More than 68% of online Australians now use some form of social media according to this year’s Sensis Social Media Report.

Social media platforms are now a powerhouse for small businesses and they should feature strongly in any digital marketing strategy.

More than 68% of online Australians now use some form of social media according to last year’s Sensis Social Media Report.

Although, only 33% of small businesses have a social media presence meaning a huge opportunity is lost for many small businesses.

For the uninitiated, social media refers to networking websites like Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

They are generally free and can be a direct line to the customers you want to reach if you choose the platform carefully. The key is knowing which platform your customers and potential customers “hang out” on.

So, how do you make sure you use it to full advantage?

1. Know who you are and what you want to say

Identify what your brand would like to represent and the image you want to project. Your Facebook and Twitter pages will be the first port of call for many of your potential customers so make sure it makes the right impact.

2. Check out the competition

It’s not always easy to come up with ideas but having a look at what others in the same industry are doing can help steer you in the right direction. And if you have time, plan your posts. It'll ensure you maintain a steady presence even when you're frantic.

3. Be consistent

If you’re going to start using a social media platform, you need to keep posting content because none of the channels are a silver bullet. Coming up with ideas is hard, but one good way is to sit down with a calendar and identify industry news, festivals, or other events that align with your brand's interests.

For example, if you are a small start-up involved in film production be even more active with your online activity around the big festivals. 

4. Be shareable

The golden chalice of social media is sharing, so you need to create posts that your audience will want to share across their own social media networks and communities. One approach is to be topical. For example, if you make babywear, you could have posted when the royal baby arrived. That could have been a question people would want to venture an opinion on. Another approach is to give educational ‘how to’ information, or to be just plain funny.

5. Hand over the responsibility

Social media campaigns are easy to start but hard to maintain. If you can, make sure you have a person designated specifically for your social media activities. Put a plan in place that is realistic. Don’t try to post five times a day with uninteresting content when once a week with something really shareable is more engaging.

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