Facebook social media on a mobile phone next to a laptop

Social Media to engage customers

by Angus Jones

Most people are on social media. Indeed for many Australians, it has become an obsession to the point that downtime should almost be renamed social media time. For this reason, social is a big opportunity for small businesses, and this guide will look at it objectively and advise you on how to make the most of it.

Social media refers to websites and applications that allow people to share content quickly, efficiently, and in real-time. Many people define social media as apps on their smartphones. The most common sites today in Australia include Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, LinkedIn and Snapchat.

When the likes of Facebook started their business, they allowed posting with few restrictions and allowed all followers to see those posts. Social sites need to generate income themselves, so if you are a commercial operation, they want you to spend money to talk to your audience. For example, If 100 people follow your business and you write a post saying you have a big sale this weekend, probably only three people will see that message in their social feed. If you pay $100 to boost your post, 3,000 people would have the post in their feed. So, unfortunately, social media is not a free form of advertising.

An organic post is a post that gets its distribution simply by being on the social platform.
Boosted post refers to when money is paid to reach a larger audience for your post.

WHY should I use Social Media?

The key advantage of social media advertising is targeting a customer. If you use traditional advertising like an advertisement in a local newspaper, you are advertising to everyone who reads that newspaper. With social, you can specifically target an audience. For example, you could target females, 18-30, who drive a car and live in your town.

Social media will help build your brand and provide a link to your website, driving additional traffic.

Social media is more cost-effective in reaching a customer than traditional advertising, but it has a very short attention span. If not engaging, your posts can easily be missed.

WHAT you should know about Social media

When businesses first used social media to reach their customers, there was not much competition. This is very different now, and as it is a bidding-based system, if you have multiple parties bidding for the same audience at the same time, this drives prices up.

Social media is not just about advertising. You can use it to find candidates for your business through sites like LinkedIn and provide video tutorials on using your products like Youtube.

The ideal situation you find yourself in is that after you post some content, your audience is so engaged they repost to their connected audience. If this process goes exceptionally well, it is referred to as a viral post.

Social media is a 2-way platform. Just as you can talk to customers, they can easily talk back. As this is a public medium, everyone will see the comments. Unless the comments are deemed by general society as inappropriate, you cannot delete them. The positive here for your business is you get instant feedback and suggestions. The counter to this is people will speak their mind, especially if they are unhappy with you. You do have the opportunity of turning this around by engaging the customer publically or privately to resolve their issues. The net effect here is if you use social media, you must also monitor it and realise it is not a set and forget medium.

HOW can I promote my business using social media?

Before you start, you need a plan or a social media strategy. This plan will outline how you will use social media, your ideal outcome, and what types of content you will produce. Also very important is to have a schedule of how often and who will do the posting. Remember, it is not the most posts that win. Rather, the posts that are most interesting to the customer and shared by the customer. Other considerations for your strategy should include considering seasonal events like Christmas and whether your efforts will generate sales.

To post on social media, we suggest the following steps.
  1. Decide on which platform you will use
    • Facebook – social sharing
    • YouTube – videos
    • Instagram – pictures
    • LinkedIn – business and recruitment
    • Snapchat – users send and receive self-destructing photos and videos
  2. Visit the platform site and learn about their offering and the free tools they provide to assist you.
  3. Establish a business profile on the platform
  4. Write your first post
  5. Decide if you will amplify the distribution by paying money to boost the post to more people. If you do, you will have the option to target by factors like demographics, location, and interests.
  6. Be ready to respond to comments from your post (if you do not, customers quickly form the opinion you do not care)
  7. Post more content and repeat.


Always include an image.

You must be active every day with interesting content if you want to keep customers engaged. Interesting content is content the customer would find interesting, not what you might find interesting, and it should also be relevant—no point in posting about International Happy Day if it has no relevance to your product.

Social media is bound by advertising rules, and any false or misleading advertising will be subject to consumer law. See our essential guide on consumer law.

SUMMARY – engaging social content

Social media is great for economically building a brand and promoting your business to a targeted audience. You must commit to the media ongoing and create content that engages the end-user. Boosting content will help you reach a greater audience. You should be aware and available to reply to comments.

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