Social media: 5 tips to get you started

26 November 2019

By Michael Niles, Michael Niles Training and Media

Let’s face it, start-up and small business rock! The passion, innovation and pure energy they provide is utterly contagious and has been a large part of what’s inspired me over the last 10 years.

However, starting a business can be a stressful and lonely experience (I’ve been self-employed for 11 months now myself. The right training can help alleviate the stress and also help with the loneliness.

I am a digital skills and digital marketing trainer specialising in start-up and SME. I am lucky to train for some high-profile clients including Google Digital Garage, Lloyds Bank Academy, BT Work Ready Programme and Group 1 Automotive.

So why do I volunteer to train for SEMLEP?

The answer is simple, after 9 years working with SMEs through a non-profit enterprise agency and then becoming a sole trader myself on 1st January 2019, I know how important quality training is to start-up and small businesses. Particularly around digital marketing which seems a huge mountain to climb for some.

Without the kind of support organisations like SEMLEP offer businesses can struggle to be effective in their digital marketing. So if I can put a morning aside to facilitate a session I will absolutely do it.

Small businesses have so many irons in the fire that digital marketing and marketing in general is put on the back burner, “I’ll do it tomorrow” (I won’t quote the song from Annie here).

The fact of the matter is that marketing is a skill set that most people already have, those skills just need pointing in a different direction.

The biggest hurdle to get over is the word digital, it immediately makes it feel like you need some form of technical background to succeed. This is simply not the case. Platforms like Facebook and Twitter are specifically designed to be user friendly, if you can send an email you can post on Facebook.

The trick isn’t the technology it is the content, people don’t interact with Facebook they interact with what people have put on Facebook. Your job is to provide your customers with interesting, engaging content.

Think of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and the like as empty shelves. On its own an empty shelf is just that, not interesting, not engaging, not worth anybody’s attention. So, don’t worry about the shelf, worry about putting engaging and valuable things on the shelf, that’s what makes it interesting – all you have to do is say something interesting.

If you spend more time on technology than on content, you are doing it wrong. It is better to put one meaningful and valuable post out there a week, than 5 pointless ones a day. Social media and search engines (Google, Bing etc) are more interested in quality, relevant content. You do want to be posting regularly, but quality over quantity is what it is all about.

Here are 5 tips to get you started.

  1. Content starts with them and ends with you. Focus of the value to the customer, they care far more about what they are getting from the product than what you think about it.
  2. Get to the point, stick to the point and wrap it up. To be search friendly you need to be specific and relevant. Stick to one subject, tell people what you are going to talk about, talk about it and then give them somewhere to go or something to do. Don’t waffle.
  3. Never sacrifice clarity for cleverness. Internet content is very disposable, it is better to use simple, effective language that clients can engage with and understand quickly, rather than clever complex language that will slow down understanding and lead to disengagement.
  4. Keep an eye of trends in your business sector and prepare content for trending topics. Search engines and social media networks like trending topics and will show them to more people.
  5. Use tools like Hootsuite, Feedly, Canva and Google Alerts to manage and find content. It saves time and takes some of the pain away.

Marketing is an essential part of your business activity, whether digital or traditional. It doesn’t matter how good your product or service is if no one knows it exists. Know your customer, know the value your product delivers and tie them together in content that shows you at your very best.

Here are some excellent resources to help you get started. And keep attending SEMLEP’s Growth Hub courses, they are well worth your time.

Google Digital Garage:

Hubspot Blog:

Hootsuite Acaedmy:

YouTube Creators Academy: