Social Media Marketing (SMM) is all the buzz these days. However, as SMM gets more and more popular, it’s also getting more and more complex. New platforms are popping up every day and each platform is changing at orb-speed. It’s hard to keep up. That’s probably why bigger companies tend to have whole armies of people looking after their ever growing number of social media accounts and spending all their time understanding the platforms and users and how to leverage it best for their brand.

But what if you’re a smaller business and simply can’t afford to have even just one person dedicated to Social Media Marketing but still want to take advantage of the opportunities? How can you make sure you focus your limited time on the right things?

We’ve asked seven social media marketing experts to share their number one SMM tip - the one thing they would recommend you do, to get the most out of your social media activity. Here is what we learnt:

Seven Social Media Marketing experts share their top tips

Mark Hurley from Little Giant: Understand your brand

“Understand your brand identity. It is important for all businesses before they begin to communicate in any form (and particularly relevant for 2 way communication channel such as social), that they understand first who they are and how they want to communicate. Spend some time yourself, or invest with a branding agency to outlining and document a brand strategy for your company. This should include things such as who you are, what you do, why you do it, your vision, your elevator pitch, your value proposition, tone of voice etc etc. This document should help keep communication across all channels consistent and relevant.”

Jonathan Henning from SocialKiwi: Know your Target Market

“Ensure that you know your target market and have identified the different personas you are trying to engage with or reach. Catching the right people at the right time is not as difficult as it may seem and with Facebook's targeting tools you can be very deliberate and specific. Using Facebook's 'Topics', you can gain maximum reach through relevancy by creating ads targeting your market during times of change which ensures you can take advantage of latest trends to gain maximum organic reach.”

"Catching the right people at the right time is not as difficult as it may seem" — Jonathan Henning, SocialKiwi

Jef Kay from Easy Social Media: Engage with your Audience

“Keep "hard selling" to a minimum - find a "language" or tone of voice that fits with your demographic the most - remember personality & being personable - engage with your audience - tweet back! - ask your audience questions & get them involved - curate your imagery - spelling is key - be honest about your product - listen to feedback from audience - know your audience!”

Danni Barnes from Buzz Marketing: Get your language and images right

“When preparing a Facebook advertising campaign, know your target audience. Use images that reflect places they live or activities they do, this familiarity attracts attention. When overlaying text on your image, use a light/medium font not a bold/heavy one. This will help keep the text under the 20% coverage threshold. Connect with potential customers in your advertising copy. Be positive, try using humour, amusing honesty or be aspirational. Does your copy make sense? Is it relevant? Read the advert out loud and get someone else to read it, sometimes we get too close to the action to be objective. Make sure you add an incentive to tag or share. Always remember the What’s In It For Me rule!”

Christy Laurence from Plann: Use a consistent set of colours, fonts and images

“Consistency with colour schemes. Try your best to be as consistent as you can with brand artwork, colours and imagery! The first thing people will notice about your business is your colour scheme and how it makes them feel. Lighter colours will help them feel relaxed, and bolder darker colours generally make big statements. Find where you fit. By having a consistent set of colours, fonts and images you'll be able to establish faster, your audience will know who is talking to them before they've even read your message - keeping you top of mind (and perfect for repeat business!). Make (or ask a designer) for a visual colour scheme that you can physically refer to. If you're ever questioning if something doesn't fit? You've got a ready-made guide you can quickly look over and decide to use it or not and get on with your next task.”

"Try your best to be as consistent as you can with brand artwork, colours and imagery!" — Christy Laurence, Plann

Julie Delaforce from Quiip: Balance your objectives with your audience’s needs

“The one thing I find most helpful for clients I've worked with and trained is to always bear in mind your objective and to balance that with your audience's needs. When composing content ask how it contributes to achieving your objective. When working on social media ads ask if the spend is worthwhile in relation to what you’ve set out to achieve. As you respond and engage with your audience ensure you listen to what they say and respond considering the goals you’ve set for your business or brand. Monitor your analytics and understand what's working to communicate your message. Do more of what's working and less of what's not.

Social media isn't free. Even if you're not advertising you're spending valuable time on it and it needs to provide you with a return. We all know time is money and working to your objective helps you fulfil your strategy and meet audience needs which is what you need for social media success.

"All of your social media activity needs to reflect what values your business holds" — Chloe, Social Media Creative

Chloe Waugh from Social Media Creative: Reflect your business’s values

“Ask yourself, what does your business value? It is important to know this, really well. All of your social media activity needs to reflect what values your business holds dear; in doing this, it will make keeping your message consistent a whole lot easier. Your business might highly regard customer service, product quality, sustainability, education or professionalism. What ever unique values and qualities your business offers it's customers or clients, being able to reflect this effectively across all of your platforms is going to make your brand stand out.”

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