What is social media?


Social media is online communication that allows you to interact with your customers and share information in real time. This can help you to reach your customers better, create online networks and sell and promote your products and services. It can be easy to get carried away when using social media for your business. It's wise to tread carefully and be aware of both the pros and cons before you start.

Benefits of social media for business


Social media can help you engage with your customers and find out what people are saying about your business. You can also use social media for advertising, promotional giveaways and mobile applications.

Social media can help your business to:

  • attract customers, get customer feedback and build customer loyalty
  • increase your market reach, including international markets
  • do market research and reduce marketing costs
  • increase revenue by building customer networks and advertising
  • develop your brand
  • exchange ideas to improve the way you do business
  • recruit skilled staff for example through job networking sites like LinkedIn
  • increase traffic to your website and improve its search engine ranking
  • keep an eye on your competitors.

Disadvantages of social media


Social media may not be suited to every business. If you are unprepared and launch your social media presence without planning, you could waste valuable time and money.

You should be aware that:

  • if you don’t have a clear marketing or social media strategy, the benefits may be reduced
  • you may need additional resources to manage your online presence
  • social media is immediate and needs daily monitoring
  • if you don't actively manage your social media presence, you may not see any real benefits
  • you may get unwanted or inappropriate behaviour on your site, including bullying and harassment
  • online exposure could attract risks such as negative feedback, information leaks or hacking
  • false or misleading claims made on your social media (by your business or a customer) can be subject to consumer law. You could be fined if a customer fan posts misleading or deceptive information, particularly about competitor products or services.

Whatever the risks, having a social media strategy and preparing your policy and procedures carefully beforehand can help you manage them.

Learn more about social media and consumer law.

Find out more about online security.

Social media tools for business


Not all social media platforms will be right for your business. Consider saving save time and effort by using social media tools that your customers use. Below is a brief guide to help you understand some of the options available.

Create your social media strategy


Doing the ground work before you start is critical to a successful social media presence. By developing your social media strategy you're able to:

  • create compelling content
  • engage with your customers at the right time
  • generate sales.

A social media strategy describes how your business will use social media to achieve its communications aims. It also outlines the social platforms and tools you’ll use to achieve this.

Follow your strategy and don't overwhelm your customers with unnecessary posts. Remain focused on reaching your specific goals and tailor your messages around these.

Home Harmony - Digital case study

 

Home Harmony provides interior decorating and design services for domestic, commercial and retirement sectors. Government assistance helped Home Harmony improve their confidence and digital capabilities. Home Harmony developed a social media strategy and identified which digital platforms and tools would be best for their business. After implementing the suggested changes, they saw a 15-20% increase in business, gaining a new perspective about digital.

Read next

Find out how to buy and sell online.

Learn more about websites.

Watch our case studies to find out how small businesses adopted digital technologies and strategies into their business.

Find the right tools to streamline your online marketing.