Welcome to the Optimize Your Social Media series. If you're using social media to market your business (and you should be), you may wonder if you are doing all you can to get the most impact.
The most common phrase, in reference to social media marketing, I hear from brick and mortar business owners is: "How do I start?" This series gives you an outline of actionable steps that you can put into practice immediately. That's right - you can get started right now!
Follow these simple steps, and you'll gain more organic reach.
DEFINITION: SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING
A form of marketing done on social media platforms. The goal is to create valuable content that your audience will like and share. This powerful form of marketing can increase exposure for your brick and mortar business exponentially.
Create business accounts on all social platforms you engage on. Using business accounts is professional. That alone should be a good enough reason, (you are professional aren't you?) but if you need another; business accounts come with analytics. You can't improve what you don't measure.
Analytics provides the data we need to know what's working and what's not. A third reason to create a business account is; using personal accounts to conduct business is against the rules (at least on Facebook). In fact, here's a quote straight out of the Facebook help center:
"It's against the Facebook Terms to use your personal account to represent something other than yourself (example: your business), and you could permanently lose access to your account if you don't convert it to a Page." - Facebook
This doesn't mean you need to build a wall between the two accounts. It helps to post about your business on your personal page from time to time. And, endearing yourself to potential new customers by sharing some personal information goes a long way to build the "know, like, and trust factor."
What it does mean is that any business transaction, or call to action you want to promote on behalf of your business, goes on your business page. You can share posts from your business page to your personal page, and you can let the people following you on your personal page know you have a special going on over on your business page. Just don't try to sell and promote your offers on your personal page and you won't risk losing your account.
Randomly posting on social media may gain a few followers here and there, but it won't give you the kind of results you want. You've got to have a strategy in place so you can post with purpose.
A solid strategy begins with the end in mind. What is your goal? If you have more than one, what are you focusing on during each quarter/month/week?
Your goals are your guiding lights. Everything you do should support achieving them. Whether you are increasing visibility for your brand, increasing leads, or increasing sales you need to know the target you are shooting for and figure out how you're going to get there.
Social media is a powerful tool that can support each of the goals listed above. You're able to reach thousands, if not millions of people online. Those people are potential leads, and potential leads are potential sales. So, set your goals and work backward from there:
Divide the number of leads or sales that represents your goal by the days, weeks, or months you have, and that will tell you how many you need.
So, now you have an idea of what you need to do to meet your goal. Using a marketing calendar fill in all tasks you have to get done.
Using a calendar gives you a visual of what your activities for each week will be.Those activities give you an idea of the topics you can use to promote products and services that you will be selling.
You can't post promotional posts only though, or you come off as a spammer. Your posts should be a mix of value, promotional, personal, and inspirational. Your goal is to attract your clients not repel them.
You work hard. You likely have some great products and services that you are proud of, and you want nothing more than to let the world know all about them - right?
Not so fast!
Adding value means adding value for your audience. The biggest mistake business owners make, is touting what they think their "best thing" is without first identifying whether or not it's something their audience wants.
A deep understanding of your ideal client/customer is a must. You're simply unable to provide value to them without knowing them very well. What is their biggest frustration? If you asked them what the one issue is that they most help solving what would they say? By speaking to the needs of your audience in your content (blog posts, social media posts, newsletters, emails, etc.) you are giving them the value they want and need.
You want to make sure they know that you understand them and what their needs are. If your "best thing" solves this then tout away, but do it in the frame of mind of the customer - not you.
This means you don't go off about how amazing you or your team is that developed this product/service. Nor do you tout how great the product is. Saying a product or service is great doesn't convey anything to your audience. Your customers want to know how your product/service will solve their problem - period.
Educational posts are an excellent way to show your audience that you understand what their needs are and that you are an expert on the subject you're highlighting. Identify the most common issues your product/service solves and list them out, then, create posts addressing them. Educate your audience on what their options are, what best practices are, how they can start on their journey to resolving their problem.
In Tip 3, I discussed the importance of knowing your audience. That is just as important as knowing your niche. Your messaging needs to be focused in on the one thing you do the best. What is that one thing? Even if you sell many products, what is the common denominator? Do you provide convenience for your customers? Strategy? Marketing? Nutrition? Health? Identify the one thing and focus on that in your messaging.
If you try to do "all the things" you won't be doing yourself or others any favors. (Remember that old saying "Jack of all trades, master of none?") You want to reach the right audience, and you need to speak to their needs (the needs your product or service helps them resolve.) If you come at that arms wide open and offering the world, you're going to have a muddled message and a confused audience.
Think of it this way; if you stand on a busy street corner and rattle off all of the things you "could" do people will not be drawn in, and they may think you're a bit wacky (standing on the street corner part aside.) Here's an example:
"Hello, Everyone! I can help you with nutrition, pet-sitting, business strategy, cooking, speaking and training to run marathons. Everything's 50% off for the next three hours!"
Conversely, if you stand on a street corner with a focused message, people looking for a solution to the problem you solve will be more likely to be drawn in. Like this:
"Hello, Everyone! I'm opening up ten slots in my program that helps business owners crush debt and become profitable! So far, sixty business owners love their businesses and their lives because they are debt free and profitable."
Now, THAT will draw people in. Not just any people - the RIGHT people.You need to identify the one thing you do and speak to that in your messaging. The more you do, the clearer your messaging will be, and the more of the right people you'll attract.
Being consistent in your message is one thing, but if you only share it once in a blue moon, you won't see the results you will if you share consistently and often.
How often is often enough? You're not gonna like this answer: It depends. 🙂
It depends on the size of your audience, the type of business you're in, and the social media platform you're using.
If you have an audience of less than ten thousand, posting one to two times a day on Facebook and LinkedIn is a good rule of thumb (in my opinion) to keep you in the news feed of your audience without becoming annoying. For audiences above ten thousand, you can post more often because the people reached will be different with each post. (Meaning, not everyone in a large audience will see every post.)
Twitter is a different beast, and you'll want to shoot for 1 - 10 times per day for an audience of under ten thousand. If you want to tweet more often that's up to you - do what makes sense. Just don't spend fifty percent of your productive hours creating tweets and tweeting, that will result in lower productivity on the things that matter most in your business.
Instagram is different still and seems to favor frequency over the number of posts per day. So, if you start posting ten times a day and you suddenly drop off to one time a day you'll notice a drop in followers and engagement.
Bottom line: Do what works for you! Your business requires your attention. Your message needs to get out to the world but not at the expense of your business or your sanity. Set a schedule and watch the analytics (analytics come with all business accounts - see Tip #1 in this series for more information) to see how well your posts are doing and tweak from there. If/when you change your posting frequency be sure to keep the new schedule for a minimum of two weeks so you can gather enough data to determine if the change is working.
Tips four and five were about consistency and consistently being consistent can wear a person out! Putting ourselves out there every day, while providing value, and running our business takes fortitude, and fortitude requires a positive mindset.
Mindset colors everything from our outlook on life and our business, to the value of our offers and the value of our clients. If you find yourself in a negative mindset, work on something that doesn't require communication to the extent possible. Copy-writing or interacting with customers are both forms of communication, put those tasks aside until your mood lifts; you don't want to transfer a bad mood to anyone else unwittingly.
Better yet, create a process to help you shake off the bad moods:
Whatever you do, change your focus to the positive. Don't let negativity take up space in your mind; it's not paying rent so evict it ASAP!
When business owners first start out using social media, it's easy to feel uncertain about every part of it. It's a new process that you're learning how to incorporate into your routine, learning new things can lead to feelings of uncertainty. Here's what you need to know:
Social media marketing is a long-game approach. It's a great example of something that will snowball with consistent action on your part. An important piece of this new routine is regularly checking your analytics to see what's working, what's not, and tweaking things until you hone in on the perfect strategy for your business. All of that takes time so don't get frustrated, and whatever you do - don't give up!
Branding is important to every business, and it's not all about your colors and logo; however, on social media, those two things help increase brand recognition. Setting up branded templates ahead of time in an image editing program such as PicMonkey or Canva saves time.
Both PicMonkey and Canva have great templates and design ideas. If you're not comfortable designing your templates, look for companies that have templates you like and use those as examples you provide to a designer.
Don't know any designers? Ask for referrals. Depending on the type of business you own you may be able to exchange services for a few templates.
Your profiles will look polished and professional if you take this simple step to set yourself up for success.
For help with writing, Grammarly and The Hemingway Editor App are life savers! Grammarly checks your writing for proper grammar and sentence structure, which is pure gold. It also has a Chrome extension that allows it to follow you around the web correcting your comments and posts (thank you grammar gods!)
The Hemingway Editor checks your writing for ease of reading, which is more important than you might think. As humans, we tend to want to show off - it's just what we do. Explaining things in sophisticated terms may make us feel good about ourselves, but it makes our writing difficult to read. We don't want that.
Once we create our posts using a posting service is a great way to shave time off our weekly social media tasks. There are several, check out Post Planner, Buffer, and HootSuite. I use Post Planner. I like it because I can easily find shareable content and load it into my calendar. Although that's not a unique feature to Post Planner, I like the user interface of that tool better than others. It all comes down to preference.
As you learn the ins and outs of the tools available to you, it will be easy to figure out what works for you and what doesn't. Take advantage of the free trials offered. Using them is the only way to know if you'll like it or not. There is one tool (not listed above) I thought I'd love, but after testing it out for 30 days, it wasn't for me. I would never have been able to determine that without taking it for a test drive.
Let's talk engagement. Social media marketing is about social first, marketing second. You never want to spam your audience with marketing and promotional messages. Your audience is made up of people, and just like you, they don't want to be sold to repeatedly; that will turn them off for good.
I recommend aiming for a nice mix of posts that incorporate the following:
No matter what you post, you need to continually monitor your social media accounts for questions, responses, and engagement. Don't post and run! Check back often to encourage participation and show you're actively participating in the conversation.
Monitoring your account is important enough to Facebook that they list your response rate on your page. If they think it's a data point worth recognizing you'd better pay attention.
To increase engagement incorporate video into your social media marketing. Video posts are the single best way to increase engagement and are rewarded by all social media platforms in the form of greater visibility. Facebook. Twitter, Instagram, and now LinkedIn are focusing on video as the primary source of shared information. The human voice conveys emotion and sincerity. You're easy to relate to when people watch you on video, flaws and all, it adds a human touch. So, don't be shy, break out your smartphone and start shooting!
Today's tip is THE most important one - Get Started!
For many brick and mortar business owners, the idea of posting on social media just doesn't sit well with them. They don't know how to start. It's overwhelming, and they don't feel comfortable sharing on the world wide web.
All of that is understandable. Everyone struggles with those things at first. It doesn't seem natural. Who would want to read what you post? Where are you going to find the right people, and how are you ever going to come up with topics to post all the time?
You already have the topics; they come from what type of business you have. What does your business do to improve your customers' lives? What questions do you get all the time? How have you helped people overcome something with your product or services (even if it's just that you provide amazing pizza at your restaurant and you quench hunger)?
Social media should be a glimpse into your business, sharing information about you, what's going on, and what solutions you provide. The previous nine tips in this series should give you a good starting point. Now, I want to give you a process layout:
Just GET STARTED! You won't be perfect in the beginning, but you have to start so you can improve.