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Michell Morgan is currently working as a Content and Digital Marketer at Lilo UK.

While we’ve seen numerous changes in the business world recently, perhaps none can compare to the size of social media right now.

With Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and various other sites leading the way, millions of people are looking for their news as well as their upcoming purchases which is why brands are paying billions of pounds just to get the whole process right.

According to a recent study, around nine in every ten businesses say social media will be crucial in the coming years and this perhaps shows the attention it has gained in a very short time.

As a result, you’ve probably set up your own profile but are you doing it right?

Are you utilizing your time efficiently or are you spending countless hours targeting the wrong features and therefore the wrong market?

With so much to do and so little time in which to do it, it can be confusing but we have compiled some fantastic tips for you to follow today. With these tips, you have advice from the experts and people who have already seen success in this competitive environment.

Jack of all Trades - Master of none. If you try to be active on several different profiles every single day, you’ll find it almost impossible to get any real work done so don’t spread yourself too thinly.

If you’re only a small business, you need to make sacrifices and this should come with social media. Instead, you need to do two things; choose a primary channel (more on this in a moment) and use social automation for the rest.

If you look on the app store, you’ll find Sprout Social, Buffer, and many other similar that allow you to queue future posts on social media. Ultimately, this means you can plan a week of posts on Twitter, set the queue, and then not have to worry about logging in and doing it all manually each day. Although you may have to pay a small fee, it saves you a significant amount of time and hassle.

Select a Primary Channel - With limited time available and other tasks to complete, you need to decide on a primary channel and this will become your sole focus moving forward. Depending on your industry, this might be Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, or maybe even something different.

Essentially, you need to choose the site that affords you the best opportunity to reach out to your target market. For example, the B2B market would probably choose Facebook since this is the most-used network in the industry.

For the more creative and niche B2C businesses, they’re finding great success on Instagram right now. For example, handmade jewellery is doing very well because pictures sell. While potential customers are scrolling through their feed, they see a vibrant picture of a new necklace and immediately start to consider how it would look on them before sharing it to friends. For businesses, there are two benefits to this because Instagram is quite easy to monetize compared to other sites while it also offers the largest average order value at around £50.

As mentioned previously, you need to ask yourself where your customers are and how you can access them effectively. If you can categorically pinpoint your customers, this is your answer right here. If you can’t, try posting a few testers to see what interaction you get; you can also visit ‘groups’ and reach out in different ways.

Be an Influencer - Nowadays, we see thousands of companies post advertising posts and that’s it. After about three posts, potential customers get bored, they unfollow, and they find someone else in your industry.

Instead, you need to be seen as the go-to expert in your field. By answering the questions of customers, you position yourself as the expert with all the knowledge.

As soon as you do this, you become a more attractive proposition and you instantly gain the trust of everyone looking in.

Although a significant amount of purchases is now made online, we are still wary of the whole process because one false move could see us be a victim of fraud. Therefore, credibility is essential and you can build this by producing solid content on your website and sharing it around social media, answering questions and comments, giving your opinions on your industry, release industry news, and just show your knowledge of the industry. If you’re operating a business, you must know the industry inside-out so show this. Not only does this spread your name around, it shows your commitment to the job.

Network, Network, Network - With social media, the opportunities to network are now limitless. Back in the day, the saying for all businesses was ‘always be prospecting’ and nothing has changed even today.

Sure, the parameters might have changed a little because the methods of networking have altered but the premise remains the same. Even after you start to see customers come in, you must never stop prospecting because this is the key to long-term success.

On Facebook, the various ‘groups’ around your industry should be goldmines. As long as you offer something to the community rather than just walking in and advertising straight away, you should see a good amount of people visit your site.

As before, you can become an authority figure in the group by answering questions of potential customers. Elsewhere, Twitter offers hashtags and these can be good for answering questions and giving people a little nudge in your direction. Even with LinkedIn, you can canvass your business on a more professional level.

Remember, networking isn't just about customers because you can also network with other businesses, CEOs, suppliers, and more. If successful, you could find yourself teaming up with a company who offer a complementary product to your own. As you can see, social media has multiple purposes and it’s time to put this to good use. Sure, posting every so often will induce once progress but the real results are seen when you really dig deep.

Build Social Proof - If you were sat around a table and suddenly everyone turned to look at the window, what would you do? Of course, you would do the same because this is behavioral as opposed to anything else. Online, the same affect occurs and this is something you should be utilizing this year.

Every day, we’re influenced by the actions of others and this goes right back to early man where we depended on others to survive from one day to the next. If thousands of people are sharing a post online, thousands of others will do the same because it’s popular and the numbers speak for themselves.

On the flip side, a post with one like and one share is less likely to grab the attention because sharing it would be more of a risk. As soon as a social media post starts to gather likes and comments, it continues to snowball and, if there is enough momentum, it will go viral and this is something we’ve seen time and time again in recent years.

How do you implement this on social media? Often, we turn to customer testimonials in this situation and this is a good starting point. However, there are various other sources that will work including email subscribers, expert reviews, celebrity users, friends’ likes, and certifications. With celebrities at the moment, this is a huge one because they are huge influencers. With just one post about your product, it could completely transform your company so this is well worth the research.

No Profile Left Behind - Next up, you should never abandon one profile in order to favor another. Although we said you should be prioritizing, you shouldn't leave your followers for months on end with nothing because this will have the opposite effect to the one you’re trying to create. Suddenly, they’ll think you don’t care about them, they lose trust, you lose credibility, and your social presence will rapidly decline.

By utilizing an app where you can queue future posts, you can ensure that one doesn’t get left behind. At first, you might need to play around with your scheduling and find one that works for you. Currently, there’s a misunderstanding that you need to post every single day on every single platform but this simply isn't the case. As long as you’re communicating and posting regularly, sometimes less can be more because your time and advice becomes more valuable.

Presentation - Sadly, we see too many one-person businesses these days not setting themselves up for success and presentation and imagery is one of the biggest mistakes. If you want the whole world to see you as a professional, you need to set up with this in mind including all images. Even if you use a simple head shot, this is far more effective than nothing at all. Once again, we return to the point about credibility and this is something that cannot be obtained with a blank profile. Instead, consumers need something to work with and it starts with a good picture.

Nowadays, we live in a society where selfies are common for social media but this has not (and will not) reach the business world. If people are looking for a friend and they see you with a beer in front of a barbecue, this is great. If they’re looking for a potential business partner or a company to buy products from, this is the last thing they want to see. Therefore, go for a logo, head shot, or something that adds credibility to your brand.

Use Your Customers - Finally, this last tip is going to help you to look good to your customers and save you money on market research. Why would you possibly pay for market research when social media offers you millions of people to target? Whether you have the followers or need to use a hashtag for people to find your post, you can ask what the customer wants to see. Immediately, you’ll get replies for color, product type, what they want from you, what they expect, what they need now, what they will need in the future, and so much more. Ultimately, business is about meeting the needs of the customer and social media allows you to find out exactly what these needs are.

Summary - With these eight tips for social media, there’s no reason why you can’t see success in 2017 and beyond. Sure, there might be more competitors in the market than ever before but not many are taking advantage of all these features and processes. If you position yourself as a market leader and show your knowledge, the rest will fall into place and you can enjoy success.

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