Thought you didn’t need social media? Think again
SOCIAL media has irrevocably altered the way regional businesses operate and it's both a burden and a boon, says Matt Grant, a public relations lecturer at University of Southern Queensland's Toowoomba campus.
"The rise of the social media influencer has altered how almost every business conducts itself, and I can't see this changing," he said.
"While brand ambassadors have been around forever, the difference is social media influencers have the ability to reach larger audiences to the benefit small businesses."
Mr Grant said the sharing nature of social media platforms such as Facebook had helped launched small-to-medium businesses into the spotlight both nationally and globally, and this was a burden as well as a benefit.
He said social media trends indicated a rise in the need for brands and their ambassadors to be more authentic, to share their ethical stance throughout their various platforms and for engagement to be more regular.
Associate Professor Sarah Jane Kelly, the Marketing Discipline Leader at the University of Queensland, said social media let businesses customise online connections and offered two-way, real-time feedback, especially through the use of influencers.
She said astute businesses used certain platforms for various ages, for example, if targeting millennials, they'll find an influencer on Snapchat, whereas older consumers usually use Twitter or Facebook.
"It's absolutely essential to be on social media, it doesn't matter what type of business you are," she said.
Global brand strategist Samuel Pavin said having no social presence looked suspicious. He added that a human presence needed to be felt behind social media and that disgruntled customers must be addressed immediately.
For those regional businesses just joining the social media scene, it's best to pick one or two platforms and do them really well, says Lismore local Katie O'Rourke, a digital co-ordinator at Southern Cross University.
"But first, find out where your audience or customers hang out, the good thing is many of the apps available have in-house data that is free and can help give you an overview of your key audience and how they are using the platform," she said.
"In 2019 audiences want to see more authenticity and realness, for example a behind-the-scenes post is a great way for businesses to personalise their brand.
"And rather than panicking every morning about what to post, setting aside time once a month to schedule a months' worth of content will take the pressure off.
"It doesn't mean you can't do extra things if something newsworthy or exciting pops up during that month, but it gives you a good foundation and ensures content is going out on a regular basis."
Consistently giving customers authentic content that solves their problems, adds value, entertains them and creates an honest connection is the key to using social media to a businesses' advantage, says business coach Alison Callan.
"Allow your audience to know that if they join your group, like your page or follow you that they will be rewarded with value and you will improve their lives in the way that only you can," she said.
Business Class is an 8-week series providing entrepreneurs with tools and information to take their business to the next level in 2019. Head here for more.