Damian Routley, partner at advertising firm Adglow, explains why social media should be at the forefront of your marketing strategy and how you can get the most out of it.

Social media should no longer be left to the intern. It’s your opportunity to build a community, nurture it and then actively push your product or service. As a continuing test-and-learn exercise, you don’t need to talk about strategy as a small business, you can afford to experiment to find out what really works to drive engagement and conversions.

Social media shouldn’t be an afterthought when we’re talking about platforms that give you access to billions of people. You don’t need to worry about organic growth when you can put £100 behind a promoted post and open yourself to a highly relevant audience numbering millions.

So, here are a few tips to get you started on your social media journey:

1. Define habits

Firstly, figure out your audience’s social media habits and set yourself up across every social media platform. Even if only a few work best for you it’s good to have ownership of your branded presence if only to stop others from squatting on them.

Try to keep the same handle throughout – you need to think about your brand from a top level point of view.

2. Plan content

Once you have all this formed, you need to consider what content goes where, why and how – ensuring this ties back to the bigger aims of your business. Don’t just think nine-to-five or about one location; social media is 24-hour and you’ll reach a target audiences across markets.

There are a huge amount of tools to use that mean you and your team can keep your feeds updated, even while you’re sleeping. Buffer, Hootsuite, Crowdfire – they all have lean options for startups.

3. Create a schedule

For some social media platforms you only need to post a couple of times a day – the platform’s algorithm will do the rest. But for content on Twitter or videos on Snap, you may want to post more regularly and keep your feed updated.

For any content that is particularly important to you, or is performing well organically, give it a boost by putting some spend behind it. Once they’re up and running, you can check on them every day and figure out over time what is performing the best.

4. Aim for ‘wow’

When you create content, start with the ‘wow’ – people are drawn most to videos but images and text that stand out against the multitude of adverts, posts and videos seen on their feeds can also be engaging. Any content you create needs to pop when it’s competing with the crowd.

Experiment with colour, language, tags and text to see what gets the most traction. This rule also goes for specific adverts and promoted content – money may increase your potential reach, but it will be wasted unless you have engaging content.

5. Inspire your audience

Use humour, emotion, beauty or information in order to keep their eyes on the content. Topically anchored content can perform really well.

Give people a reason to read, watch or listen. Inspire them. Show them why they need you. Keep the call to action simple and minimal.

6. Find balance

With all your content you need to find a healthy balance between promotional and useful. Give people a reason to follow or like you by giving them information or posts associated with what you do. Use a 70:30 rule – 70% of the time you share complimentary content and 30% you sell you.

7. Play the long game

When it comes to adverts, aim to build conversions over time. The more familiar someone becomes with your brand, the more likely they are to click in the future. Vary your adverts, test out different messages and call to actions, react to what is happening in the world using your brand and be quick to make decisions.

The content you create doesn’t need to cost the earth – speed means just grabbing an iPhone camera or gif and making something rough and original. You’ll be amazed at what can be achieved with authenticity.

8. Educate your team

The final point is the importance of having buy-in from a high level. In large corporates or growth-stage brands, management needs to be made to understand social. This slows everything down, but you have the chance and ability to get the whole team thinking about social media. Have creative brainstorms, get everyone to understand the process and share the weight. Create some company rules for social media and get everyone to give it a go.

The bottom line is, when it comes to marketing your product, make sure social is key in your strategy and continuously adapt, test and learn. Social media can be quick and messy, but it can also be an incredibly effective channel with which small businesses can experiment.

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