A finger tapping a smartphone, with a laptop in the background

A complete guide to social media for business users


Effective use of social media is a critical part of any business’ digital marketing strategy. Find out everything you need to know about how to make the most of this in order to boost traffic, engage customers and improve your brand image.

Why is social media important for business users across all sectors?

No digital marketing strategy in 2024 is complete without a social media element. These platforms are among the most effective ways to communicate directly with customers, demonstrate exactly who you are and showcase what you have to offer.

What’s more, if you aren’t engaging via social channels, you’re already a step behind your competitors. For example, in the US, almost 92 per cent of marketing professionals at companies with more than 100 employees are expected to include social media in their activities. Meanwhile, in the UK, around one in three small businesses use Facebook as their primary means of sales generation.

It’s therefore clear that, no matter if you’re a global corporation or a small local enterprise, having an active presence on social networks is an essential part of any marketing strategy. 

However, getting this right is easier said than done, which is why it’s essential to have a strong understanding of the basics of managing a social campaign and be able to turn to professional help if you need an additional boost.

What is social media used for among busineses?

There are a wide range of options for social media usage among businesses, from top-level awareness campaigns to customer service activities that seek to engage with users on a one-to-one basis.

Some of the most common applications for these platforms include:

  • Boosting brand awareness – Get your company’s name out there and make sure it sticks in the minds of potential customers.
  • Driving traffic – Links back to your website help to improve the reach of your content and get people into your sales funnel.
  • Generating leads – Engaging directly with customers helps identify potential prospects for nurturing and guiding further down the user journey.
  • Increasing sales – Direct selling on social sites or advertising specific products or services is a great way to improve total sales figures.
  • Understanding your audience – Analysing who’s interacting with you on social media helps build understanding of your customers to inform future strategies.
  • Showing thought leadership – Offering your opinion on the latest trends or industry developments, or just keeping up with what people are talking about, cements your position as experts in your sector.
  • Engaging with users – Whether it’s customer support or general help and advice, having direct conversations with users helps build deeper connections with existing customers.

What are the benefits of using social media for business?

One of the major advantages of social media is that it lets you meet customers where they already are. According to Sprout Social, there are an estimated 5.17 billion social media users worldwide in 2024, with the average consumer spending 143 minutes a day on these platforms. 

The chances are that these users will already be very familiar with interacting with brands in these spaces, so it should be easy to get involved and start conversations without feeling intrusive.

What’s more, if you want to invest in paid advertising, social media offers an ideal platform for reaching out to the right audiences. The likes of Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn have some of the most comprehensive datasets on their users’ demographics, interests and desires of any company, and can use these to deliver highly-targeted campaigns that offer the best possible return on investment for your advertising spend. 

What are some of the key use cases for business social media?

We’ve noted above how there are a wide variety of purposes for social media marketing. Let’s look at some of these in a bit more detail to see how they work and what results you should expect from them.

How can businesses use social media to drive website traffic?

One of the most common uses for social media is as an entry point to direct users to a specific page on your site, such as a longer blog, a product landing page or gated content such as downloadable guides.

With engaging social copy that encourages the reader to learn more about the subject, you can capture users at the top of the sales funnel and lead them directly into your desired user journey. However, from there, it’s essential your website is up to scratch in order to complete the conversion. This means strong copy, a clear call to action and intuitive user design, which are all essential elements of a holistic digital marketing strategy.

How can businesses use social media to increase brand awareness?

Simply getting involved in relevant conversations and producing regular, engaging content that matches your desired audience’s interests is a great first step in boosting your visibility on social channels and helping you connect with potential customers to ensure they remember your name. To do this, you need to be offering something compelling to your readership. This could be an opinion, an intriguing fact or stat or helpful advice, to name just a few options.

Firms also need to make sure they’re able to stand out in what is often a crowded environment. Therefore, striking graphics and video to catch the attention of users and get them to stop scrolling is essential if you’re planning a social media-based brand awareness campaign.

What role does social media play in customer engagement for businesses?

Direct customer engagement is one of the major advantages of social media compared with other platforms. These tools let you seek out customers who might have questions or concerns and respond in a more personal way, start conversations and build up relationships.

As these initially take place in public, you do need to be careful what you say, but by being open and direct with customers, other users will be able to see you as a responsive, engaged potential partner.

How can businesses use social media to generate leads?

If you’re running a specific campaign, such as promoting a new product or upcoming event, social media content is a great way to alert people who may be interested and set them on the path to conversion. By encouraging followers to click through to a landing page on your site, you can identify warm leads and help drive direct sales.

There are a number of ways to achieve good lead generation through social media, including targeted ads and offering incentives for engagement, but what they all need to have in common is compelling content that gives users a reason to interact with your brand. This is where having great content – both on your social feed and on your website – is essential.

How to create a social media marketing strategy

By now, the benefits of social media for businesses should be clear. But it’s one thing to understand why you should be doing this. It’s another to put it into practice. So what should you be aware of when it comes to planning, executing and evaluating your next social campaign?

Key components of a good social media marketing strategy

The first stage is making sure you have a comprehensive knowledge of each step of the process and what it involves. Posting itself is only one element of a good social media strategy, and if you’re going into this on an ad-hoc basis with no clear plan behind it, you’re unlikely to see positive results.

Therefore, follow the key steps below to ensure your efforts stand the best chance of success.

  • Conduct audience research – A critical initial step is learning who your target audiences are, where they like to hang out online and what their interests are. This helps you develop personas that give an overview of your ideal target audience.
  • Set clear goals – Identify exactly what you want to achieve from your efforts. The key here is to be as specific as possible – for example, ‘boost website traffic’ isn’t a measurable goal, but ‘ increase traffic to this page by X per cent’ is.
  • Decide on which social networks to target – Choosing the sites you want to engage on isn’t just about targeting the right audiences. It’ll also inform the type of content you create and how this is produced, down to elements such as character limits and aspect ratios for imagery and videos.
  • Set a clear budget – Particularly if you’re looking at paid social media advertising, having a clear idea of what you want to spend is critical. This will not only help understand what type of content you can create, but how widely you can distribute it. Then, make sure you stick to it to calculate your return on investment.
  • Have a clear posting schedule – Identifying the best time to post in order to reach your audience and keeping to this ensures your posting is as effective as possible. This will differ for various sites, so run tests to determine what times and frequency get the best results.
  • Produce great content – Concise yet engaging copy is vital to successful social platform posting. This should also be supported by strong visual content elements, whether this is infographics, custom graphics or live-action or animated video. If you don’t have the expertise to produce this in-house, a content marketing agency can provide all the skills you need.
  • Measure your performance – If you don’t know what worked and what didn’t, you’ll find it difficult to effectively refine your approach for the future. A strong analytics strategy helps you identify this and guide your next efforts. 

How often should a business post on social media?

Consistent posting is an important element of a social media strategy. While some campaigns may naturally be time-limited, it pays to also have regular, ongoing content to keep audiences up-to-date and show you’re on top of what’s happening in the market.

There’s no perfect answer for how often this should happen, but generally, you should aim for between three and five posts a week, depending on the platform. Users of some services, like Facebook or Twitter, will tolerate more frequent posting, but on sites like LinkedIn, this can come across as spammy.

You should also bear in mind what you’re posting about. For example, some businesses follow the ‘5:3:2 rule’, which states that for every ten updates you post, five should be sharing relevant content from other sources, three should be your own content – but not too salesy – and two should be personal, non-work related posts to humanise your brand. Of course, these aren’t hard and fast rules – find out what works best for you to showcase your own voice.

What is the best social media platform for businesses?

Choosing the right social media channel for a business is an essential part of any effective strategy, but this may not be as easy as it seems. Sprout Social notes the average consumer uses 6.7 different social networks a month. It won’t be practical or cost-effective to try reaching them on every service, so it’s important to focus your attention to the most relevant sites.

An initial consideration will be the number of users you’re likely to reach. By this metric, the top five biggest social media sites in the world, according to Statista, are:

  • Facebook (3.04 billion active users)
  • YouTube (2.49 billion)
  • WhatsApp (2 billion)
  • Instagram (2 billion)
  • TikTok (1.52 billion)

However, headline user numbers aren’t everything. For example, the likes of LinkedIn, Twitter and Pinterest may have much smaller overall userbases, but they often attract people with very specific interests. This means it can be easier to target certain campaigns or messaging and be certain your organic or paid social efforts are reaching the right audiences on these sites.

Which platforms will work best depends on a number of factors. The type of business you are and the audience you intend to reach are obvious factors (LinkedIn is likely to have a very different audience to TikTok, for example), but it’s far from the only consideration. Other questions to think about include what message you want to send, and what stage of the customer journey you’re aiming at. 

Should you focus on paid or organic social media marketing?

Another key question is whether to focus your efforts on building up your presence through organic posting or to reach into your pocket for paid advertising. Usually, this is not an ‘either/or’ question, as most brands can benefit from a mix of organic and paid social content. However, it’s helpful to understand the pros and cons of each and when they will be most beneficial.

Organic content

This refers to everything you post yourself across your various social network accounts to your followers, who will be able to interact with it and repost on their own feeds.

  • Pros: It’s low-cost, easy to get started with and helps you establish a clear voice for your content.
  • Cons: It requires a lot of time and expertise to get right and it can be a while before you start to see tangible results.
  • Great for: Brand awareness, customer engagement, building relationships.

Paid content

Also known as social media advertising, sponsored content or promoted content, this lets you pay social media platforms in order to ensure your content gets seen. This typically works on a pay-per-click basis, but other models such as pay-per-impression or engagement are available.

  • Pros: It’s highly targetable, delivers fast results and you only get charged for those that interact with the social ad directly.
  • Cons: Can be expensive for brands with limited resources and needs to be done carefully to not feel salesy or intrusive.
  • Great for: Lead generation, direct product/service promotion, increasing sales.

How can businesses measure the effectiveness of social media marketing efforts?

No social media strategy is complete without a plan to evaluate the results and take learnings into the next campaign. What did people respond to best? Was there any negative feedback from users? Did the campaign meet its overall objectives? 

When setting social media goals, it helps to keep in mind the SMART principles. These are:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Timely

Once you have these, you can start looking at what metrics you’ll need to be focusing on in order to determine their effectiveness. There are a wide range of analytics available from social media sites that you can use to analyse the success of the campaign. Some of the most important key performance indicators are:

  • Clickthrough rate
  • Engagement rate
  • Amplification rate
  • Impressions
  • Reach
  • Brand mentions
  • Video completion rate
  • Qualified leads generated
  • Conversions
  • Cost per click
  • Cost per thousand impressions

However, not all of these will be relevant to every situation. Make sure you choose the ones that best align with your SMART goals and define when setting out what results will be regarded as a success. This can be confusing for many businesses, so it can be beneficial to have the support of an expert social media analytics team as part of a digital marketing service to help you interpret what the numbers are telling you.

How can businesses use social media to target specific demographics?

One of the key benefits of social media services is the amount of data they have on their users, which can be tapped into when setting up a paid social media campaign. This can help you refine your target audience based on factors such as age, income, location, job role, interests, and much more. This is why, if you’re looking to target particularly niche audiences, a social media ad strategy is one of the best options available to businesses.

What are the challenges of using social media for business marketing?

Despite the wide range of benefits, social media for business is not without its challenges. If you don’t come into this with a clear plan or a consistent tone of voice, you may find yourself missing out. 

What are the risks of using social media for business marketing?

Amongst the potential risks that businesses may encounter when conducting social media activities are the potential for reputational damage if you say the wrong thing, security and compliance issues and possibly alienating your customers through overuse or an approach that is too overtly sales-focused.

You also need to be mindful of risks such as hacking. There are many examples of companies that have had their credentials compromised and have seen their pages taken over by inappropriate content. Therefore, you should make sure that all your corporate cybersecurity best practices extend to your social media accounts.

What are the common mistakes businesses make on social media?

One of the most common mistakes firms make is getting the tone of their content wrong. A highly corporate or promotional page can come across as dry and boring, which will result in fewer followers and less engagement. On the other hand, an account that is too casual may be viewed as insincere.

A social presence that’s inconsistent or doesn’t match the branding or tone of voice of the rest of your business can also lead to confusion among your target audience. Therefore, it’s vital that social media is treated as just one part of a holistic digital marketing strategy rather than taken in isolation.

There are many examples of bands that have gone viral thanks to quick-witted, irreverent social media accounts. However, this is a very fine line to walk and should be viewed as a high-risk strategy – it’s great if it works, but for every post that makes a splash, there are many more that fail to gain traction.

What is the best way to handle negative customer comments on social media?

Inevitably, having a social media presence will occasionally result in unwanted interactions, such as from dissatisfied customers. Many people now turn to social media as their first port of call to make a complaint – often because they know that a public forum demands a response.

It can be tempting to ignore this type of interaction, but this would be a mistake. Instead, make sure you’re acknowledging any issues as quickly as possible, listen to what your customers have to say and aim to move conversations to a private forum if they can’t be immediately resolved. 

Top tips for getting social media for business right

Social media is an always-on, constantly evolving platform, so you can’t expect to get everything right immediately. Refining and improving your strategy is something you have to factor into your planning, as good social engagement is a long-term project. 

With that said, bear in mind these key points and you’ll be well on your way:

  • Be selective with your social media presence – don’t try to overdo it or cover too many channels.
  • Create a meaningful connection with your customers – personal conversations are much more valuable than generic sales pitches.
  • Measure your results across all social networks – run trials like A/B tests and look closely at the KPIs to determine what works.
  • Hone your hashtag and social SEO strategies – good visibility is the key to success on social, so the right keywording and search engine optimisation best practices still apply on these platforms.

If you’re struggling with any of these, whether due to a lack of experience, software tools or limited in-house resources, turning to a specialist partner can be hugely useful. While there are many firms around that can help out with social media management activities such as running ad campaigns and responding to user queries, opting for a full service digital marketing agency like Axonn is the best way to develop a comprehensive approach that ensures your social media activities fit into your wider content strategy.

14 Minute Read

By Iain Pemberton | Updated

Iain is a senior member of Axonn’s editorial team and is an expert in tech. He should be; he’s been writing about the topic for more than 14 years.

Like what you see?

Let’s build something great.

Get in touch today and start the journey to success with Axonn.