mobileOnline, your business is not just competing with other businesses. You’re up against everything from world news to Candy Crush and cat photos! But with an effective online platform, you can still attract your customers’ attention.

Here are some tips shared by Charles Ubaghs, Head of Social Media at Global Radio, at last week’s Generate masterclass:

1. Create great content

Great content builds up an understanding with your customers of who you are and what you do. It tells a story about you, your brand and how your brand will benefit customers’ lives. Good content should be tailored to different online platforms and can include articles, pictures, blogs, videos, voucher codes and timely replies. For Uber, giving customers money-off vouchers provided viral digital marketing for the brand. For more information about creating viral content, read Contagious: how to build word of mouth in the digital age by Jonah Berger.

Great content is also how people find and connect with you. Think about the keywords your customers will be searching for on Google and other search engines, and ensure you use them in your content.

2. Be brand appropriate

Durex recently tweeted ‘Happy International Literacy Day!’, but how are literacy and condoms related? Joining in with social media trends may help you reach a wider audience and get more followers, but it’s only useful if you’re expressing a message that is brand-appropriate and therefore generating an audience interested in your brand. Make sure your content is relevant to your business and what it stands for.

Content can and should still be fun and current. One of Classic FM’s most popular social media posts was a game, Composer or Pasta?, where people had to decide if each word was either a composer or a type of pasta. Another popular Classic FM post was about Robin Williams’ death, highlighting a quote where he expressed his love of music.

3. Choose appropriate platforms

Think about both your audience and your brand when selecting which online platforms to use. What platforms are being used by your target market? Which platforms are most appropriate for you to convey your brand message? Whatever platforms you choose, make sure they are mobile-friendly. The main place that people access the internet now is on mobiles and tablets.

Do you need a website, a blog or both? A blog combined with social media may be as effective as a fancy website in reaching your customers. WordPress and Tumblr are both versatile blogging tools. Whether you choose a website or blog (or both), make sure to think about keywords (for search engine optimisation) and shareable headlines when writing articles.

Facebook is the biggest social media platform with 1.35billion monthly active users, though its newsfeed algorithm (which decides which updates people see) may make it difficult for your posts to reach customers. Use Facebook effectively by keeping posts short, regular and including large images.

Twitter has 284million monthly active users and more than 500million tweets are shared each day. Tweets are restricted to 140 characters, but shorter tweets (up to 110 characters) are more likely to get engagement. Use Twitter to maximum effect by following and interacting with influencers (Twitter users with large numbers of followers), and including hashtags and images in your posts.

Both Facebook and Twitter also offer fairly affordable advertising – if you use it, make sure to target it so you reach the right customers!

YouTube has 1billion monthly users and 100 hours of video content is uploaded every minute. YouTube can be used to generate income by monetising (adding adverts to) your videos, but copyright is a challenge.

Instagram has 200million monthly active users and 60million photos are posted each day. It’s more popular with teenagers and young people than Facebook, and the audience is also 15 times more engaged. Instagram works best when your images tell a story about your brand, and you add hashtags and engage with other accounts.

LinkedIn can also be useful for entrepreneurs, as it gives the opportunity to network and it’s a great platform for blogging.

4. Don’t overstretch yourself

You don’t need to be on all social media platforms. It’s better to have really good content and engagement on one or two platforms than using many poorly. Only sign up to be on a social media platform if you can tailor your content to it and respond to all the replies and queries that customers put forward. If you’re providing poor content and ignoring unhappy customers, it will create a negative image for your business.

Luckily there is help available for scheduling content, so you don’t need to be online 24 hours a day! Tools such as Facebook scheduling, Tweetdeck, Hootsuite and Buffer can be helpful in planning content and monitoring interaction with your brand.

5. Collect and analyse data

The key to creating an effective online platform for your business is to experiment, collect data and adapt. Try posting at different times of day to see when people are online, or try different headlines to see which capture your audience’s interest. Make sure to collect data about your audience (using tools such as Google Analytics, Facebook insights and Twitter analytics) and use it to plan future content to maximise engagement.

For more information about using analytical data, read Lean analytics: use data to build a better startup faster by Alistair Croll and Benjamin Yoskovitz.

Finally, remember that creating and maintaining a good online presence requires hard work and persistence. Don’t think only in terms of particular marketing campaigns – plan year-round content that tells the story of you and your business.

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