How do I increase the visibility of my business on social media?

Marketing used to be an expensive business. The internet changed that and social media makes it easier than ever. Here are some tips to help you promote your company on social media.

1. Do your homework and plan your strategy
The potential to grow your business using Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Google+ and LinkedIn is enormous. However, you need a strategy, which sets out your objectives, decides what platforms best suit your requirements, and includes a content plan and editorial calendar. Remember, the quality of your content is critical to the success of your social media campaign.
The issue of content cannot be over emphasised when it comes to online engagement. If your content is not valuable to your audience, you are wasting your time,” says Yinka Olaito, social media expert and chief operating officer for Michael Sage Consulting in Lagos, Nigeria.

Not all social media platforms suit all businesses. Choose those that work for your ideal customer. Because my products are very visual, I use Instagram. However, while it is a great brand builder, Instagram has limited capacity for click-through. So I combine it with a website and Pinterest,” explains Heather Moore, owner of fabric design company, Skinny laMinx, based in Cape Town, South Africa.

2. Tailor your messages for each platform
Audiences have different expectations of different social media platforms. For example, Twitter and Facebook are where people go to share information, tell stories and add to conversations. If your posts contain too many advertising slogans and marketing language, you risk being blocked or unfollowed on these sites. Add value by providing interesting content and engaging with your followers.
People hate reading obvious marketing and sales messages on Twitter and Facebook. Instead, share useful information and add to conversations. People will be genuinely interested in what you say, and you’ll gain increased visibility as a result. After all, entrepreneurs have great stories to tell and useful expertise to share,” says Gus Silber, a Johannesburg-based writer and social media expert.
Always be in the know and add value by sharing news, ideas and opinions. Engage with your audience frequently and ensure you are in touch with current trends and topics relating to your brand. It’s essential to always be relevant on social media,” explains Vusani Badane, CEO of entrepreneurial consultancy, Vhonani Group in Johannesburg.

3. Be smart about competitions and giveaways
Social media sites are excellent places to present competitions and giveaways. With clever planning, you can use them to do more than achieve short-term spikes in business. Get participants to engage in the competition and support future marketing by inviting them to opt-in to receive marketing material, complete data capture forms, or submit photos and videos.

4. Build relationships by responding to comments and complaints
If a user comments or complains on any of your social media platforms and you do not respond, you will have missed a good opportunity to build relationships with your customers. Deliver thoughtful responses as quickly as possible. It’s not only an excellent way to personalise your brand and build your authority, it is also an opportunity to show respect to your current and potential customers.
With millions of Africans now online, businesses need to embrace a level of greater openness via social media. You can’t get away with offering terrible service and you need to be smart about how you deal with consumers and how you involve them in communication,” notes Mark Kaigwa, of Kenyan social media consultancy, Nendo Ventures.

5. Consider social media advertising
Advertising on social media – including promoted tweets, Facebook offers and boosted posts, and sponsored posts and display ads on LinkedIn ¬– can be a sound investment. It is, however, complex. If you are new to online advertising, get some expert advice on it. There are several online resources for this, including ebooks and online tutorials.