A recent study conducted by KISS Public Relations highlighted that 34% of businesses felt that they would like to participate more in social media but felt they lacked the time. The research, which questioned over 100 professionals recently, found that 19% of respondents felt they lacked the skills needed to engage with customers via social media.

Commenting on the findings Laura Brown, social media expert at KISS Public Relations said: "Social media holds fantastic opportunities for SMEs, and often these advantages are overlooked because of basic fears stopping companies from taking the leap.” She continued, “Social media bridges the gap between the customer and company and provides invaluable insight and feedback and helps to build a brand with little media spend and considerable impact through continual engagement. The advantages must not be overlooked.”

To help businesses manage their social media activity KISS Public Relations has developed 7 top tips for increasing success while ensuring maximum efficiency with the time restraints many are faced with:

1) Engage and interact Think of your page as an interactive platform for communities of people with the same interest. Ensure your content empowers your followers and customers through co-creation, engagement and interaction and most importantly listen!

2) You don’t have to have your own social media department! There are plenty of tricks that can reduce your time and make social media a great deal easier, for example tools and applications such asTweetDeck and HowSociable? are excellent; Simply search social media devices and take your pick!

3) Multiple platforms New channels are constantly emerging and companies need to be fully engaged with their market to anticipate which platforms they should be communicating on. By relying solely on one platform communication opportunities will be missed. What works for one company won’t necessarily work for another. Experiment; see what works for your company and connect with a variety of users and audiences on different platforms.

4) Offer incentives Your incentives should be clear to your audience, something as simple as breaking news may be enough to entice some followers; however it’s important to think outside the box. Different offers will work with different audiences, there is no right answer and may often be a case of trial and error.

5) Do not fear conversation Conversations are the real currency! Many companies fear the move to social media as there is a clear shift in power towards the consumer; perhaps they fear the risk of transparent criticism. However what many fail to grasp is these online conversations are happening whether they are present or not. Those with conflicting viewpoints are just as important as those raving about your company; good social media strategy encourages the right sort of conversations.

6) Create demand Research suggests that any word of mouth marketing is highly persuasive and therefore one of the most powerful forces in the marketplace. People can often be skeptical of what you tell them or show them; however they often believe what their friends tell them, this is where the power of social media lies. Inform people prior to a launch of new products and services to create excitement. By doing this, the demand is there before the product has even been launched.

7) Get the balance right Social media should be fun so enjoy it! Engagement should be a continual process and needs to be done with confidence, if companies try to keep too much control the strategy will struggle to work to any great success. It’s about getting the balance right between business and fun.

Follow KISS on Twitter at https://twitter.com/#!/kisstalk, and keep up-to-date with the industry social media news by following Laura at https://twitter.com/#!/KISS\_SocialM.