By Tara Turkington and Kerry Robertson
Johannesburg - Which social media platform do you use most in your business? Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram or TikTok?
The simple fact is this: your business (or your client’s business) needs a social media presence. Whether you run a small local business or a big international company, social media should be an essential part of your business marketing strategy.
Using social media for your business can create brand awareness, boost leads and sales, advertise services, products, or a good cause, promote credibility, engage your audience, and conduct market research.
How do you manage social media on a tight budget?
If you’re on a tight budget, consider Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram as starting points for your business’s online presence. These are the most popular social media platforms in South Africa. You don’t have to use them all at once – you can pick those that best align with your organisation’s needs.
When it comes to social media, quality is more important than quantity, so run the ones you have chosen well. If you can commit the resources, quality, and quantity, even better. Five good Facebook or Twitter posts a week are better than one.
You don’t need to be active on all the platforms. For example, safari lodges, hotels, and beauty spas fare well on visually rich Instagram because they can easily share photos of animal sightings, décor, or beauty products.
On the other hand, if you’re a non-profit organisation, Facebook might be a better choice because it allows you the opportunity to showcase work that isn’t necessarily visually appealing, to keep in contact with your supporters, beneficiaries, and others interested in your work, and to run crowdfunding campaigns.
Here are 10 tips to keep in mind when running social media on a tight budget:
1. Content is king
Organisations with quality content on their social media platforms succeed in building a strong online presence. At Flow, we help our clients focus on producing rich, high-quality content that speaks to the uniqueness of their brand. Your content should be distinctive and interesting.
Think about your “Why?” – why am I sharing this piece of content, and how does it add value to my audiences? Always write and post with your audience in mind.
2. Have a content plan
A content plan is a monthly or weekly calendar that outlines the various social media posts you plan to publish on your channels. Content plans work best using “content pillars” – themes that act as a guide for your subject matter.
For example, if you are sharing content about a farm, your content pillars might be freshness, authenticity, and value for money. Your posts would then reflect these – for example, showing beautiful pictures of fresh produce still growing (freshness), insights on how the crops are growing this season (authenticity), and an explanation of how harvesting is done (value for money). It’s always better to show rather than tell.
The best social media is about engaging with your audiences and having two-way conversations rather than you broadcasting a message. Respond quickly to questions, comments, and compliments. This will also help you in terms of the way that the platform’s algorithm filters and ranks your content.
Top tip: at Flow, when we encounter negative engagement on our clients’ social media channels, we try to move the conversation to direct messaging to keep the issue private and resolve it quickly.
Always be proactive and quick with your responses to diffuse any potential conflict and assist the person who is complaining as fast and efficiently as possible.
4. Use platform tools
Social media platforms come with easy-to-use built-in tools that are excellent for gauging the interests of your followers. With tools such as polls, surveys and calls for feedback, you can conduct your own market research and garner feedback on the things that pique your audiences’ interests.
5. Invite connections on LinkedIn
Fun fact about LinkedIn: when you use the platform as a business profile, you automatically qualify for at least 100 to 250 “credits” on your account. These credits are designed to help you invite connections to your page, and each time a person accepts an invite from you, the invite credit is returned to you.
If you’re a premium LinkedIn member, you can use the InMail tool to directly contact potential leads outside your network.
6. Teamwork makes the dream work
Social media works well when you also rope in your colleagues to use their personal accounts to like your social media pages, follow them and re-share the content that’s posted on them.
Staff can also submit photos of themselves at work events or outings, which, in turn, can be re-purposed and shared on your company’s social media pages. Doing regular staff shout-outs and featuring your team as part of your content strategy can work well.
If there’s more than one person contributing to your social media strategy, use tools such as Google Docs to consolidate the work and work from a single document, where everything is aligned, and there’s only one version of the truth.
7. Follow accounts on Twitter and Instagram
If you want to organically grow your following on social media, get into the habit of following people in order to be followed back, especially on Twitter and Instagram. If you’re using LinkedIn, choose to “connect” with other profiles rather than “following” them, as this makes your connections more direct.
Look for people who are active and talking about the things you’re interested in, and follow or connect with them. On Twitter, unverified accounts are able to follow up to 400 accounts a day, while verified Twitter accounts can follow up to 1 000 a day. After a week or so, go back and unfollow those who have not followed you back.
8. Quality over quantity
One good post on LinkedIn a week is better than three rushed ones – that’s why quality over quantity matters when it comes to the type of content you share on your platforms. And if you can afford it, appointing an agency to run your social media platforms is advised (and you will have peace of mind knowing you’ve enlisted the help of experts).
Always share blog posts and article links with photos – social media posts with photos perform far better than those with no images accompanying the shared content.
9. Be mindful in how you work with influencers
Influencers can be effective at spreading your message far and wide. The trick is to build strong relationships with influencers in your line of work and pay them if you can, or reward them well in other ways. Make sure you choose influencers who are aligned with your message. It’s no good to use a fashion influencer to talk about climate change or a food influencer to talk about education (unless there’s a clever and strong reason to link them together).
10. Consider small, targeted paid spend
A small budget for social media advertising can help grow your accounts far faster than loads of good organic content. Consider, for example, boosting an organic Facebook post that is performing well, which will show it to far more people than would otherwise have seen it.
Targeted Facebook ads and paid page promotions, as well as targeted LinkedIn ads and Google Ads, can also yield excellent results. But managing social advertising effectively requires strong skills – consider getting certified to do this (Google, for example, offers certification courses for free, and Facebook offers a paid certification).
* Tara Turkington is the CEO and Kerry Robertson is a social media strategist at Flow Communications (www.flowsa.com), one of South Africa’s leading independent agencies.