Social media guide

UK flagInternet penetration in the UK is one of the highest in Europe with nearly 85% of people being connected to the internet. There are increasing numbers of highly connected individuals and organisations who have access to the internet and social media at work, at home and on the move.

In general, British SMEs are quite familiar with the use of social media. In fact, they use a wide range of social media networks for business purposes and acknowledge the way that different networks should be used for specific purposes. Most SMEs are open to developing new skills and acquiring further training.

Legislation covering the use of social media is being developed in the UK and the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) offers guidance, which stipulates that advertisers’ marketing communications on their websites and social networks should follow the same principles as other media.

Private individuals / Students

In the Passport to Trade 2.0 project survey, in the case of students, the most popular social networks are Facebook and YouTube, followed by Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+. There are significant variations in preference of social media between different age groups. Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn for example are used much more by people aged over 35, whereas YouTube is used mostly by people aged between 18 and 35.

Regarding social media etiquette, responses show significant similarities between SMEs and students in the UK. A major difference however, is related to “speaking to people you don’t know” which is seen as acceptable by British SMEs but unacceptable by British students. Therefore, students seem to be more cautious about who they communicate with; a relatively understandable behaviour as they share far more personal information on social media than SMEs.

Students have also mentioned some cultural differences. A relatively common difference can be exemplified by the following quote “I’ve noticed that people from different countries, mainly mainland Europe, don’t use their full names on social media sites like Facebook. Instead, they’ll use abbreviations or a middle name in place of their surname”.


In the UK, social media is increasingly being used by businesses and this was evidenced by the results of the Passport to Trade 2.0 project survey. In fact, British SMEs seem to use a wide range of social networks. Most popular among these are Twitter and LinkedIn, followed closely by Facebook. Due to the high use of Facebook amongst employees it is often blocked in many companies. LinkedIn seems to be particularly useful for companies who are experienced in working with foreign partners and highlights the capacity for international collaborations using social media. The most popular social networks in the UK are:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Pinterest
  • MySpace
  • Google+

There are a number of SMEs that do not currently use social media, this again is industry dependent, either because social media is not important to their business, because they don’t know how to use it, or because of a lack of resources.

Search and Social Media Marketing for International Business

Learn how to use social media for business from one of Salford Business School’s latest business management courses. The course was jointly researched by the Passport to Trade 2.0 project team and prepared in collaboration with some of the leading digital marketing agencies in the UK.

This Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) can help businesses and individuals to make the best use of search and social media platforms. The course is called Search and Social Media Marketing for International Business and is applicable to students looking for placements abroad as well as businesses thinking about new trade links; it comprises the following twelve topics:

Before you start the course please complete this short MOOC entrance survey.

How to develop a personal brand online (1/12)

  • Whether you are a student beginning a job search or a business person planning a new business venture, personal branding can make a difference.
  • Learn about personal branding and why it is important for you.

How to use Twitter (2/12)

  • Learn the basics of using Twitter to develop an individual or business profile.
  • Remember to use hash tag #SSMMUoS to share your learning journey on this course so far!

How to use Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) (3/12)

  • Learn the principles of SEO to ensure that your website and any social media profiles are found by individuals searching for your name, products and services.
  • These basic principles of SEO include keyword research, on-page optimisation and off-page optimisation.

How to use social media for international business development (4/12)

  • Social media networks break down the traditional country barriers, but do you know which networks are relevant for the country you are interested in trading with?
  • Find out in this video how to identify the relevant networks and what social media strategies you might be able to use on these networks.

How to use Facebook (5/12)

  • Facebook is currently the largest social media network in the world and it can benefit you as a business as well as an individual.
  • Learn how to develop a Facebook business page and see how other businesses use it and what strategies work for them.

How to use YouTube (6/12)

  • YouTube was identified as the second largest social network amongst younger internet users as part of the Passport to Trade 2.0 project.
  • Learn how to optimise your video content in order to reach wider audiences for your profile.

How to use LinkedIn (7/12)

  • LinkedIn is one of the three main professional social networks – the others being Xing and Viadeo which are also popular in several European countries.
  • Learn how to make the most of LinkedIn for your profile.

How to use Google+ (8/12)

  • Google+ is the second largest social network as of January 2013.
  • It is one of the fastest growing social networks and one that has the biggest impact when it comes to search engine results integration for anyone who uses Google as their main search engine.
  • Learn how to make the most of Google+ for you and your digital profiles.

How to use copywriting online (9/12)

  • Copywriting is a process of translating technical specifications and product descriptions into engaging and understandable customer focused text.
  • Learn about the basic techniques in structuring your online content here.

How to stay legal on social media (10/12)

  • Everything and anything you do and say online can be potentially viewed by anyone who has internet access.
  • Always respect the law and familiarise yourself with new options offered to you through a creative commons licence which is popular online.

How to use monitoring and reporting (11/12)

  • Whether you are an individual or a business spending time on social media – there has to be a return on your engagement online.
  • How do you justify your engagement on social media to your boss? Listen to the industry experts in this area and see what you might be able to measure in respect of your on-line engagements.

How to blog (12/12)

  • Blogging is a process of writing text and sharing content with others. It can help your customers or friends to keep in-touch regardless of social media platforms.
  • Think about the voice you might want to adopt and who your audience might be. Share your thoughts with us by writing a blog post about this MOOC.
  • Tweet us the link to your post on the #SSMMUoS Twitter hash tag.

Please complete the MOOC exit survey.

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