Social media is free to use and a great way to reach potential new clients. You can build awareness of who you are and what you do and get the word out about your business.
It’s also a useful source of information, whether it’s seeing what your competitors are up to, finding out what potential customers are talking about, or reading the latest industry updates from trusted sources.
Before you start, research the different social media platforms. Look at what other people in your industry are saying. Find out what your potential customers are interested in. Who are your audience following? Who are your competitors following?
People follow different topics using hashtags. If you wanted to join the debate about the night’s episode of EastEnders, for example, you’d search #EastEnders to see what everyone has to say. Try out different hashtags that are related to the industry in the search bar and see which ones are popular. Follow trusted news sources so you can join in the conversation on relevant issues. Start with a like, retweet, share, or comment.
What to share
Think about how people use social media. They scroll quickly and glance at each post. You need to capture their interest and draw their eye with useful and entertaining content.
The type of language you use is important. Social media posts should be brief, as you often have limited word count (like Twitter) but also so people can easily scan what you’re saying. Get to the point quickly.
Use confident language – ‘we can help you’ as opposed to ‘we may be able to help you’ for example. Let people know what your business can do for them.
Social media is conversational, so talk to the customer as though they’re in front of you. Put yourself in their shoes and work out what they’d like to know about you and your business.
Use social media to:
- Tell customers or potential customers what is different about your business
- Reveal how can you help or solve problems
- Build relationships
- Pique people’s interest
- Be helpful – no one is interested in reading the hard sell.
What are common problems your learners have? What do they particularly struggle with? These can be good starting points to think about a problem you can solve. You could film a short video using dashcam footage, or send them to a blog or article on your website using a link.
Due to the complicated (and often annoying) ways social media platforms display content, you’ll need to work a bit harder so that people see what you post.
Previously you were shown all posts in chronological order, but now it’s about the all-important engagement. The more engagement you have on a post, the more people will see it, and hopefully share it.
Engagement means people like your post, comment on it, watch your video or share. You need to encourage people to engage, by asking questions for instance.
However don’t be too blatant about it. Facebook, for example, frowns upon anything that explicitly tells users to like, share or follow. This will put you back at the bottom in the quest to be top of people’s newsfeeds.
If you’re sharing a picture of one of your pupils passing their test, find out if they use the social media platform as well and make sure you tag their name/Twitter or Instagram handle. This means they’ll see it, and can easily share it to their own followers. Ta-da! You’ve just reached a whole new audience of potential customers!
It’s always a great idea to take a picture of your pupils when they’ve passed their test to share on social media. Tag their name in it and ask them to share or retweet. That way their friends will see it too, and hopefully sign up for lessons due to their friend’s success!
Obviously you’ll need permission to share. Consent is essential. For the best protection, ask the person to sign a consent form and tag the person when you post the photo.
Your business social media account needs to be just that – business. Keep your work account separate from anything personal. Don’t use it to comment on non-business related activities, share photos of your personal life or post anything controversial. If you wish to do any of this, set up separate personal accounts.
You need to maintain a high professional standard. Anything you post on social media is public, whether it’s a ‘private’ group or public forum, your personal account or your business one. Comments and posts can be screenshotted and shared around, even if you’ve deleted them.
Always think before you type, if someone saw this what would they think? Could it be seen as defamatory, threatening, illegal or inappropriate? If so, don’t write it.
If you run a Facebook group, you are considered the publisher so could be liable for any content published. Make sure you keep an eye on what people are saying and delete anything inappropriate. Never threaten online, it’ll come back to bite you.
For Facebook, you do need a personal account to set up a business page, but you can do the bare minimum for this if you’re not interested in having a personal page. You just need to enter your name, email, date of birth and a password.
It’s a good idea to plan out your tweets for the week or month, as well as keeping an eye on your accounts so you can answer any questions or comment on any relevant news stories.
There are free publishing tools you can use, such as Buffer, which allow you to schedule posts for your different accounts. This doesn’t take too long, you could even just allocate half an hour at the beginning of the week to plan out and schedule a few posts.
It’s best to have tailor-made posts for each type of social media platform. If you share an Instagram post on Twitter, for example, it just shows as a link in the text and not as a picture, which isn’t visually interesting.
Do your research, have a look at the different platforms and see what people are chatting about and which hashtags are popular. Come up with a content plan. If you don’t want to post at the time, use the free sites that allow you to plan your tweets so you’ll still be tweeting if you’re out in the car all day! However it’s always good to check regularly as well, to answer any questions and see who’s engaging with your posts.
When thinking about planning out your posts, think about this list:
- What is different about your business?
- How can you help solve a problem?
- What area requires focus?
- Something you really want to shout about
To summarise, here are our final tips for successful social media engagement.
- Try and make your content visually interesting – remember people have short attention spans!
- Post regularly
- Be authentic and human
- Try different types of content, see what works
- Help, don’t sell
- Be social and interact with others
- Use social media to drive traffic to your website – add links where you can and always add your website to your social media bio
- Social media can be great for word of mouth recommendations – if someone praises you online, make sure you share what they say and thank them
- Let people get to know your business, people and values
- Find out what your customers are saying about you online and monitor your competitors
- Keep up with industry news and trends
- Engage with your customers
- Provide customer service – try and answer questions promptly
If you put in the effort, you can reach a new audience and hopefully that’ll lead to new customers. Make social media work for you.
Read our feature Role of social media