With the pandemic keeping face-to-face interactions to a minimum over the past 12 months, many of us have relied on social media to keep in touch with family and friends. 

But when it comes to using social media tools in a business context, it can seem like a bit of a minefield to navigate. 

Social media plays a very important roll in how we build relationships with customers these days and, when used in the right way, it can lead to sales without costing you a penny.  

To give you a head start on how to use social media for business we asked social media expert Samantha Kelly, CEO of the Women's Inspire Network, for her best social media tips for business.

1. Be present for your customers 

It’s more important now than ever before to have a social media presence. During the pandemic, everything is done online. Potential customers are searching and browsing social platforms because they have more time to spend on their phones and tablets. Make sure you are there, and present, so they can find you so you can begin building relationships with potential customers.  

2. Choose your social media platform wisely 

Who is your customer, who are your target audience? It’s really important you know who your customer is, so you know where they are hanging out. Research the social media’s demographics and see which platform is preferred by your customers. You can find some very useful statistics on this Hootsuite blog post here.  

Generally speaking, Facebook has the widest appeal across age groups while Instagram skews slightly younger (a third of users are aged 25-34) and more female. Twitter on the other hand skews older and has a more male profile. Newer social media platforms like TikTok and Snapchat attract even younger audiences. 

3. Tell your story 

Tell the story of your business, show behind the scenes, show the deliveries coming in, the staff who make up the company. People want to see experiences on social media, they don’t just want ads shoved in their faces. People buy from people. 

Tell your business story via your social media channels 

4. Get creative, use video 

Your phone is your best friend, you don’t have to invest in fancy equipment to make engaging videos. The more realistic and authentic the better. For your actual website you should invest in some professional footage but for small businesses, with little or no marketing budget, using your phone to capture video is perfect for social.

5. Don’t underestimate the power of posting a photo or video 

Lets face it, it’s been a tough slog of a year and while we are all getting sick of our own 5kms we are only delighted to see what the outside world looks like. Posting a video or photo of a lovely spring day, or newly bloomed flowers in the park can really lift the spirits of your customers and help you to build a trusting relationship with them. Use your platform for good, as well as promoting your business.  

6. Add value to your customer 

Did you read something or learn something you think your audience would benefit from? Share it. This works particularly well on LinkedIn and Twitter. It’s really important to engage your audience in things that they are interested in, start the conversation. Add knowledge to your posts if you are a service business so people automatically come to you as the 'expert’ in your area without you having to deliver a sales pitch.  

Own a florist? Why not share your best tips for keeping indoor plants alive or the best florals to plant for Spring? 

7. Give tips to other businesses 

We are all in this together and if the pandemic has taught us anything in business it is that we need to help each other out!  Why not tell your audience what you’ve learned in business with a few dos and don’ts to help your fellow entrepreneurs through the rough patch.  

Share your knowledge with other businesses  

8. Use your User Generated Content 

When one of your customers put up a picture of your product, or reviews your product, use those. Retweet on Twitter or share them in your Instagram stories to let customers know what other people think of your products and services. Encourage your customers to review your products and tag you in their social media posts. When you are re-sharing their content put up a link to where customers can buy your product or service.  

9. Don’t get involved in controversy on social media 

Keep it positive and on brand. If you really wan to comment on hot topic issues, use your personal account and keep your business accounts away from the drama. 

10. Don’t over sell on your platforms 

The sales will come when people know, like and trust you.  Work on building that relationship with customers through social media rather than using it to sell, sell, sell. Remember it is all about the stories and giving people the feels. The sales will follow once you have made a connection with people. 

Reliable connectivity is key in using social media platforms to connect with your customers no matter where you are. As Ireland's best mobile network and largest fibre footprint provider, Vodafone is 100% committed to keeping your business connected with your customers in these challenging times.

For all business mobile or broadband support queries, visit Vodafone Business.