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A 5-step social media crash course to grow your business

You'll need regular, high-quality content and impeccable customer service. (Photo: Getty)

Aussie businesses fall way behind their Asian counterparts when it comes to harnessing social media.

Nearly half (44.8 per cent) of Aussie small businesses aren’t using social media for business purposes compared to 81.7 per cent across Asia that do, according to a CPA Australia survey.

And with 31 per cent of customers aged 35 or younger making purchases online after seeing them on social media, it’s a business opportunity that smaller companies are missing out on.

“More and more, digital natives expect to interact with brands in the context of their lives,” said PayPal director Peter Cowan. “Having a social presence is no longer a ‘nice to have’, it is a must have.”

For Adam Lindsay, founder of Australian eco-friendly cleaning start-up Koh, the online platforms are where customers come to learn about and connect with their product. Koh’s product sales jumped by 150 per cent after videos of the product were posted on Facebook, he said.

“Social media has completely changed the game for how we reach and interact with customers.”

If you want to make the most of social media but not sure where to begin, here’s PayPal’s guide on how to get started:

1. Build a community and post relatable content

With so many brands and businesses vying for attention, small businesses will have to create content that captures people’s attention.

“Relatable, thumb-stopping content can help to cut through branded posts, can drive higher engagement and will help you build a community with followers,” Cowan said.

If your product or service allows for it, a good rule of thumb will be to share useful, informative and practical content that people are already looking for, such as ‘how-to’s, hacks and tips.

2. Think visually

People will only linger for high-quality images, video or written content. “This can be a mix of planned curated posts and on-the-go updates or anecdotes,” Cowan said.

The trick will be to create cost-effective content that will drive sales.

“Think about the questions customers might have about your products when shopping online,” he said.

Just seeing an image online of your product may not be enough to draw the consumer in. “It’s also important to ensure your content brings your products to life.”

3. Engage with your audience

Too many brands launch their social pages with enthusiasm in the early stages, but then let the pages fall to neglect over time.

If you’re serious about your online presence, you’ll have to give thought to your social strategy, which means taking the time out to interact with followers and customers as well as posting content regularly – but you’ll be rewarded in customer loyalty.

“As a rule of thumb, to build your brand on social media it’s important to post at least once a day,” Cowan said.

“Developing a content calendar that outlines the type of post you will make each day can help make this manageable, and also allows you to think of new, creative ways to interact with your followers, while leveraging key cultural moments that are authentic to your brand.”

The quickest way to build a bank of content (and turn your customers into evangelists) is to repost images of your customers wearing or using your products.

4. Prioritise customer service

Building an audience takes time and patience, and as your brand’s social presence grows, your customers will ask questions or share feedback.

“It is important to respond and acknowledge the feedback you may receive across your social

channels in a timely manner,” Cowan said.

“The more you can engage with your followers the better community you can cultivate and the better experience you can offer.”

5. Choose the right platforms

More is not better: research and decide which platforms make the most sense for your business and audience, and invest your time and energy into those.

Attempting to manage too many social media pages that aren’t performing too well won’t be fruitful for anyone.

“Consumers will be looking to interact with you across multiple channels, however it’s important to get your strategy right across one or two core channels before expanding to multiple platforms,” advised Cowan.

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