social media

Leverage Social Media to Grow Your Business in the UK

Kurt GraverBusiness Development, Business Start-up Advice, Marketing & Sales

Social media has transformed the business landscape, providing innovative ways for large and small companies to connect with customers, build their brands, and drive growth. With over 50 million social media users in the UK alone, these platforms offer immense potential to entrepreneurs looking to turn their ideas into thriving businesses. 

This comprehensive guide will equip you with organic and paid social media marketing strategies to help get your startup off the ground and expand its reach in a competitive digital world.

Crafting an Overall Social Media Strategy 

Before diving into specific tactics, developing a solid social media marketing plan aligned with your overarching business goals is vital. Here are some key tips for UK entrepreneurs:

Set Concrete Goals

Define what you want to achieve on social media with precise objectives and metrics. Common goals include:

  • Increasing brand awareness and recognition
  • Generating leads and sales
  • Building an engaged community and loyal following 
  • Driving website traffic and conversions
  • Improving customer satisfaction and retention

Set specific, quantified targets to track progress. Having clear KPIs focuses efforts and enables precision measurement for optimisation.

Understand Your Audience  

Research your ideal customers extensively – who they are, their needs, which platforms and formats they prefer, and what content resonates most in your industry. Persona profiles with demographic as well as psychographic details are instrumental here.

Tap analytics tools like Facebook Analytics, Twitter Analytics, Google Analytics, and leading influencer marketing platforms provide rich audience insights around interests, habits and purchase behaviour. 

Such data will be invaluable in ensuring content and engagement tactics are effectively tailored.  

Audit Your Capabilities

Thoroughly assess existing assets like website design and functionality, blog quality, email list size, visual asset inventory and staff skills. Identify strengths as well as any gaps needing investment to address.

For example, an audit may reveal website loading speeds, imagery resolutions, and blog content depth need improving before showcasing these assets prominently on social channels.  

Choose Platforms Strategically

Determine which platforms your audience uses most regularly and which align best with campaign goals and content formats based on their functionality and demographics. It’s generally best to focus on just 1-3 channels first. 

Leading platforms like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, TikTok, YouTube and Pinterest have nuances. For instance, TikTok is skewed towards younger demographics, while LinkedIn facilitates professional connections.

Map Out an Editorial Calendar

Plot and map social media content themes, topics and formats month-by-month over the next 6-12 months within an editorial calendar. Planning long-term ensures continual value.

Consistency with posting and community interaction is critical for organic reach and engagement. Without it, previous efforts can be eroded. 

Building an Organic Audience Through Value and Connection

Organic social media marketing centres on providing value to forge lasting connections with no paid promotion. This long-term goodwill pays dividends as followers grow, engage and convert better thanks to brand affinity earned over time through accountability and transparency. Consider these organic tactics:

Share Authentic Stories

Social media creates opportunities to convey your brand ethos, personality, and story more intimately through images, videos, and updates showing how you contribute value, success stories, and behind-the-scenes footage. 

Such narrative-based content forges emotional connections and builds rapport. Help followers relate to the people behind your brand on a human level.

Content campaigns highlighting admirable company values, social impact initiatives, sustainability practices and community support also resonate strongly when communicated with authentic transparency rather than dubious virtue signalling. 

Outdoor apparel retailer, Patagonia’s thought-leading #VoteOurPlanet initiative led to record voter turnout levels in the 2020 US elections by mobilising people to vote for climate-conscious candidates across parties. This demonstrated inspirational ESG leadership with integrity.

Foster Interaction

Social networks thrive based on two-way engagement. Respond promptly to queries, feedback and mentions using a helpful, friendly tone. Customers notice speed, accuracy, and tone closely in interactions.

Also, actively participate in discussions relevant to your community. Comment meaningfully on industry trends, current events and advice threads where appropriate.  

Such dialogue shows you listen and increases brand visibility incrementally by organically bringing you into new conversations without confrontation or agenda. 

Software provider Freshworks engages followers daily via light-hearted banter, empathy and humour. This viral tactic has helped it gain over 728,000 Twitter followers.

Run Creative Contests

Campaigns encouraging user-generated content such as contests, hashtag challenges or quizzes stimulate strong participation when rewards are compelling. 

Offer prizes creatively thematically linked to your brand persona, like product bundles, gift cards, event tickets or discounts. Such relevance, when paired with value, earns attention.

For example, Manchester-based confectionery company Swizzels Matlow holds annual Halloween candy photo competitions highlighting creativity and product-centric concepts.

Curate Valuable Insights 

Become an industry thought leader and trusted advisor by curating and sharing articles, research reports, statistics, how-to guides, trend analyses, predictions, conference keynotes, inspirational talks, case studies, infographics, videos, podcasts and more that your audience will appreciate for their educational or entertainment worth. 

Such value-added content positions your brand as an authoritative curator amid noisy excess content of varying quality across social media. It also nurtures your community with the helpful utility they crave.

Using stats from reputable sources like Ofcom, Oxford Economics, Statista, eMarketer, Forrester, and Mintel adds credibility. Produce custom charts and datasets illuminating your industry for media outlets to extract insights from. Provide unique value they can only generate with your niche experience.

Expanding Your Exposure through Paid Social Campaigns

While organic activity focuses on nurturing existing followers who know your brand, paid advertising enables you to get discovered by many more previously unaware potential customers. This amplifies reach immensely.

PPC Campaigns 

Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising immediately displays your ads prominently alongside search engine and social media results pages based on targeted keywords and demographics. You pay only when someone clicks your ad.

Research hundreds of relevant keyword variations regularly as preferences evolve. Organise keywords systematically into tightly themed ad groups filtered by product line, service category or other taxonomies matching business units.  

For added impact, split brand keywords containing your company name from more competitive generic keywords around market needs met. This allows separate targeting strategies. Register common misspellings of brand names, too.

Craft compelling, emotional, yet benefit-oriented ads optimised for conversions. Test ad variations with unique messaging, designs, imagery, offers and calls-to-action to determine what resonates best. What motivates clicks or leads?

Continuously A/B test ads and modify bids based on performance data, tweaking copy, visuals, landing pages and more to improve incrementally. Work closely with the platforms’ account managers for optimisation tips.

WordStream shows the UK sees 21% higher paid search CTRs than the global average. Thanks to world-leading digital maturity, this tactic is particularly effective, demonstrating immense potential. Yet many businesses still need to catch up on it.

Promoted Posts and Partnerships

Most social platforms now offer promoted posts, allowing you to convert your best-performing organic content assets into paid ads for amplified reach. Sponsored influencer content provides exposure to new audiences, too. 

This takes your most engaging blogs, videos, podcasts, etc., and targets lookalike audiences resembling existing customers – people are more likely to show interest based on similarities like demographics, interests, and behaviour patterns. Such laser-focused amplification converts at higher rates when aligned with their preferences.

When partnering with influencers for market access, clearly outline campaign expectations, provide them with co-branded creative assets that optimally blend brand identities, and create amplified distribution opportunities for their work. Successful partnerships leverage their creative talent and community knowledge while preserving your brand essence.

Ensure you can thoroughly track performance through clear attribution from start to sale, so actual ROI on sponsorships is calculated, not guesstimated. Every pound must be justified.  

UK fashion retailer Missguided increased sales by 169% via influencer collaborations. But niche ‘micro-influencers’ with extremely loyal, highly engaged audiences under 100,000 often create better returns than broad celebrity influencers with inflated following counts. Work with relevant voices.

Sophisticated Targeting

Today’s ad targeting capabilities allow remarkable hyper-segmentation where you can reach exact niches based on demographics like age, gender, income level, and education; interests like hobbies, habits or cultural preferences; behaviours like browsing history, past purchases; time on site; psychographics around attitudes, values and intentions; location details encompassing countries, cities, postcodes proximity to stores plus more. Targeting makes spending very efficient, with higher conversion rates, thanks to personal relevance.

Options to explore include:  

Contextual Targeting: Ads are displayed alongside relevant media content, like financial services ads and finance articles. This approach essentially leverages the visitor’s temporary mindset based on consumed content when focused on – and thus receptive to – messages around that topic. Trigger such situational relevance. 

Behavioural Targeting: Targets are based on how the audience acts and what they do, such as profiling their past purchases, pages visited, links clicked, content downloads, shopping cart activity, time on site and much more. Retarget people who already know you with related offers as they move towards purchase. Behaviour indicates interest verified through actions, separating serious prospects from casual visitors.

Geotargeting: Target users located in chosen postcodes, cities, regions, or countries or within a specified radius in kilometres or miles around physical company locations like retail stores, offices, or events. Geotargeting enables location-specific personalisation.

CRM Targeting: Upload email lists into platform advertising pools to reach current customers to increase retention and contacts like subscribers and previous inquiries to reconnect with them via social channels after onboarding lapses. Remarket broadly across Google, Meta and more based around explicit consent captured previously during sign-up journeys for email lists, etc.

Lookalike Audiences: Using custom partner algorithms, identify and target social media users who share inherent qualities and attributes with existing customers. This expands your reach to more people, resembling top customers in demographics, interests, behaviour patterns, etc. Great for boosting conversions.

Budget Best Practices  

When allocating budgets towards paid social activities, it’s advisable to start experimental campaigns with a small test budget, closely measure incremental returns across the website, social media, in-store and call centre with properly configured conversion tracking, and then methodically scale the budget up or down accordingly based on granular performance data. This scientific approach is critical for calculating true ROI across organisations.

Many smaller businesses succeed, initially spending just £200-£500 per month while conservatively testing concepts before significant investments best informed through experimentation at a smaller scale. Have the courage to fail small, learn fast, iterate tactics, prove assumptions, and then expand investment once confidence in positive ROI is established.

Tying It All Together  

Ultimately, every successful social media marketing strategy necessitates an integrated, well-balanced marketing mix encompassing organic and paid elements, leveraging their strengths to achieve overarching goals. 

Here are some best practices applicable to both spheres to drive ROI across social activities:

Consistent Posting: Post frequently using both owned organic and paid means. But avoid excessive blatant promotional messaging. Balance publicity, entertainment and community service weighted appropriately across products, workplace culture and value-added industry discourse. 

Value-Focused Content: Helpful information and engaging entertainment trump hard sell. Strive to listen, inform, inspire, delight, and converse with your ecosystem before directly requesting conversions through links or contact forms. Guide subtly; don’t gatekeep.

Optimisation: Continuously fine-tune initiatives based on built-in analytics and metrics for pages, posts, campaigns, etc., as well as softer community feedback. Religiously track volumes, durations, referrers, demographics, devices, operating systems, browsers, locations and marketing attribution. Master this responsive refinement approach with precision.  

Cohesiveness: Maintain consistent brand continuity across channels, campaigns and teams through coordinated workflows. Infuse company personality purposefully into all activities. Align overlapping stakeholder efforts towards common KPIs.

Education: Proactively invest in developing specialist social media expertise internally through training programs, workshops, online courses and events to optimally develop proficiency in using these tools so capabilities accumulate. Alternatively, hire experienced freelancers well-versed in maximising social tools tied to marketing objectives. Either way, ensure your team embraces these platforms meaningfully.  

By diligently weaving these social media techniques into marketing strategies starting from launch, UK startups can drive awareness, enquiries, applicants, leads, add-to-cart rates, free trials, conversions, customer satisfaction, loyalty, referrals, reviews and other KPIs instrumental to revenue growth and helping ambitious business goals become reality faster through measurable optimisation of branded touchpoints, community engagement, lead funnel evolution and sales conversion leveraging data-driven decision making.

The Time is Now  

This guide should provide a strong foundation with both breadth exploring big-picture strategy development and depth navigating specific organic community-building tactics alongside paid amplification tools for expanding exposure.

We covered considerable ground here – from goal-setting, audience research, channel selection, and content frameworks to storytelling, interaction facilitation, content marketing, content curation, PPC, partnerships, creative ad formats and targeting capabilities available through social platforms and integrated complementary mar-tech solutions.

The keys are conveying genuine value consistently, engaging humanely, listening attentively, optimising activities analytically and balancing messaging across organic and paid vehicles. Brand building requires participating in a two-way dialogue to understand needs, not just broadcasting glossy publicity. Support first, sell second.

There’s no universal formula guaranteeing viral fame and runaway revenues instantly. But brands investing thoughtfully in social ecosystem participation reap significant rewards in time as they optimise how technology connects enterprises and consumers transparently through educational and emotional experiences where both give and gain value according to their priorities. 

Community-driven commerce builds loyalty and longevity over quick conversions from interruption advertising. Trust must be earned through accountability.

So devote substantial focus daily to nurturing your branded presence across social channels – it will pay dividends as you evolve start-up dreams into thriving ventures equipped to meet modern customer expectations.