In a meeting last week, a client leaned in and confided: “Charlene, I can stand in front of hundreds of people and give a speech, that’s my thing, but when it comes to marketing I don’t know where to start.” Does this sound familiar? To some business owners, marketing can seem like a daunting task, even social media. There are so many things one can do! But how? When you get to it, you will realize that you need one thing to do another and before you know it you might be spiraling down a rabbit hole you don’t quite understand. On top of that, marketers LOVE their acronyms, so even when you start figuring things out, you might find yourself googling what the heck is SEO and how it’s different from SEM.
Another common symptom I’ve seen is choice paralysis, when you’re so afraid of making a mistake that you stop yourself from even starting. After all, you’re putting your brand out there for the whole world to see. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with all the choices, platforms and marketing speak.
In Spanish, we have the saying “Zapatero a su zapato”, which means a shoemaker to his shoes. In other words, stick to what you know. We all have our areas of expertise, and I am a firm believer that to succeed, you should do more of what you’re good at, and get other people to do the rest. But what if you’re a small business owner and need to take matters into your own hands?
As I developed the marketing plan for my newest client, I thought about all the small business owners that could benefit from these tactical marketing recommendations. So I decided to write down everything I know, free of charge. If you’re a small business owner with a limited budget and need to figure out the whole marketing deal on your own, you’ve come to the right place.
Today, we’re starting with social media.
Social Media Tips for Small Business Owners
You’re ready to hit the ground running on social media, so you open Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, maybe even Snapchat profiles. And didn’t someone say something about TikTok?
Now what? Managing social media platforms takes time and effort, it’s not a “set it and forget it” deal. You have to be actively posting and interacting with your community. To do it well, here are a few recommendations:
SECURE YOUR USERNAME
Why? Because you want to make sure you have the same username across the board. You might find that your exact business name isn’t available on one platform. If this happens, I recommend adapting your username on all platforms. You can add a differentiator such as location or type of business. This way, on your website, business cards, brochures, booths, etc. you’ll be able to put all your social media icons and just say @YourUsername, instead of @Username1 @ FB, @Username2 @Instagram @UsernameIDon’tKnowWhatIWasThinking @Twitter.
Just because you opened the profile doesn’t mean you have to start using it right away. With social media, it’s best to start with one platform, do that really well, and then move on to the next.
GROWING YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA FOLLOWING
Your social media channels will only be effective if you work on having a quality community. You want to have a lot of followers, of course, but you also want to make sure you have the right followers. Here are a few things you’ll want to do:
- Make it part of your pitch – Whenever you meet someone, ask them to connect on social media. If they give you their business card, add them right away. If you have client forms, consider including social media usernames to the form. Some will fill it out, some won’t, either way, you have nothing to lose.
- Put your profiles everywhere – as in, business cards, brochures, website, emails, etc. Everything and anything you produce should include your social media profiles.
- Interact! – See something that reminded you of a client? Send it to them. Use your expertise to comment on posts with well-thought-out and insightful comments. Like posts, react to Instagram stories… people post so that others interact with them, treat them like you are their biggest fan and people will feel appreciated. Most importantly, be genuine.
- Follow those that do – every industry has their gurus, those that you wish you could sit down and have a conversation with. Make a list and follow them, interact with their posts, seek out their advice.
DEVELOP YOUR OWN CONTENT
Sharing other people’s content is ok, sometimes, but it shouldn’t be everything you post. You want to present yourself as an expert in your field by sharing your own content. Think about what you usually explain to your clients, that’s a great starting point. Think about their questions, what you wish they knew. These are great topics for you to develop content. A few content options are:
- Blog posts
- Images/ Graphics
- Live Streams
- Instagram stories
- A series of tweets
DON’T BE OVERLY PROMOTIONAL
Social media is a place to provide value to your community. Don’t be afraid of posting special promotions, sales, important business happenings, etc., but don’t make it all about you. Make it about your followers and what they want to learn from you.
For some, nothing spells writers’ block faster than an empty post screen. Instead of managing all your social media posts on the go, plan ahead using a social media scheduling tool such as Buffer, where you can schedule all your social media posts on all your platforms. Shoot for one post per day on Instagram, at least 5 on Twitter and a few times per week on Facebook and LinkedIn.
LET YOUR PERSONALITY SHINE THROUGH
Have some fun! Social media is something you should enjoy doing, not a burden. Share funny videos related to your industry, be honest with your followers, don’t be afraid to make fun of yourself if that’s something you would do in real life.
Social media is an extension of who you are as a brand, make sure to let your personality shine through. Try to think of it this way, “How can I make someone smile today?” and watch those likes raking up!
I’ll continue sharing everything I know on different topics in upcoming blog posts, but please feel free to reach out if you have any questions on social or would like to discuss your strategy.