Become socially savvy


Sarah Marks offers some helpful guidance on how to increase your business’s social media presence.

Social media is marketing Marmite. People will often love it or hate it. However, with more than 45 million social media users in the UK and people nearly 60% more likely to buy from a brand they follow on social media, it’s a marketing tool you can’t afford to overlook.

Having decided to have a social media presence, you need to find your customers. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, and now Snapchat, TikTok, and Vero. There are many social media platforms; it can be challenging to know which ones will best serve your business. A social media strategy involves finding your customers and identifying the best platforms on which to engage them. It’s important to note that you don’t have to be on every platform. It’s far more beneficial to be active on a single platform and be managing it well than to spread yourself thinly across them all.


With more than 70% of UK adults reachable on Facebook, this platform provides retailers with an excellent opportunity to connect with potential customers. Facebook’s recent focus on groups enables you to more easily identify and engage with people who share common interests than ever before.


Twitter is another platform retailers can use to raise awareness of their brand and connect with potential customers through the use of searchable hashtags. People on Twitter interested in pets may well search hashtags, such as #petcare or #petproducts. Using these hashtags in your tweets can help you to be seen by a wider audience. Another interesting feature of Twitter is Twitter Chats. These are specific times of the week when people will join Twitter to discuss similar interests by using the same hashtag in each Tweet. #WoofWoofWednesday takes place at 8pm every Wednesday night and involves people sharing details of their pet-related businesses and products. You may also find Twitter Chats relating to your local area. #WorcestershireHour is a successful chat that takes place at 8pm on a Monday night for businesses in the surrounding area. If you can’t find a Twitter Chat for you, don’t be afraid to start one. Just be sure to promote it as much as possible in advance to ensure people know when to start tweeting.


Instagram is another platform that can work well for retailers and tends to target a younger audience, compared to Twitter and Facebook. Images are everything here, so you’ll need to be able to produce high-quality images to share with your followers. Instagram is also the home of influencer marketing. Working with people that have a large, engaged audience can help raise awareness of your brand to a greater number of people. However, be careful to align your brand to someone whose values reflect those of your business and your customers.

Having identified the platforms you’re going to put your time and energy into, it’s essential to have a strong content strategy in place. The biggest mistake a business can make on social media is to sell, sell, sell. You need to provide value in your content; otherwise, people will unfollow you pretty quickly.

Never forget the “social” aspect of social media. Imagine a platform as a party. You don’t want to be that person that butts into conversations and only talks about themselves. The most engaging guests are the ones that show an interest in others and can join in the conversation without taking it over. Offering practical pet care advice, introducing people to rare breeds, or sharing details of animal charities are great ways to provide additional value to your audience. If you regularly provide them with interesting content, they’re going to be much more receptive when you do discuss your products or services.

Awareness days provide you with an opportunity for content and to get involved in wider conversations. April 1 to May 10, 2020, is National Pet Month, aimed at promoting responsible pet ownership. Get involved by using the hashtag #NationalPetMonth.

Social media is a powerful way to communicate with potential and existing customers. Use your channel to help them understand who you are. If your customer gets a positive sense of you as a retailer, then they’re more likely to engage with you. Post photographs and stories of the running of your business to give them a behind the scenes view. Also, use the platform to find out more about them. Polls and are an easy way to both engage with customers and generate market research. Competitions are popular across social media. However, it’s important to adhere to the rules of running competitions, as these do vary on each platform.

Video is currently the most influential content you can share on social media, and live video is the best way to ensure as many people see your content as possible. It can be nerve-wracking to put yourself and your business live online. Pre-recording a short tour of your store to introduce them to new products would be a great way to get started with video. Once you have an engaged audience and feel more comfortable in front of the camera, then perhaps run a live Q&A on a specific topic of pet care.

While you can achieve a lot on social media through the activities outlined, you will undoubtedly see faster growth if you invest in your platforms with advertising. Advertising on Facebook enables you to identify your ideal customer and then show your adverts only to people that display the same characteristics and online activities as that ideal customer. It provides a relatively low cost, but an extremely targeted way to advertise.

An area of social media that often makes businesses nervous is customer services. Social media has given unprecedented power to customers when they’re unhappy with the service they receive. There will always be a risk that someone will post something negative about your business online; therefore, it’s vital to have a process in place to deal with them effectively. Never ignore negative comments. Reply promptly and invite them to contact you away from the platform by asking them to direct message you so that their concerns can be addressed as a priority.

Wondering how you’re going to find the time to commit to social media? There are a variety of free and paid-for tools available that can help you manage your channels. Scheduling tools remove the pressure of having to post every day, with Hootsuite, perhaps the most well-known. Numerous planners and calendars are available online to provide you with content inspiration when you find yourself running out of ideas.

Social media gives you extraordinary access to your customers, but be aware it’s continually evolving, with algorithms changing and new tools being added frequently. All platforms provide analytics enabling you to track what works best for your business and it’s essential to monitor this. Don’t focus on the number of followers you have. It’s more beneficial to have a smaller, more engaged number of followers. If people are engaging with your content, they’re more likely to purchase from you.