Using the right social media channel could help your organisation to expand, grow your audience and build brand loyalty.

More organisations are using social media to do this, the latest Business Digital Index (PDF, 3.6 MB) shows:

Raise turnover

Businesses using social media are 50% more likely to increase their turnover

Reach customers

65% of businesses use social media to answer customer questions

Grow business

56% of businesses use social media to reach new customers

In this lesson, we’ll look at the most popular social media sites. You can compare them to see which ones could work for your organisation. We’ve got tips on posting comments in these apps, and advice on how to keep you – and your customers – safe while using them.


Throughout this lesson, we use the words ‘site’ and ‘app’ to describe social media. This is because some people know them only as mobile apps, while others use the website versions.


  • How to use social media to help people know your brand
  • How to keep users returning to your sites
  • How to use social media to increase turnover
  • The best sites to use

Read time:

9 mins

Chapter 1

What could social media do for you?

Read time:

1 min

“Social media has helped us to reach more people in need, connect with other organisations. So we can better help the people who come through our doors. It saves me a significant amount of time each day, which I can now use to develop meaningful partnerships, improve our services and secure much needed funding”

Jenny, Soul Food Edinburgh (Consumer Digital Index (PDF, 5.4 MB))

How social media can help

Turn visitors into brand followers

Using social channels, you can talk to people in real time. If you do this regularly, you could really get to know their needs. This makes your connections personal, simple and effective and may help turn them into brand followers.


Give better customer service

You can use social media to reply to complaints and questions in a quick and open way. Do this well, and it can help to build your organisation's reputation and brand loyalty. Social media conversations can also reduce the strain on other ways people contact you like phone or email.


Increase sales

Social media is a great way to promote your products and services. But remember, it’s a social setting. Trying the “hard sell” will put off potential customers. Social channels work best when people naturally decide to contact you. This happens when they’ve built up a positive image of you. They start to trust your brand, products and services.


Offer cost-effective marketing

Most social media websites are free to use, making them a more cost-effective way to reach the types of people you want to and boost your brand.

Chapter 2

Selecting the right social media apps

Read time:

3 mins

Selecting the best sites for you

With so many apps out there, you need to pick the right ones for you. In this chapter, we ask: what do you want to get out of social media?

We’ll look at some of the most popular sites. As you read through each one, ask yourself ‘does this look like it would work for me?’. Not all of these apps might suit your needs or reach the type of people you are trying to talk to. Look at the different sites before you decide which ones are right for you.


Select each social media site to find out more

  • This is the most popular social networking site. It's got over 2.9 billion monthly active users! Over-65s are the fastest growing group. And women between 45 and 64 are the most likely to interact with Facebook ads. Users share updates, photos and links with their 'friends'. They get updates from friends and any brands they 'like'.

    Create a free Facebook Business Page to connect with customers and offer key information about your organisation, products, services and upcoming events. Paid-for services include targeted Facebook Ads.

  • People use LinkedIn for professional networking. It has over 830 million users. Users connect with contacts, search for roles and advertise jobs. LinkedIn also has groups, where members with similar interests can take part in discussions and get support.

  • X is very popular with over 340 million users worldwide. It tends to attract younger users. Almost 40% of its members are in the 25-34 age group.

    Users share short (280 character) messages with their followers. They see a stream of messages written by people and organisations they follow. Hashtags (#) mark key words or phrases in popular or 'trending' conversations.

  • Instagram has over 2 billion monthly active users, so it's a great way to connect with new and existing customers.

    Over half the users are female, and about a third fall within the 25-34 age group. This photo and video sharing network is an ideal place to build your brand and showcase your products through images.

  • This video sharing app is popular with younger audiences. It has over 1 billion monthly active users, mostly in the 18-24 age group. People use TikTok to view, share and post short, light-hearted videos. It's a bit like Instagram but using videos rather than images to promote your services and products.

Before you decide

Think about your brand, your service or product and how you could use the social media’s strengths to your benefit.


Look at other organisations’ social media pages:

  • What is their approach?
  • What content do they share?
  • How often do they post?
  • How professional do they look?


Having looked at these sites, you might decide to use different sites for different things. Maybe you want to talk to your customers through Facebook Messenger and use Instagram or TikTok to showcase your products.

Whichever site you select, here are a few tips. Post regularly and keep your posts consistent. Make the most of their built-in features. No matter where your users connect with you, they should see the best version of your organisation, your brand and your customer service.


Social media apps have updates that often add more features. So it’s a good idea to keep your apps updated to make the most of these.

Test your knowledge

Answer this question by selecting one answer from the three options provided.

That's not quite right!

While you can share images on all of these sites, there is one that specialises in this type of content.

That's right!

Instagram is well-known and used for sharing photos and other images.

Chapter 3

Top tips for posts and content

Read time:

2 mins

What will engage your followers?

Start the conversation!

Share content that is useful, entertaining, informative and newsworthy. Always think about your core aims and values, and make sure your posts and any shared content include these.


Consider sharing the following:

  • Images and videos of your products and services
  • Blog posts from your company blog (a blog is an online chat started by you which others can join. This may be on social media or on your website)
  • Details of companies and people you work with
  • Relevant posts from your partners
  • News articles about your organisation/sector
  • Videos of events like awards and supporting local charities
  • Photos of the people who work or volunteer with you


How quickly will you reply to queries or complaints?

It’s always best to decide what your response time will be. This might be different on each site. Within 24 hours is a good aim. You may need to think about volume of traffic. It’s good to set expectations early on. These sites often let you set up automatic messages. So, your customers know how long they are likely to wait for a response.


Develop a way of talking that’s right for social media

Avoid unprofessional remarks or sharing content that may be divisive. You’re likely to get a better response from your users if you’re not too directly promotional or formal. Avoid sales pitches. Focus on connecting with your followers. If you’re not a personal social media user, there are some useful links to read at the end of this lesson.


Tools to help

Keeping your social media up to date is important but you might end up spending a lot of time on it. Luckily, there are some great tools to help you. You can use tools such as Buffer, Hootsuite and SproutSocial, to schedule social media updates so you can always stay on top of your socials.


They’ll help you to:

  • Set alerts when someone Tweets you or writes on your Facebook wall
  • Schedule and test social media updates during the best times to post

Chapter 4

Using social media securely

Read time:

1 min

Security policies

Think about adding social media to your IT security policy. This will help your team to use it responsibly. Making sure your team are on top of this can reduce the chances of someone hacking into your accounts or stealing valuable information. You might want to include an acceptable use policy in employment contracts or a colleague handbook.


Your policies should include things like:

  • Keeping passwords safe
  • Device safety
  • Using unsecured networks such as public Wi-Fi


Avoiding fraud

If you’d like to learn more about online fraud, there are some useful lessons on our website. These include the online risks that you may face using social media.


Check out the following topics on our website:

Keep your business safe and secure

Chapter 5

Next steps

Read time:

1 min

Some next steps to get you started:

  • Research the social media networks and select which one/s you want to set up
  • Test your approach in your team - get used to it in a safe space first
  • Plan regular content uploads and get your customers involved
  • See what works well for other companies


If you want to find out more, here are a few useful links:

X for business

Pinterest for business

LinkedIn for business

Instagram for business

TikTok for business


Facebook also provides more information for businesses and organisations:

Facebook for business

Facebook marketing

Facebook education


Bank of Scotland Academy is committed to providing information in a way that is accessible and useful for our users. This information, however, is not in any way intended to amount to authority or advice on which reliance should be placed. You should seek professional advice as appropriate and required. Any sites, products or services named in this module are just examples of what's available. Bank of Scotland does not endorse the services they provide. The information in this module was last updated on 22nd August 2023.