterest is the third most popular social media site now, right behind Facebook and Twitter.

Who are they? 80% female, 85% have some university education, 30% are between 25 and 34 years old

What is it? It’s all about images. On your Pinterest profile you create pinboards, which can be in categories linked to your business. For example, I have boards entitled “Sustainability Science”, “Entrepreneurship”, “Great Science” and “Travel”. Your Pinterest newsfeed shows all the images that you and your friends have pinned, and you can like them and re-pin them. You can re-pin images that others have pinned, or pin images from websites onto your pinboards.

Pinterest is all about the visuals, so it’s fantastic for those of you in design, architecture, fashion, photography and art. It’s also great if you happen to be planning a wedding, re-decorating your house, or an avid cook.

How can I use Pinterest for my small business? Pinterest is mainly helpful for sharing your business image and values. Occasionally you can use it for self promotion. If others like your picture, it might go viral and get you more website hits.

To learn how to market your business using Pinterest, Aweber has a great guide that steps you through the process. Also handy to know is how to create pinable graphics. Also check out this Pinterest infographic for a great overview of Pinterest and how it works.

Google +

google plus - Jo Savill

My profile on Google +. You can also great a business page easily on Google +.

How many people use Google +? 90 million

Who are they? 67% are male, 20% are students, and other common professions are software engineers and consultants. Google + is mainly popular with nerds and technology-focused people.

What is it? Google’s version of Facebook.

How can I use Google + for my small business? There is one big advantage to using Google+: unlike Facebook, it is indexed by Google. That means your Google+ posts about your business can turn up on search engine results. Use it like you use Facebook, but things look prettier.

For more info on using Google + for your business, check out this excellent infographic by Chris Brogan.


Is your website good for sharing?

It is important to share your website and blogs regularly on your social networks, but also make sure your website is easy to share! Include ‘Like” buttons, and share buttons on each of your blog posts, and on your product pages.

I’d love to connect with you on these social networks!

This was Part 3 in my series on how to get your business online.
Part 3: A beginner’s guide to social media for small businesses
Jo Savill is a writer, science communicator and entrepreneur. Stay up to date with Jo’s writing by signing up to her newsletter


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