5 Tips for Successfully Using Social Media in SMEs
Social media is part of a good communications mix and offers a lot of potential for SMEs.
1. Social Media Strategy
It’s no longer a question of whether SMEs should integrate social networks into their communications processes, but rather to what extent, which sites they should choose, and how they can best complement traditional communication measures. One thing is clear: Guiding social media engagement by gut feeling is a thing of the past. When used properly, social media can become a strategic success factor. For any SME, it is important to ask relevant questions such as: How do we want to position ourselves? What is our core message? What makes us unique? Based on those answers, they can develop a strategy that places long-term company goals at the forefront.
2. Choosing the Right Channels
Before launching a social media campaign, it’s important to precisely analyze who you are trying to reach and which channel the target group uses. After all, each social network has its own character and not every platform is suitable for every company and industry. For example, LinkedIn (two million users in Switzerland) is very business-oriented and suited primarily for B2B relationships, while Twitter is news-heavy and Instagram focuses on snapshots of real life. Facebook has 3.5 million users in Switzerland alone and is equally popular among millennials, Generation X and baby boomers. It also offers an acutely powerful algorithm and enables the most diverse range of interactions.
In an age of sensory overload, advertising messages that don’t stand out from the masses tend to fizzle out. Since people notice and enjoy good stories, a brand can use storytelling to distinguish itself from the competition. Entertaining stories of an editorial nature draw in the target group and engage their thoughts and emotions in order to create a personal connection to the brand and product. Every company, regardless of size and sector, has its own unique stories to tell. For example, the target group might be interested in how and why a product is produced and how it changes the lives of people who use it. Likewise, the company itself could offer plenty of material for exciting stories: How do ideas come about? What is the founders’ motivation? What does the SME advocate? Skillful storytelling personalizes a company and leads to a long-term customer relationship.
4. Customer Relationship
The name says it all: The “social” aspect of these networks should never be underestimated. Social media sites are certainly suitable as sales tools. But more than that, they offer a good, cost-effective opportunity to communicate personally with interested parties, develop a real relationship with the community and gain valuable insights. Companies can ask customers about their needs, for example, and strengthen their positive image with fast, effective customer service. It’s important to understand here that social media engagement provides two-way communication: In contrast to an advertisement, the company receives immediate feedback on its posts from users. Even though it’s not necessary to address every single comment, it’s crucial to manage the dialogue with the target group regularly and monitor it constantly. After all, a hotline cannot simply shut down during summer vacation.
5. Professional Social Media Management
What financial and personnel resources are available in-house? Is external support needed from online editors or graphic designers? Which content and stories can help the company best achieve its goals? Although professional social media management is inexpensive with regard to media performance, producing it can be much more costly. For that reason, it can certainly pay off for SMEs above a certain size to invest in an agency that specializes in content. These agencies support companies in every area – from content production through publishing, community management and monitoring to analysis and reporting – and ensure the long-term success of the social media strategy.