Every small business should make it paramount to use the best platforms when engaging with customers. There is more to customer interaction than just emailing and social media is the answer when scaling up.

According to Statista, nearly 50% of the world's population uses social media. That shows that social media has a strong impact in how your business appears (or not) online.

With so many social media platforms out there, finding the right ones for your business and also having a clear understanding of how to use it effectively is crucial.

We've compiled a list of social media tips to help you out.

You can also find tips on how to generate traffic with our SEO guide here.

Additional reporting by Hannah Williams

Do your market research

It is important to do your research before delving into the world of social media marketing. Consider your audience and find out what social media platforms they are likely to be on, how you can get their attention and the best times of the day to post for engagement.

With a number of social media platforms available, there are only some that will provide extensive customer engagement and benefits when it comes to marketing.

Use the same handle for all platforms

Consistency is key in every marketing strategy, which means that using the same handle for every platform is equally as important. This will allow people to easily find you on various platforms.

Using different handles can confuse your target audience and it is important to give your audience easy access, especially when you're starting up. This will also enable you to stand out from competitors in your market space.

Be consistent

Once you've decided the best platforms for your business, you have to remain consistent with posting. It is best to keep your customers engaged and increase your follow reach, and the best way to do this is by posting consistently - but not too often.

There are social media automation tools available if you struggle to post manually yourself. These tools are built to hep schedule social media posts across one single dashboard, and you can easily space out your posts to ensure followers don't get brand fatigue.

Some examples include Hootsuite and Buffer, there are free scheduling options available also.

Assess your social media channels

Before beginning a social media campaign or reshuffle, it’s vital that you gather all current metrics of your social media channel in order to measure growth, and determine what works and more importantly, what doesn't (and could harm your brand).

Key metrics worth taking down are followers/likes, clicks on links, mentions/shares, impressions and profile visits.

A weekly and monthly log of changes in these channels is the best way to monitor changes.

Respond as quick as possible to negative comments

Understandably, with small teams it's difficult to respond to each comment or tweet as soon as they come in. However, for negative comments the faster the response, the less likely they are to be annoyed (obviously).

Acknowledging the negative comment within an hour is the best was to quickly defuse a potentially brand damaging situation.

Don't just promote your own products or services

Your followers don't just want to see shameless promotion, they want interesting discussion, retweets and an insight into 'office life'.

Posting a messages like 'Happy Friday' or asking a topical question could generate much more social attention than a plug for a product.

Use emojis

No one likes to feel like they're talking to a robot.

Social media marketers should show emotion in every tweet, whether it's excitement for a new product or a sincere apology for a glitch in service.

Emojis are a great way of doing that, although without stating the obvious, don't over do it!

Use Hashtags

As we know, hashtags can open up your tweets to a variety of different groups, people and further social promotion. But 'irresponsible' hashtagging - hashtagging every word - is not going to win you any fans and probably won't make your content discoverable to the right audience anyway.

Create a social media calendar

By creating a calendar of scheduled social posts, you'll be able to figure out which times of day provide the biggest return on your measured key metrics. What's more, a calendar should stop over-posting and posting the same content too many times.

Know when to post

As we know, you'll be able to determine the best times to post by using a social media calendar and measuring that against your key metrics. But it's also worth noting that for most business profiles, tweeting or posting on the hour will result in being hidden among the thousands of others that tweet on the hour every hour.

So opting to tweet at off peak times (for example, 6.03pm or 10.35am) could mean your post miss the rush and will be more visible to your audience.

Direct unhappy customers away from your social page

Without being heartless, you don't want your corporate Facebook or Twitter page full of threads trying to resolve issues. To make sure this doesn't happen, startups can create a dedicated social page designed to to deal with customer issues and 'gently' direct them to this page to discuss the issue further.

Create a house style

Finding a 'voice' that represents your startup's social presence is a great way of creating the perception of a reliable brand.

Publishing chatty informal tweets twinned with corporate lingo is confusing and won't result in a loyal following.

Instead create a best practice guide if there is multiple people tweeting from your accounts so all posts fit the overall message you're promoting.

Use paid advertising

Most social media channels will offer a paid advertising platform for businesses wanting to grow social reach. You should test the waters first, running small campaigns to see if this is something that will work for your brand and make sure they are specifically targeted for your target audience.

This could get the ball rolling, but might not be a long term solution for some brands wanting to grow in popularity.