If you Google “10 Tips for Small Biz Social Media” you’ll find a ton of articles. Literally tons! Most of them will have great ideas, and you should review some of them to see if there’s anything actionable you can use for your own business. In this article, I’m going to try to give you brass tacks information that you can take and directly apply to what you’re doing for your business.
Preparing to be ready
A lot of social media tip articles want you to think about where to start first. That’s a good idea. But I also believe that you need to think about the type of content you will produce. Also, you need to think about what you might already have.
I recently moderated a panel about social media use for nonprofits for The IMPACT Funding Symposium. My friend, Bridgette Willard, was one of the panelists who showed up (she’s awesome by the way) and dished out some advice on this point.
- Think about your voice. Are you going to be playful? Professional? Whatever voice you project to the world be authentic. Meaning that you don’t have to worry about perfect sound or lighting. Just be yourself and show up and show off what you’re doing.
- What marketing materials do you have? You may have no marketing materials, and that’s okay. But maybe your business creates flyers or mailers that you send out. Those mailers and brochures are just teeming with content that you can use on social or your website.
- Think about how you can use the work you do for posting to social. Do you do things that would be good to stream on video? Do you do something visually compelling that you can snap photos of? Brainstorm here and list out what you do that you could take note of and repurpose. Yes, repurpose. We’ll talk more about that.
Where to begin
Facebook: I believe you don’t need to be everywhere on social media. I think you only need to pick a few choice networks that you can commit to. My opinion is that Facebook is a good start. Everyone’s on it; your grandparents are on it. It’s okay to promote from your personal page—you’ll probably get more traction there to start off anyway. Set up a business page, too.
Facebook is an easy, low-hanging, fruit. Where do we go beyond that? It depends on. If you like to write, blogging could be a great platform (and an essential one) to target. If you are more visual in what you do, then Instagram or Pinterest are solid options. If you’re out in the field doing things all day with your hands (or your face???) then maybe consider live streaming your work on Snapchat, Instagram, or FB live.
Blogging is an important part of social. Are you someone who enjoys writing? Can you commit to blogging regularly? If you can write a good article once in a while, if not once or more per week, that’s a great start. Blogging, I admit, is the “long play.” That is, it takes a while for a blog to take traction and start earning your business relevant attention.
Instagram is an excellent social—and also video—sharing platform. It’s easy to use and sleek, which makes using it pleasant. Unlike Twitter, where it can be simpler to engage a community and build your audience, Instagram, I’ve found, is tougher to cultivate. Your effective use of hashtags will no doubt be your avenue to gaining more traction. Just be authentic and be consistent. Also, don’t skimp on captions. I never use them (at least not for my personal account), context is your viceroy.
Also, I heard an interesting article on NPR the other day about a Bloomberg writer who describes how he became an Instagram influencer: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2016-11-30/confessions-of-an-instagram-influencer — Definitely worth the read.
Twitter is great, if you’re willing to engage personally with the online community. Auto-sharing stuff is sooooo over—even though people still do it all the time—it’s easy to get lost in the share vomit. This is why it’s important to find like-minded Twitter users, engage them, talk to them, ask them questions. You know, like real people do in real life. Twitter is great for blogs, but really, it’s great to share what you’re doing and more importantly to engage with and share content among those you are following.
Live streaming is huge right now. Snapchat leads the way with their gone-in-24hr content. However, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram have all adopted video streaming and posting capabilities to keep pace. You should be using this medium, too. There’s an online store called GRRL Clothing, and they use social media super well. They have a story to tell: Helping women and girls overcome problems with self-esteem. They create challenges that other users can take videos of and share to help raise awareness of these problems that many females face. It’s brilliant.
The point is that you’re possibly doing work that people will want to know about, don’t be afraid to share what you’re doing at any moment and also don’t be afraid to invite people to help you out.
Being strategic about what you do and your content and repurpose.
This goes back to being prepared at the beginning of the article. Be sure to think about how you can repurpose your content across different social platforms. Each medium helps you tell a story in a different way.
One day a week I volunteer at the Small Business Development Center where I advise small business owners on digital media and strategy. I had one client who is starting a clothing company where she makes clothes from discarded and leftover materials. She’s repurposing 100x! Not only does she does this for her product, but she also began to look at how she could take her passion and use it. Here she is on YouTube talking about her passion. And here she is on Instagram sharing style tips. This content can be reused on Pinterest, or on Facebook. And, again, it doesn’t have to be perfect. Just do the thing.
More than anything, I just want you, business owner, to take a breath. Keep it simple. Do some thinking ahead of time. Review what type of content you want to create, what you can realistically create, and where that fits into the social media outlets you choose. Remember, you don’t have to be everywhere. Just somewhere and then commit.
Remember, you don’t have to be perfect, you just have to start.