In this blog, I will talk about some key differences between social media use for business, professional and casual user. Having had some experience in all three, I hope I can offer a little bit of advice.
Firstly, just to get it out of the way – whichever social media platform you’re using for personal reasons, it’s always good to have a grasp of your privacy settings. Twitter and Instagram don’t quite allow you to edit the privacy settings on every single post, but Facebook does. I’ve previously used it to hide a selection of posts from co-workers and managers on my friends list (hi, ex-colleague if you’re reading this!). While most of my status updates are only seen by friends, I will make certain posts public, for example, if I’ve posted a new track on Soundcloud or YouTube and I want it to be heard by as many people as possible. However, the main difference I find between casual and professional use is that you probably won’t have specific milestones to accomplish and you’re likely to be using it for leisure and socialising purposes…or maybe I’m wrong?
But let’s say, you’ve decided to set up a social media page for your business and/or self-promotion – where do you start? While I do believe there are some distinctions between using social media as a self-employed professional and maintaining online presence for a business, here are some key tips to consider…
- Make a social media marketing plan
Just like any other goal your business is trying to achieve you need to make your social media presence just as important. Don’t leave it off the agenda just because of its more relaxed approach – this will result in being inconsistent with your content, which in turn will make you miss out on benefits of social media marketing. Don’t focus solely on likes and retweets. Pay attention to leads generated, increased website traffic, conversion rate and more. There’s an excellent guide on Hootsuite to help you get started. Click here. (https://blog.hootsuite.com/how-to-create-a-social-media-marketing-plan/)
- Understand the differences between each social media platform
Don’t instantly set up an account on every single platform ever if you’re not going to be able to manage them all. Find out which social media platforms you could use most effectively, and focus on them. It’s also a good idea to tailor your activity to each platform – for example, if you’ve posted a video on YouTube, don’t just share it on your Facebook page – upload the video directly to Facebook, as that way it’s likely to get seen and clicked on by more people. While it’s useful to schedule your social media posts to make sure you stay on top of it, I’ve personally found that it’s a good idea to keep an eye on Twitter in particular and try to jump on some trending topics as well, providing they’re appropriate for your business. You could also do the same on Facebook and other platforms to make sure your posts are relevant. Attempt to differentiate your content slightly across different platforms and try different types of posts to see how your audience responds to them.
- Show your personality…but not too much of it
By which I mean – express your views, but keep in mind that you’re a business and your demographic might consist of people that disagree with you. This is where the difference between a professional and business is probably the biggest – from personal experience, I think you can afford to be a little more controversial or outspoken as a sole professional, whereas when you’re posting on behalf of a business, you may want to remain impartial a little more. I will sometimes get involved in conversations on Twitter, for example, and I might debate on certain topics, however, I’ll make sure to do it as respectfully as possible and you wouldn’t see me post anything along the lines of ‘mean tweets’:
Although I share a lot of my personality on social media, I’d still like to be seen as a professional when people come across my social media accounts.
- Use hashtags effectively
Don’t jump on every single trending topic – it’s going to make you look tacky at best or attract some backlash at worst. Another good suggestion is to make sure your brand hashtags are appropriate for your business and audience. Check out these 10 social media fails on what not to do. (http://keyhole.co/blog/10-trend-campaign-hashtag-fails-by-big-brands-lessons/) It’s also a good idea to come up with relevant, unbranded hashtags for your business and to cater hashtags appropriately to the social media platform. For example, Instagram hashtags often describe the post, whereas Twitter hashtags are more often relevant to the topic of the conversation. Additionally, don’t go overboard by hashtagging every word or making your hashtags too long. Keep it relevant and on topic.
- Observe your demographic via social media
Most social media platforms are designed to pretty much tell you how to use them – so there are no excuses for not having an online presence. Even if you’re completely new to social media marketing, there are tools within your social accounts to help you make the most out of it. Facebook, for example, has awesome, detailed stats that help you get to know your audience, so you can tailor posts to your existing followers or attract more diversity. They also tell you when most of your audience is online to assist with scheduling posts and give you an overview on the type of content that performs best. If you’re interested in website conversions, set up an analytics account to help you run promotions on your products and attract more traffic to your website. But you don’t even need that straightaway to start growing your online following – simply listen to your audience, be engaging and use the features in each social media platform to help you improve your online presence.
- Be copyright infringement proof
One of the worst things that can happen to you as you’re just starting out is being slapped with a copyright lawsuit. It happens to YouTubers all the time, even if their video would qualify as ‘fair use’ and the sad reality is that it can be critical for creatives with smaller following and limited resources. If you’re looking for copyright-free music, check out No Copyright Sounds (http://nocopyrightsounds.co.uk/info/). All you need to do is credit the artist and provide a link to their work in your video description, which is a nice way for creative people to help each other. Image-wise, Adobe Stock is great for stock-free images and vectors as well as videos, but if you don’t have the funds to pay for their membership, there are plenty other free sites to use. Check them out in this article: (https://blog.hootsuite.com/20-free-stock-photo-sites-social-media-images/). If you’re unsure of anything else, make sure to research it just to cover yourself.
The final takeaway is to think of your social media marketing as any other business strategy – it’s an important asset for you to attract a bigger audience, increase sales, generate new leads and more! Therefore, always keep in mind that your online presence is a reflection of yourself or your business and make sure to use all the tools at your disposal to up your social media game. Today, we’re lucky to have access to so many resources, and there is no excuse not to promote yourself online. Whatever you think you don’t know, you can learn by research and trial and error!