Welcome to the Tiernan Marketing blog and the first in the series of Tiernan’s Top Tips!

For small businesses, it’s no longer a case of whether you should be using social media. It’s about discovering which social media platforms are the most appropriate and where you should be investing your resources.

To kick off Top Tips, here are my top 9 for social media:

1. Have a proper strategy in place

You wouldn’t try and launch a product or service in a marketplace you hadn’t researched, so why should launching your product or service in the online marketplace be any different? Set some realistic goals for your social media activity and make sure you have a strategy in place that you can stick to.

2. You don’t need to be on EVERY social media platform

Do a bit of research and find out where your target audience are. If it’s not appropriate for you to be using Pinterest, don’t waste your resources on it.

It’s also worth taking a look at what your competitors are doing on social media…after all, your potential customers are their potential customers.

3. Get the tone right

Getting the tone right for your audience is essential. If you get it wrong, the results can be detrimental. We can learn so much from the recent mistakes of the European Commission, which took a battering on social media sites for getting the tone of their online ad wrong, and Femfresh, which ended up shutting down its Facebook page after a backlash from consumers.

4. Engage with your audience

There’s nothing more off-putting for your audience than an unused profile. The point of using social media is to engage with your customers or potential customers, so consider asking them what they think of your latest product or service offering, use images and respond to their comments where appropriate.

5. Customise your pages

Following on from point 4, a boring page is almost as bad as an inactive one. Make the most of the options to customise your page – they provide the perfect opportunity to help create brand consistency and promote your business.

6. Don’t forget your links

Social media can have a great impact on search engine optimisation, so ensure that you include links to your social media profiles on your website and in your emails but don’t forget that those links need to come back the other way too, so provide links to your website in your posts and any other online profiles such as Yell.com.

7. Have a plan for negative feedback

Social media provides a great platform for engaging with your audience but your profile won’t always attract positive comments. Make sure you have a plan for dealing with negative feedback, whether that’s providing a transparent response via your profile, or trying to take the negative conversation offline.

8. Don’t just rely on social media

Although social media is incredibly important for business in today’s society, it’s important to remember to incorporate your social media activity into your other online and offline marketing activities – think about including your social media contact information on your business cards, in your emails and on your leaflets.

9. And finally…

Don’t forget to measure and analyse your results from social media. According to the CIM’s Social Media Benchmark Survey, a whopping 49% of marketers surveyed didn’t collect data from social media, while 52% claimed they don’t have time to run analysis…and they’re missing out. Proper analysis of data can help inform strategy and increase the effectiveness of Customer Relationship Management (CRM).