I’ve been recommending these tips to clients for years. Social media is free. So why not utilize it? If you’re a plumber, electrician, hairstylist, baker, you should be taking advantage of all social media has to offer. No matter your business, you should be maintaining social media. Here are some basic tips for all small to medium-sized businesses.
-Start With a Plan
It becomes really easy for people to not think about what they post. A business may think “Oh, well, I have a niece or a nephew who understands social media, I’ll just have them run it.” If you want to effectively communicate through social media, you have to start with a plan. This plan includes considering what the goals and objectives are for your business. It can’t just be “I want to make a million dollars,” because well, duh don’t we all? Let’s think about where your business social media is at currently. How many followers do you currently have? Or are we starting from scratch? A business needs a concept. Do a mini-audit to figure out where the hell you are. This doesn’t mean that your business is bad at what it does. It just means how can we reach success from where we are now.
If you already have existing social media accounts, are they uniform? Is the buyer the same? Are you sending people from the link in your Instagram bio to your website, or to another social media platform? Make sure you aren’t leading them in circles by linking only to your other social media accounts. Make a calendar and start scheduling. How many pieces of content do you want in a week and in a month? Once the schedule has been made, you need to monitor your posts. You have to put a mechanism in place to interpret (or at least gather) your social media data. There are dozens of different online tools that you can use. Some are free and some have a cost, but it’s important to find which one works best for your business.
-What platforms are right for you?
There’s a wide range of social to work with from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, etc. My agency has enough strategy for using each platform.
For our Instagram, it’s a no-brainer. We need to show the cool stuff that we do. We need to understand that we can’t get too wordy on Instagram. We want to constantly give our clients a kind of behind-the-scenes look. We want to showcase our process, our successes, all of which are in a simplified Instagram-friendly format.
Facebook is home to long-form content. We transition all of our blog posts here, as well as include links to our YouTube videos. There’s a longer attention span for Facebook, so longer-form content can work well here.
Twitter is all about engagements. YouTube, for me personally, is more like a library. Content placed there should be able to be accessed even passively over time. Snapchat for me has always been a time investment that I don’t have. For small businesses, it’s harder to get a Snapchat with a big enough following to be successful. Pinterest could be a really interesting place to try something new, but the content provided has to be visually engaging enough to get ‘pinned’.
If you don’t have the bandwidth to do all the platforms, pick the most important for your company.
For example, you might be a business dedicated to business setup and contracts. For you, LinkedIn is probably the way to go. Instagram would definitely not be a good fit for that style of a business. So be objective about your choice.
-Who Is Your Buyer?
Where do they hang out? What are their attributes? What are they interested in? A simplified version could include age, gender, demographic, etc. The key component to recognize is who are the people that you’re trying to talk to and what is the number one pain point. Ak yourself, “What problem do you solve for these people?”
For my agency, we reach for people who want more sales, need more visibility, and/or need better communication. We aren’t necessarily trying to obtain new clients, but to retain our relationships consistently for our existing client base.
How do you storytell that? One of the services my agency offers includes conversion rates. We take things from X to Y. For other people, it’s a brand. It’s a look. It’s a feel. It’s a sentiment that they’re trying to create with their followers. Therefore, it has to be really visually engaging.
Do you need to run ads or are they not necessary? The most important thing to recognize is that every dollar is precious. Every. Single. Dollar. Matters. Because you have to drive an ROI.
I did a micro-test about a week ago. I spent $40 on a niche I knew nothing about, in a country that doesn’t speak my native language because I knew I needed to look objectively at the opportunity. I managed to get 17,000 real followers after, and not just because I know the game but because I asked the real questions to find them. Be very conscious about what you want to do. One of my pet peeves that we see constantly is people trying to offer value by offering free stuff. It doesn’t work. People shouldn’t even be able to recognize that you’re selling. Or when you do make a post to sell something, your followers should just be accepting of it.
Gary Vee is an outstanding example of this. He produces volumes and volumes of content for his followers to consume. And what does he ask for in return? Buy my book every two years for $20. That’s it. You get to peek behind the curtain and find knowledge that could be valuable to you.
It’s all about thinking how you sell. Don’t just say “Buy my stuff,” but let your followers enjoy the experience that comes behind that. They buy into the imagery and story that’s taking place more than they do the product. Make sure you’re always giving them that story. It doesn’t matter if you’re a dry cleaners, an optician, a plumber, there’s always a story behind what you do. Being creative is a huge part of your communications strategy.
Pace yourself and see how it goes in the beginning. Don’t start posting 6 times a day with no feedback. Try posting one time every three days, or once a day three times a week, or every day. Look at what that blueprint could be and then test your assumptions. I have a message that people will buy into, but what comes next? Let the data guide the feedback and the change. It requires both patience and consistent checking in. I’d rather a client’s social be consistent than anything else. I’d rather they post three times a week every week for a year then have these spurts of posting 20 times a week and then being too busy to post anything else for another two weeks. The algorithms don’t like it and you’ll lose followers. Which is why it’s so important to find the right frequency for your crowd. Don’t stress about receiving only a few likes and zero comments. Just keep your posting consistent. You have to be patient and have thick skin. If you can’t keep it up yourself, you have to get tools (like Hootsuite) that help make your life easier. These allow you to schedule posts and track analytics. If you do have the money for it, you can hire someone as well to cover your social for you. Get someone who can produce the most work.
Even though I don’t personally post all of my Instagram content, I like to acknowledge every comment I receive. This builds more trust between you and your followers. You’re building a community. Give them a digital handshake or high-five. Do what you can when it comes to responding. If you only receive a few comments, answer them all. If you have massive amounts of replies to your post, you can be more choosy. It’s a fine line. You need to find and follow inspiration which can be tricky. Execute on what you discover.