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Business TipsPosted by The Biz Expos Fri, September 08, 2017 14:45:14

The invention of the social media platform is a brilliant thing. Not only can you now stalk your favourite celebrities from the comfort of your own home (What?! Don’t pretend you don’t do it!), but it’s never been easier to shout loud and proud about the businesses you’ve started, gaining followers and attention that will most likely bring your company from the ground to the highest point you can possibly reach.

Before you write this blog off as just another boring “hooray-for-social-media” piece of writing, let me just stop you; because I’m about to delve into why social media can actually be working against you if you don’t use it correctly.

The idea of social media is a simple one: a platform for you to engage with like minded people, share what’s on your mind, memories and photographs and ideally keep up to date with events/celebrities/businesses that spark your interest. But over the last few years, more and more businesses have been turning to social media in an attempt to market their products to those with whom they may not engage with anywhere else. On Facebook, you can create an advert and for a minimal fee, Facebook will do the rest of the nitty, gritty stuff. It will ensure your advert will be put in front of thousands of people in your demographic. Seems foolproof really, doesn’t it? Facebook is literally doing what you’ve been hoping to do without you doing any of the work. But the problem with this is, there is no way to know who has actually seen your advert. Oh sure, it gives you the statistics of people who have viewed it for longer than X amount of time, but it doesn’t tell you who has paid any interest in it. How do you know someone didn’t accidently click on your advert and then get distracted doing something else? I’m not saying that Facebook ads are a bad thing (we use them quite frequently here at the Biz Expos), but you’d be wrong to think that once your advert is out, all you need to do is sit back and wait for the customers to come piling in. Unfortunately, you will never really know how successful your Facebook ad has been unless you receive customer feedback regarding it. You cannot rely on these ads to do your work for you. Pay for the ad space, but be prepared to go on and continue to market yourself elsewhere.

Twitter is probably my favourite social media platform. It’s far easier than Facebook to connect with people for either personal or business relationships. The more followers you have the more likely your content will be seen and shared with people you had no idea existed. In terms of business, I think it makes a lot of sense for businesses to have a Twitter account; to me, it makes a company seem far more legitimate, and a lot easier to trust them. Plus, it should also be noted that with the popularity of Twitter on the rise, you’re more likely to get to speak to someone if you have a query or a complaint. It’s a remarkable platform really, isn’t it? One of the biggest issues with Twitter is the 140 character limit to each tweet. I mean, if you do it properly, you won’t need more than this, but this is where arrogance of entrepreneurs can come into play. It is okay to be proud of your company; heck, if you’re not proud of it, what are you wasting your time for? Some people want to scream about every minute detail of their company, which again is completely fine, but you’re limited on Twitter in this aspect. Only choose the most important detail you need to share, or have an alluring line to engage with the public, otherwise you’ll miss the opportunity to network with potential clients. It should also be noted that many people nowadays take to Twitter to complain about every little thing (some of it can be hilarious, but most of the time it’s just draining). If you don’t take the time to respond promptly in a courteous manner, all it will take is 140 characters of an angry client to tarnish the reputation you’re trying to build. Never under estimate the power of an annoyed Tweeter.

LinkedIn is an interesting platform. It’s been dubbed as the Entrepreneur’s Facebook. Surprisingly, not a lot of people use LinkedIn, but most people will have an account. On LinkedIn, you can advertise jobs, recruit new employees and project your company’s earnings in forums full of people who are essentially there to do the same. You can do this on all platforms, of course, but LinkedIn is designed specifically for this. I guess it can be seen as a platform to really show off what your company is made of, knowing that the audience who will see it are exactly the people who you want to. That’s the biggest difference between advertising on LinkedIn as opposed to either Facebook or Twitter. Sounds like a dream for Entrepreneurs really, doesn’t it? The problem is if everyone is shouting about the same thing, who’s there to listen to you? What makes your voice standout? You can’t rely on your popularity on LinkedIn in order to sell your business. Just because you’re connected to over 500 people doesn’t really mean anything anymore. You need to be actively networking on LinkedIn to get yourself heard. It can be a really powerful tool if you use it correctly, but to be honest, most of you will compare it to finding a needle in a haystack. The problem is; if everyone feels this way, you shouldn’t be surprised if LinkedIn becomes the next MySpace.

Visual aids have always been popular. Who wants to read buckets of words when you can simply glance at a colourful, eye-catching image? Instagram has been dubbed as the Visual Twitter; update your followers with pictures instead of words. It’s quite clever, isn’t it? Statistics show that more people are likely to respond to visual aids rather than blocks of texts. You can also give your clients a little bit extra than you would if you were to just type it out. Want to see what happens behind the scenes? Want to see who you’re talking to online? Instagram eliminates all of the barriers that keep people from really investing in a company because it gives faces to the names on the business card. The best part of Instagram is you’re not just catering to your followers. If you use the correct hash tag (# followed by words connected to your image. E.g. #Selfie #Business etc.) people who aren’t even following you need only click the hash tag from a different image to have yours come up on their screens. Except, quite honestly, this is also where Instagram lets itself down. Of course, the more likes you receive for an image and the more followers you have, the more the perception of popularity becomes a reality, but you have no idea who likes these images. Most of the time, they are completely irrelevant to your company and quite frankly, they’re the wrong audience. Instagram might actually be one of the most infuriating yet ingenious platforms in this sense. Use it correctly and watch your company grow.

Of course, there are pros and cons to using all forms of social media. There is no one fool-proof platform that will determine your business’s success. Don’t assume that the attention you receive on social media can infiltrate how you sell your product. Be smart. Do your research and don’t forget to keep working long after you’ve sent an advert out. Only then will you receive the results you’re looking for.