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How to shine on social media

Sara Davies reveals how social media networks like Instagram and Twitter can help build customer loyalty

Social media has fast become one of most important promotional tools for any business, but the question is, what is the best way to use it? How can businesses build an online presence that will support their brand and that customers will value? With so many options at your fingertips it can be hard to know where to start. Whether you already have social media profiles that you wish to enhance, or you are a complete newbie, here are my top tips for getting the best out of your channels.

To get started, it is a good idea to take the time to get to know the functionality of each platform, so you can understand how it works. Simply play around with the settings, trial the different posting options and explore the capabilities of each network. In the end, you will not only learn how to use it but will also gain a valuable insight that will help you to optimise your presence.

Setting the tone

Once you feel comfortable using each platform, it is important that you establish a consistent brand presence. Set a tone of voice for your business and use the same logo or icon across the board. In doing this, you create a recognisable and professional brand, which will engage users and entice more followers.

Before you post, think about the message you're trying to communicate and make sure you say the same on each network. However, it is also worth tailoring your content to suit each particular platform. For example, chatty posts and polls work best on Facebook, while eye-catching photos and images are perfect for Instagram. By all means share this content between platforms, but be aware of how these will come across to followers of each particular social network.

To build up your profiles, follow fellow businesses, designers, publishers and manufacturers within the industry. Connect with them and comment on their posts so you start to become recognisable. As a result, many will start to follow or interact with you and you will be able to build industry connections and contacts.

Keep in touch

It is also essential to connect with your customers by actively engaging with them online. Answer their queries, reply to comments and ask questions to encourage their participation on your posts. Not only will this give you beneficial insight into the habits and preferences of your clients, it may also assist in gaining their feedback on the different products and tools that you stock - or even the events and workshops that you run.

Organising competitions and giveaways is another great way to engage. You could even offer customers exclusive content that is only available to social media followers - the more desirable you make it the better! This will not only make your customers feel valued but will also help raise engagement and therefore your profile. It's win-win.

Sara Davies MBE is a Durham-born entrepreneur and founder of Crafter's Companion. www.crafterscompaniontrade.co.uk

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