Your guide to a successful online business!


Social media is part of everyday life – Twitter hacks become major news stories, and video bloggers top the bestseller charts. Despite this, it is still often hard to know how social media can benefit your business. In this guide, we’ll take a look at all the major social networks and provide real examples of how businesses like yours are using them to boost their profile.

By the end of the article, you’ll know which social networks best match the needs of your business. You’ll also have an understanding of how you can use a network so it’s worthwhile for you.


Setting goals

The first thing you need to do before deciding which social media networks you’re going spend time and resources on is decide what you want to achieve with social media. These goals should be specific and tied to a business objective. You can get more information about developing specific goals in this webinar. In it, you also find more details on how to monitor your goals, allowing you to see whether you are succeeding in your aims. Once you’ve drawn up a list of goals read through the descriptions and examples below and see which network(s) align(s) with your requirements.


How is it used?

Something of an all-rounder in the social media world, Facebook offers you the chance to build a community around your business. You can use it for gathering feedback, passing on useful and interesting information and handling complaints. It has an ad platform as well, which you can use to promote your content, such as blog posts, and the products you want to sell. The biggest drawback of Facebook is its lack of organic reach. This means that even if you have built up a large following on the site, very few people will see your posts unless you pay to promote them. If you decide Facebook ads are something you want to try, this guide will get you started.

Show me an example

Business mentoring site The Girls Mean Business demonstrates how Facebook can be used to build a community around a company. The page features a mix of posts that are about the company itself and posts that are about things that aren’t to do with the business, but are of interest to the audience it’s trying to reach. There are also a few personal posts thrown as well – something that adds extra personality to the page.

What kind of business goals can Facebook help me to achieve?


  • Boosting sales – through advertising
  • Boosting brand awareness – through content promotion
  • Boosting customer service levels – by creating a community hub
  • Boosting customer retention – by offering support where your customers congregate online


How is it used?

Twitter allows users to send and receive 140-character messages on whatever they’re interested in. This brevity is both Twitter’s strength and weakness. It allows you to communicate quickly, but with so many messages flashing past your tweets can get lost in the noise.

It’s hard to push your company directly on Twitter and many companies opt to use it for branding purposes. Arena Flowers, for example, very rarely tweets about flowers. It’s also used as a complaints platform by many – although the length of the messages means that a complaint that starts on Twitter will often have to be resolved through another method of communication, such as email. The site also has an ad platform, which you can use to promote content or sell products. If you want to try Twitter ads, this guide will get you started.

Show me an example

The Bodega pub in Newcastle is an excellent example of how Twitter can be used to build the profile of a company. The account interacts with customers, retweets amusing things and also keeps its followers up to date with the beers that are on tap and the sport that’s on the telly. The success of this approach is reflected in its 2,000+ followers – many more people than can fit in the pub at any one time.


What kind of business goals can Twitter help me to achieve?


  • Boosting sales – through advertising
  • Boosting brand awareness – through content promotion
  • Boosting customer service levels – as a point of first contact
  • Boosting customer retention – by offering support where your customers congregate online


How is it used?

Pictures and short videos are the lifeblood of Instagram. If you haven’t got a physical product to sell, or don’t work in a visual medium you’re going to find it tough to make the most of the platform. There is some room for text, but don’t expect to be able to post long explanations of why you’re great and have people read them. Showing, not telling, is the key to Instagram. Use it to show off what you do best – whether that’s handcrafted furniture, or wedding photography let people see how good you are.

Show me an example

Joanna Nicole Photography makes great use of Instagram. Anyone considering using the business can quickly see the quality of work on offer. There’s no need to flip through a physical portfolio to decide whether you like the style, everything you require to make a decision is available at a click of a button. Make sure potential customers know where they need to go if they want to do business with you by including a link to your website in your Instagram bio, as is the case here.


What kind of business goals can Instagram help me to achieve?


  • Boosting brand awareness – By showcasing your work/products
  • Boosting product awareness – As an online portfolio
  • Boosting lead numbers – But be sure visitors know how to contact you


How is it used?

Like Instagram, Pinterest is a visually focused social network. This time, the focus is 100% on images. You can create themed boards and “pin” images to them. People can then interact with these images by “repinning” them or liking them. As with Instagram, Pinterest is great if you have a physical product to sell.

Show me an example

As you might expect, jewellery company Tatty Devine has a strong focus on accessories and fashion. It curates images from across a range of sites, but it also pins images from its own website. By doing so, it ensures that anyone who sees something the like can follow a link to a page where they can buy the product.


What kind of business goals can Pinterest help me to achieve?


  • Boosting brand awareness – As an online portfolio
  • Boosting product awareness – As an online portfolio
  • Boosting lead numbers – As an online portfolio
  • Boosting sales numbers – Through product promotion

Google+ for Business

How is it used?

Google+ isn’t the most vibrant of social networks, but it does have its uses. It’s particularly popular among online marketing professionals, so if you’re targeting that demographic, then you’ll find it’s a great place to share content and make connections.

It’s also a good place for businesses with a physical location. First, these companies have a chance of showing up in Google’s local search results. Secondly, it’s a good platform on which to gather reviews.

Show me an example

Gauthier Soho is a London-based restaurant. Its Google+ profile may not have many followers (largely a fault of the platform rather than the restaurant), but it’s got a number of good reviews. It’s excellent social proof. It also shows up in Google’s local search results for the query “Soho restaurants”


What kind of business goals can Google+ help me to achieve?


  • Boosting footfall – Through inclusion in Google’s local results
  • Boosting website traffic – Through inclusion in Google’s local results
  • Boosting conversion rates – Through reviews, which inspire confidence to buy
  • Boosting brand awareness – Particularly in the online marketing sector


How is it used?

For business networking. LinkedIn differs from the other platforms we’ve looked at because its focus is almost entirely on business to business, rather than business to consumer, relationships. Bigger firms looking to hire might find it useful to set up a page for the company. For sole traders such as consultants, the ability to build and maintain connections with past, current and future clients is the main benefit. A word of warning though – don’t abuse LinkedIn by adding anyone you think might be interest in your services. That’s spamming and you’ll do your reputation more harm than good. Add people you know or make use of the introduction feature. You can also reach a wider audience through Pulse, the site’s blogging platform.

Show me an example

This is the profile of Nick Leech, our group director of marketing. His profile gives you a good idea of how the platform can be used to build connection and showcase your skills and expertise.



What kind of business goals can LinkedIn help me achieve?


  • Boosting leads – Through introductions
  • Boosting client retention – By maintaining relationships
  • Boosting your personal profile – Through publishing on Pulse

Further reading

Get started with Facebook ads here.

Get started with Twitter ads here.

Get started with Google+ for business here.

Learn about goals, how to set them and how to monitor results with this webinar.

If you need to know anything else about getting started with social media, drop us a comment below.


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