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Can your business rely on social media?

Can your business rely upon social media?

In the rural economy word of mouth and local reputation can be key. But where is the first place you look for something? Often it is online.

But with social media changing, as we have recently seen with Twitter, can you afford to rely upon social media to promote your business, product or brand? The paradox is that you possibly cannot afford not to if you wish to maintain or grow the sale of your service or product.

At the Lincolnshire show ground a few years ago I spoke to one farmer, a breeder of rare breed cattle, about his Twitter account. He said, "If you do it right its worth your while and you pick up business from it." He then explained how he had sold cattle as a direct result of people following him on Twitter.

Other farmers I have seen successfully use Facebook and Instagram to promote their holiday lets and camp sites.

However, I have seen both a butcher and a farmer's holiday let business thrown into short term disarray by their Facebook accounts being closed down through no fault of their own. Similarly I have seen people have problems with their Twitter accounts being blocked.

So which is the best and most secure Social Media to use?

First of all, if you use Social media as a business tool you take the risk that entails. However, you can mitigate that risk by having your own website and using that as the primary tool to promote your business whilst at the same time sharing from your website onto social media.

As to which Social media you wish to use, that depends primarily upon two things: Your target audience; and how often you plan to post.

The use of Social Media for rural businesses varies by both type and region. For example, in Lincolnshire I see preferred use of Twitter by many rural businesses, whereas in Northumberland Facebook is dominant, in both regions Instagram is used heavily especially for food products and hospitality.

Social Media also has different target audiences in terms of age and type. Instagram is possibly the most Universal. Tik Tok is the most active of all the Social Media . Whatever social media you use you need to mix up the content varying it in form and content to keep it interesting. So with this in mind you possibly can only use two or three channels as you will need to use and monitor them daily or at least within a schedule of your own making.

This is where a posting schedule can be key. It may be as simple as a daily routine on Twitter of saying Good Morning and what you are going to do/or have done. Asking questions is always a good way to get responses. People like to know about your animals whether it be a poorly cow, a birds nest, or your pet cat. As a rough guide I suggest the minimum posting schedule for the following should be:

Two or three times a day - Tik Tok

Daily - Instagram, Twitter

Twice a week - Facebook

Once a week - your own website or blog. You Tube. LinkedIn

If you are using any social media you need to monitor it daily for comments so that you do not miss out on opportunities.

Some social media enables paid promotion, which you may consider as good value depending upon what you are doing. Of greater value are third party compliments so always thank people. In the event of criticism answer it calmly and fairly as people will judge your reaction.

Social media is like the wild west. It is unregulated and full of fools, idiots and cowboys. Having your own website is highly recommended to ensure people can find you outside of this environment. However, even that needs regular review to ensure the tags and metadata allow you to be found.

Finally, as part of your social media schedule Google yourself regularly, at least once a month, to check you can be found and what is there is accurate.

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