You put in the leg work, executed a business plan and, today, your small business is finally opening its doors. Congratulations! Let’s pretend you’re the owner of a hip new café. The coffee is brewing, the bagels are baking, and you’re ready for your first customer. You hastily posted a few cute coffee photos on Instagram last week, but didn’t quite get the reaction you hoped for. You know how important social media marketing is for small businesses, but you’re not sure where to start – or how.
Owning a business is an all-consuming role. From finance to operations, inventory, staffing, marketing and, now, social media, you wear many hats as a busy barista. But even the busiest business owners can dominate the social domain. Wondering where to start? Here are five tips that will help you create a buzz on social media.
Embrace One Platform at a Time
With so many social media platforms available, you may think you need to have a presence on all of them. Keeping up with multiple accounts can quickly become a struggle. Your content will suffer, your audience will be dispersed, and your social efforts will soon turn into a full-time job.
Instead, select one platform to start with that best lends itself to your content. As a coffee shop (to continue this example), you’re likely to have dozens of drool-worthy pictures to share. A visual platform such as Instagram or Facebook, which prioritizes photographs, will showcase your content at its best.
On the contrary, if you own a service-based business like an accounting practice, it may be difficult to capture your business in a photograph. Instead, your content will focus on text-based posts such as money-saving tips and investment advice. Your content will perform best on platforms that emphasize written posts. Think LinkedIn or Twitter.
With a narrow focus on a single social space, you can optimize your content for that one platform. This is a great way to get your feet wet and learn the ropes if you’re new to social media.
Publish Purposeful Content for Your Customers
Regardless of which social platform you’re using for your business, focus on publishing purposeful posts. When your café perks up, you may not have time to post as often as you like. Instead of hastily uploading a photo of your nifty new espresso machine because you haven’t posted in a while, wait.
When your day (or week) slows down, pull up that photo. Think about the different ways you can position this picture to bring benefit to your audience. Consider the new beverages you’ll be brewing with this equipment. Which new drinks have you added to your menu? Which treats will pair well with an espresso beverage? What are the hours of your business? When can customers swing by for a treat?
Don’t feel pressured to post on social media just to keep up. Instead, put thought into your posts so they showcase the benefits of your business and bring value to your audience. This is key to converting your followers into customers.
Dedicate Time to Planning Your Posts
Setting aside time in your busy schedule for social media can prevent the task from slipping your mind. In the same way that you plan time for payroll and inventory orders, set aside an hour or two each week for social media. Having a dedicated time in your calendar for this task will save you from scrambling during the week.
Use your planning time to take photos, film short video clips, and write your social captions. Remember to keep the customer in mind and focus on creating valuable posts. Planning your content ahead of time will enable you to strategize for upcoming promotions and events. Consider holidays and other dates on the calendar that you can tie into your strategy. Are you hosting any promotions for Valentine’s Day or to kick off summer? Will you be launching a new brew next week?
As you plan your social media posts, think one step ahead. Purposeful posts are not only those that resonate with buyers but are also timely and relevant.
Create a Connection with Consumers
Your business wasn’t built overnight, and neither will your social media following. It will take time to build an authentic audience online.
As an online consumer yourself, think about how much branded content you see each day. It takes a while for users to notice a brand and then trust them. You likely need to see content several times before you invest any time or money into it. The same will be true for your own audience. Being consistent and thoughtful with your content will help your brand remain relevant.
You can help to cultivate a community by engaging with your customers. When they comment on your social content, be sure you reply back. It only takes a minute or two to thank each user for their feedback, or answer their questions. You can ask them thought-provoking questions in return to help build your business. Use social media to ask your café’s customers which sweet treat you should serve up next. Would they prefer a jelly-filled doughnut with their java or a succulent scone?
Social media is a two-way street. You can’t bombard users with content and expect them to be on board. The most successful businesses on social media – even small ones – are the brands that connect with their consumers individually.
Remember It’s Never Too Late to Start
If you’re new to the world of social media, you may have been delaying the task. One of the best ways to learn is by doing. Remember to start small with just one platform. Setting aside regular time to plan your content will also make the task a habit, and ensure you don’t abandon your efforts.
New businesses are launching accounts every day online. It’s not too late for you to jump on board. In today’s internet-driven marketplace, you can’t afford to not tap into the potential offered by free social media tools. Remember, every day that you delay your social media launch is a day that your competitors are connecting with your customers instead. With effort and engagement, soon your small business will be serving up success on social media too.
Michelle Novielli | Contributing Writer