Social Media Checklist: Seven Rules For SMEs


From Twitter to Facebook, LinkedIn to Instagram and beyond, social media platforms offer smaller businesses an excellent opportunity to reach out and engage with new and existing customers. The best way to use these – and which platforms to choose – can vary depending on the nature of your company, but there are certain rules that will help you get the most out of your social media efforts. We ask the experts for their best advice. Here's our social media checklist: seven rules for SMEs:

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How can SMEs get the most out of their social media presence? With the help of some social media experts, we outline seven steps to success.

Rule one: choose the right platform

You don’t need to be on every social media platform. Social media manager and trainer Samantha Kelly, otherwise known as the Tweeting Goddess, recommends starting with a profile of your ideal customer then looking at where you can find them.

“The demographic on Twitter would be aged 35 to 55 and professional and urban. Twitter is a great B2B platform – a bit like LinkedIn but more casual and ‘human’. If your target audience is younger, then there’s Instagram and Snapchat or if you are targeting teens, check out the new video-centric service TikTok,” she says.

Stuart Anderson, managing director of data protection services and training provider XpertDPO, chose to focus on LinkedIn. “We decided to primarily use LinkedIn to drive traffic towards our website,” he says. “It gave us much more success at reaching people and engaging with them on a meaningful level.”

Recommended reading: Do's and Don'ts of Social Media Engagement

Rule two: set clear objectives

Planning your social media activity can give you a clear advantage. Start by asking yourself a few questions: “Why are you on social media? Is it for brand awareness, to engage with customers? I once spoke to an airline that told me they are only on Twitter for complaints. This is a huge missed opportunity,” says Kelly. “Next, make a plan for the months ahead. Get a calendar ready that plots key dates and events.”

Include global dates such as Valentine’s Day and Easter, as well as business milestones and, depending on your business, possibly current topics such as weather updates or Brexit. You can then compose relevant, topical articles and posts that chime with broader social activity.

SEO, web development and social media marketing expert Robert Ryan says that having clear objectives is vital for measuring the success of your social media efforts.

“You can't manage what you can’t measure,” he says. “Without clear objectives, your social media campaign could be rudderless. As for what goals are most important, it depends on campaign objectives, but the key metrics I’d look at are traffic to site, engagement/interaction rate, cost per click (if running ads) and monthly page growth rate.”

“Social listening goes further than monitoring and engaging with clients. It is tracking conversations, keywords, phrases, brands or sectors and using your insights to create content for your audiences” 

Jacinta Dempsey,

Rule three: get your basic information right

When creating your profile, remember to add basic information and contact details for yourself or your company. “Filling in every available gap to the best of your ability builds transparency,” says Melanie Boylan, who runs STOMP Social Media Training. “Allowing people to find your business online but then not making it easy for them to call you or email you is a big no-no but still, a lot of businesses do it.”

Rule four: use social listening

“People can get social listening confused with social media monitoring,” says Jacinta Dempsey, who runs The Social Network platform, which provides social media management services for SMEs.

“Social listening goes further than monitoring and engaging with clients. It is tracking conversations, keywords, phrases, brands or sectors and using your insights to create content for your audiences. We also use it to trace consumer sentiment/opinion for our clients – our favourite tool for this is Brand24. Once we have this information, we use Feedalpha (a content search and scheduling tool) to help us find relevant content that matches the audience’s interests.”

Dr Annmarie Ryan, a lecturer in marketing at the Kemmy Business School at the University of Limerick, adds that social listening is vital for understanding how your customers are responding to a campaign or a crisis, helping you to respond accordingly.

“You can gather reactions and get feedback on your strategy in real time,” she says. And social listening can also help you build relationships with your customers: “Take a relational approach to social media. Focus on building a community, not just broadcasting to a number of individuals. Hashtags are interesting because they can connect you to a broader conversation.”

Recommended reading: 7 Simple But Effective Social Media Starter Tips

Rule five: keep your voice consistent

If you have more than one person managing your social media accounts, it is important to ensure they communicate in a similar voice.

“If you don't maintain consistency it can be off-putting to the audience that you’re trying a to build a relationship with,” says Boylan.

Greg Canty, managing partner at Fuzion Communications, a full-service communications agency based in Dublin, says the best approach is to allow for a bit of personality while still ensuring your tone fits with your organisation’s brand. “You need to give clear guidelines about the types of photographs to use too,” he adds.

Dempsey agrees that the consistency of tone needs to extend to images. “Having a consistent brand voice will build trust and brand loyalty,” she says. “People will start to associate your brand with a few words or feelings.”

Maryrose Lyons, who runs digital marketing agency Brightspark Consulting, says the use of video is essential in today’s market. “These days you should be adding video wherever you possibly can – you can put it in your LinkedIn profile, for instance, and on your Facebook page your cover picture can be a video. It’s not enough just to have the best profile page; make a short video of you talking about what you do and put it into your summary.”

Rule six: balance your social media efforts with your other marketing objectives

“Social media should be a main part of your marketing strategy, not an add-on,” says Kelly. “Create campaigns around your brand that will encourage engagement.”

Canty agrees that your communications strategy should be all-encompassing. “If you have an ad campaign, people are going to believe in your ads more if you are getting good PR – if they are seeing your social activity and like your personality on social media,” he says.

For Anderson and XpertDPO, the key has been a combination of marketing methods. “We have used social media, traditional mailshots, email mailshots and having a presence at networking events,” he says. A good spread of marketing activity can be integral in helping you to reach a wider demographic.

Rule seven: post wisely

“You cannot sell, sell, sell online. No one wants to be bombarded with information and rubbish content constantly,” warns Susan Bourke, who created to deliver content for solicitors’ websites and social media platforms. “You need to engage and ‘talk’ with your audience in a meaningful way and you can achieve this over time by delivering relevant and valuable content.”

It’s important to post regularly. Canty points out that these days, without an advertising spend, a Facebook post will only reach a small portion of your followers, so even if you post three times a day, you are unlikely to irritate followers by turning up in their feeds too often. “I do three posts a day for a high-activity client, to have a better chance of some of the messages landing – and you should vary the timing of your posts,” he says. “The statistics on Facebook in particular will tell you the times your followers are live on the platform.”

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