Afraid of social media? Don't fear the reaper of great rewards

Social media platforms are one of the most useful advertising mediums a business can utilise in the 21st Century, so learning to play the game is essential.

Many businesses now have a presence on one or more social media platforms, however, those that don't are missing out on the increased publicity it generates. Being in such a public place brings downsides though, as any bad online review will highlight. So, how do you take the positives of social media and leave the negatives on the proverbial cutting room floor?

Firstly, take stock of the social media platforms you have a profile on - LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc. Are the descriptions on your profiles accurate and the same as each other? Ensuring you have a consistent message is a mark of professionalism and will create a trust that leads to sales. Are you sharing any news you have across all platforms? If you tweet something, are you also posting it on Facebook? Remember that although Twitter is the new big thing, Facebook has 1.23 billion active users compared to Twitter's 232 million. If you only tweet, you are potentially ruling out 1 billion people!

Tweeting is fast becoming an art form, with do’s and don'ts that separate the best from the rest.

Even hardened non-tweeters will likely be aware of the 140 character limit, which poses some problems. Grammatical accuracy can fly out of the window on Twitter, but try to remain true to your education where possible. Remember that Twitter automatically shortens lengthy URLs so you can include a link within a tweet, meaning you can link to your website or related pages and stay within the 140 character limit.

When you send a tweet, use a hashtag of your company name to try and spark a bit of conversation about you. So, for example if we were going to send a tweet we could say 'Anybody want a £5,000 grant to cut their energy bills? #BucksBusinessFirst' and include a link to our funding pages. You can then monitor any other comments that include your hashtag.

Perhaps you want to give people an idea of what you make, sell or provide as a business. If it's relevant to your business, think about starting an Instagram account and posting pictures of your products in all their glory. This can drive traffic to your website where you should host even more pictures.

LinkedIn, the business-centric social media platform, is one of the best places to make connections that can lead to a sale. The good thing about LinkedIn, as opposed other social media sites, is that you know everybody is there for business and you may discover companies that you can do business with somewhere along your supply chain. One trick of LinkedIn is to create posts that subtly remind those who read them that they need what you are selling, while you can join others' conversations too to give your company name greater prominence.

Making the most of social media is a big part of making the most of being online in general. Now, you can ensure your business is reaching its potential online with the help of a £150 voucher from the Get Online, Trade Online (GO-TO) voucher scheme which helps SMEs get online, trade online or promote online.

You could get financial support for help with mastering social media, creating a website, taking payments online, online security, advertising, using CRM software, training staff or creating mobile websites and apps.

Find more information and a list of digital suppliers who can help you at

Read our handy guides and resources on topics like online finance, social media and cyber security.

You may also be interested in attending the Focus on Social Media afternoon event on Tuesday 24 February explaining the benefits of using LinkedIn.  To book, please visit here

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