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How to make social media work for your business

by Oonagh McCutcheon
23 Nov 2017
1 minutes to read

Almost 70% of Irish social media users follow brands and businesses, with most doing so through mobile devices. This ‘always-on’ connected community offers huge opportunities to engage with and learn about your audience.

People are using social media for entertainment, news, catching up with friends and family, researching places, products, services and ideas. For many, it’s the default medium, the place they go first thing in the morning to find out what’s happening in the world.

Let’s take a very quick look at the most popular channels in Ireland (all statistics are from the Ipsos Mori tracker):

Facebook

Facebook is still the number one channel in Ireland with 57% of us having an account. Despite frequent changes to the newsfeed, where it can be tricky for brands to secure organic reach, it is still favoured by the majority of businesses. Facebook has recently added live video and stories to their features, giving companies greater scope to share content in a visual way. Setting up a business page gives you access to rich analytics about your audience. This is very useful when tailoring the messaging and content on your page.

Twitter

26% of us in Ireland have a Twitter account. It’s a fast-moving medium and often the place where news breaks in relation to international matters, sports, politics, celebrity stories and national news items. It is also used as a customer service channel. For example, Irish Rail keeps passengers informed of delays and traffic information. This works both ways – customers often go to Twitter first to ask questions or make complaints.

LinkedIn

27% of people in Ireland have set up a LinkedIn profile. It’s a professional networking channel, especially popular as a recruitment tool for agencies and brands. It is ideal for business-to-business communications and is a place where professionals share business information and industry updates.

Instagram

Instagram is a very fast growing image-based social media channel and 26% of us have an account. 70% of all usage takes place on mobile devices, and it’s especially relevant when engaging with the younger market (18 -30). Hashtags are also used on this channel, with 7-8 being the optimum per post, allowing companies to align their content with popular categories for example #lovedublin #loveireland #beauty.

Pinterest

15% of Irish people use Pinterest, and 70% of these are women. It is largely used to collect and share images and photos, and is a place where people compile their ‘wish’ lists of products and experiences such as home décor, favourite holiday destinations, dream wardrobes, wedding ideas. In fact, 87% of Pinners have purchased a product on the platform. They spend more too, with Pinterest referral customers spending an average of $80 with each order, twice that of both Twitter and Facebook*. Pinterest has also recently launched their new ad platform, which could be a great opportunity for certain brands.

Snapchat

Snapchat is growing rapidly amongst 18-24 year olds. In Ireland, 26% of people have a Snapchat account, with 70% using it daily. The key draw for this channel is the fact that messages disappear after a pre-defined time. Brands and celebrities who are appealing to a younger audience with fast and spontaneous content do well on this channel.

Which channels work best for your business?

Go where your target audience is. Research your key demographics and the channels that they are using. Is it 18-22 year olds? Consider Snapchat. Perhaps it’s more 30-45 year old women? Try Pinterest. Are you appealing to 45 -55 year olds? Facebook might work best for you.

Quality is always better than quantity. If you are starting out in social media choose one or two channels and focus your efforts on creating and publishing quality content. It’s better to have full coverage, on a regular basis, on one or two channels rather than patchy posts across four or five channels. When you have established an audience, you can begin to cross-promote and encourage these people to join you on newer channels.

How frequently should you post?

This is always the 64 million dollar question! There really are no set rules as to when you should post on any of the social media channels. Commuter times can work well. Early morning and at the end of the typical working day tend to be high social media usage times. However, it is best to investigate when your audience is active. Drill the analytics on your social media channels and you will soon see a pattern emerging of when people are engaging most with your posts and tweets. For brands selling leisure activities, Friday afternoon might see more chatter and engagement whereas for companies offering healthy meal options, Monday morning will probably work well as people start new regimes. Each product will see different results.

Getting clever with social media

Social media is a fantastic tool when it comes to promoting your business, launching new products/services and reaching out to your customers. It used to be considered ‘free’ but there is work involved in terms of managing the channels. This includes keeping the audience engaged, answering customer queries, producing and publishing content and creating high quality images/videos to share.

Here are some quick tips to help you get the most from your social media marketing:

Customer interaction & feedback

Having an online presence places you at the heart of the conversation. You can chat to customers, get their feedback, ask for suggestions, understand how and when they are using your products, answer their questions, provide them with information and encourage them to tell others about your product or service. Your social media channels are a rich source of customer data. Nothing beats it for real-time, speedy interaction.

Crowd sourcing & real-time marketing

Crowd sourcing is an excellent way to harness brand advocates through social media. For example, you can ask the audience to choose from new packaging or product options that you are looking at. Or you could ask for ideas for an event you are organising. Appealing to those who are passionate about your product, and who use social media to share this passion, allows you to collaborate with your customers. They like to feel that they are ‘getting the inside track’ and you get to test and learn new product ideas. A win-win.

Social media advertising

Putting some money behind paid advertisements can help you to gain momentum on social media, especially when you are trying to go from >500 fans or followers to <2500. The budget required, and the frequency of paid ads will depend on the level of competition in your market. It will also depend on the level of awareness you are trying to create and the channels you want to increase your engagement on. It’s always worth doing a small campaign, spending say less than €100 to test the results for your brand before committing larger budgets to paid ads.

There are many useful tools when it comes to social media. Check out some of our other related blogs to successful social media management like How to build a content calendar for your business and The value of a user persona for your online business.

Sources: *Shopify 2015; Shane O’Leary Digital Report 2017