Social Media is a space that so many business owners are being told they “need” to use. Whether it’s because they should use it to find more customers or to build their reputation, they know they should be using it, but what does it actually do for the business?

I may be a tad biased here, as I think social media is an excellent space to get to connect with new people, as well as build relationships, so I am going to look at this in two different minds, starting with how I viewed it back when I first started – when I was 17 and started looking after my Father’s business.

We chose to get onto Twitter and start engaging with people who were in the nearby areas that we covered – this was Twickenham, Richmond, Middlesex, and so on – just engaging with them, starting conversations and generally getting to know people. This was my favourite part to Social Media, after all, it’s in the name! After realising how easy it was to connect with people on a personal level, I started to see how important this platform could also be for customer service. Saving people time and money, by being there to answer questions via Twitter, rather than having to pick up the phone. It also was beginning to be an incredibly popular place to post questions or ask for recommendations, so we could join conversations where we either knew someone in that field or knew the answer to a question. hands-typing-3

Now, social media isn’t any different. I recommend business owners start with a platform that their customers feel comfortable with. Perhaps asking current clients where they regularly go on social media, then joining those networks yourself and giving it a try. Use it as a form of networking, a space to share your expertise but to also build relationships and offer recommendations. Not a soap box to share your promotions with!

There are quite big differences between what is and isn’t appreciated across social networks. For example, Facebook is a very personal space, so take note of this when posting into a group or on your page – people are on Facebook on their down-time, rather than when they have their business head on, so use this platform as a space to build a community, offer answers to questions and to offer special offers to those who are fans of your page.

Twitter is quite a noisy space, so repetition is fine when it comes to posts. You will need to find out when your best times to tweet are depending on the people who follow you / the people you want to connect with. If they commute, for example, they will be on the train at an early time (between 6 and 7 am) so tweeting at these peak times, sharing blogs or helpful info, as well as chatty updates, is a great way to get into their mind.

LinkedIn on the other hand is very business-like, with updates about work anniversaries and recruiters using it as a tool to headhunt and find potential employees. Share your achievements, offer advice and share discussion pieces here, that are a little more beefy.

I am also using Pinterest for several clients who sell products, with link backs to their sites almost every day, helping people to see what they sell and how to use these pieces. Don’t forget to re-pin relevant images from other places too. For example, if you are a company that sells hair care products, sharing hair care infographics and tips, aswell as hair-style walk throughs can be an excellent way to get new followers.

So what does social media mean for your business?

It means you can engage with new and current customers and people you know easily and quickly, and when done well, it can help you to gain more brand awareness, build your reputation and create lasting relationships.

How are you using social media for your business?