Way back in May this year we were set the task of creating an online course in social media skills by the government-backed Digital Business Academy. Like the Academy, we recognise that there’s a digital skills gap for small businesses and start ups in the UK, and that the lack of solid social media skills is a missed opportunity for many.
So over the past few months we’ve set about creating a video-based online training course, free to all, to inspire small business owners to get their online social media presence right.
Now we’ve talked about social media a lot on this blog. Platforms like Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram have undoubtedly helped us build this business and we encourage clients to use them too. We’ve written about social media in our books – looking at it through the content frame, but we’ve never shone a light on it with this much focus.
To create the new course we have worked with three fantastic west-based businesses who are getting social media right and watched what it is that they do so well. These case studies of social media success have been really enlightening.
Developing this training course has reinforced many of the things we thought we knew but also given us a fair few light bulb moments. So going by the old adage ‘you don’t really know a subject until you try to teach it to someone else‘, here are just a few of the many things we’ve learned about using social media for business. We hope you find them useful too.
10 things to do if you want to get the best out of social media for business
- Be clear WHY you’re doing it. What do you want social media to do for you? Social media can help you in many areas of your business – from research and development through brand awareness to sales and customer service but the underlying purpose is always relationship building.
- The real goal is not followers, it’s to develop a community of loyal advocates. It’s about building relationships that take people from being simply followers to becoming customers and advocates who help grow your business. That’s the joy of social media.
- Don’t start with platforms – start with working out what you want to say. How do you find this? By uncovering your content sweet spot.
- Create content that puts your customers’ needs first. Answer their questions, respond to their challenges and aspirations. Be helpful, entertaining and inspiring and you’ll build people’s trust.
- It’s not just what you say it’s HOW you say it – behaviour matters on social media, so it works to play nice!
- Pick a mix of platforms that’s right for you, right for your customers. It goes without saying that it’s good to pick the platforms where your customers are, but the people who get the most from social media pick the platforms they enjoy using the most too.
- Do it intentionally to make the most of your time. Time is precious for any business, now more than ever, and you can waste a LOT of time on social media. Putting time into planning your social media activity– for content creation, sharing content and having conversations on social media platforms – will pay dividends.
- Get the right people on the job. Your most enthusiastic social media types will do it best. This is relationship building, and genuine interest and enthusiasm shine through on social media platforms, just as they do in ‘real life’. Likewise outsource your social media with care.
- Measure what matters. You could analyse your social media statistics forever and a day, but it’s only worth measuring the things that show how you are progressing towards your goal.
- Be brave. During the making of the course we were surprised how many people told us they were intimidated by social media. They feared putting themselves out there – and were scared not only of getting it wrong, but of being ignored. On social media you really do reap what you sow – so approach it with the aim of helping your customers, and you’ll find people respond with generosity and warmth.
Master social media for your business
These are just some of the things that we’ve learned and we’d love to pass them on to you through the new training course. As our three fabulous case studies prove, social media really can make a huge difference to your business, any business, if you get it right.
Now we have to get the word out there. Please help us spread the word so everyone in the UK gets to learn how to master social media for their businesses. Completely for Free!!
It’s all online so you can do it in your own time. And do tell us what you think. We so hope it’s valuable.
Here’s the press release on course launch too, if you’re interested, or know anyone who might be!
Big thanks to all the team
Developing this training course has been an incredible team effort. We would like to thank the following people who have helped us on the journey and made it such a fascinating and rewarding process too.
- Rebecca Wallace, the true architect behind this course from a learning perspective and the hardest working member of our team. We have learned so much about learning, about teaching from you Rebecca and we absolutely couldn’t have done this without you.
- Our three fabulous case studies – Matt from BeerBods, Dan from Wriggle, and Paul from Clutton Cox Solicitors. We’ve learned so much from all of you, and really appreciate the time you’ve taken helping us with this course.
- Tom Bowden-Green from Bristol Business School, University of the West of England for providing some excellent background reading for the course for students who want to continue their studies in this fascinating subject. We love UWE’s desire to connect with the business world, and it’s been a pleasure working with you on this.
- The fabulous Toby Duckett, for calm, unswerving technical support, and getting stuck into the Moodle learning platform for us.
- Jade, Ed and the team at Doubleshot TV for producing first class video and for helping us get over our front-of-camera nerves.
- Richard Dennys, Head of the Digital Business Academy for giving us the chance to produce this course, to Amita Parikh for being a great project manager, and Javiera Atenas from UCL for your advice and support.
- Devin and Rob at Founder Centric, the DBA’s more experienced course providers, for answering our newbie questions along the way.
- Designer Lizzie Everard for her illustrations. She helped us bring the learning alive.
- Sarah Rice for ace PR and getting the news out in the media.
- Chris Thurling for the encouragement that teaching what we know is the right next step for Valuable Content.
- The Lion Pub, Cliftonwood our much loved local, for letting us film Wriggle’s case study on your premises.
- Our email and social media communities, on Twitter and Facebook, for answering our questions and helping to develop this course.
That’s some list. It’s been a mammoth undertaking and we’re so grateful to you all. Now, on to developing Valuable Content’s courses – online and off. Watch this space.