Your favorite restaurant just posted an amazing picture and, in minutes, it has a dozen likes and comments.
How do they do that?
As a small business owner, you know your social media game could be better. However, you hate it when companies clog up your news feed with useless chatter. You value your customers too much to do the same.
Facebook, Instagram, and Pintrest are essential tools for business. However, their seemingly magical metrics and unpredictable results are a huge source of frustration to small business owners.
This is the first in a series of articles covering :
How to choose the best platforms for your business (and ignore the rest)
What goes into creating responsive content on each platform
How to use these tools to put your business in the hands of your biggest fans
Whether you are a local bakery or an online information seller, this series will show you how to create real revenue by generating relationships with the people who love your business.
Your Purpose on Social Media
You follow people with tens or hundreds of thousands of fans- but does it really generate a return?
Online marketing gurus would have you believe social media success is all about acquiring likes. However, recent studies show the “mere act of liking a brand on facebook does not affect a customer’s behavior or increase purchasing, nor does it spur purchasing by friends.” (1)
Corporations spend millions trying to increase their social media following. But you’re a small business, and you don’t have millions to spend. If you’ve ever spent money on Facebook adverts and thought it was a waste: you’re right. Standard social media practices focusing on rapid growth alone don’t have any affect on the real revenue of your business.
“Getting more followers” is the not the right focus for an entrepreneur wanting to connect with and grow their business.
Kevin Kelley revisited his 2008 article “1,000 True Fans” in Tools of Titans last year. In a world focused on quantity of followers, Kelley makes a good argument for artists and small business focusing instead on a small, dedicated following for success. The principle has been true in the businesses we’ve developed at The Milton Schoolhouse. It was 228 people who made Maeva’s Coffee possible through its first crowdfunding campaign. Furthermore, the coffee shop hosts between 1,500-2,500 visitors a week. That number is relatively small compared to our potential market, but grossed over $300k in sales in 2016.
Reframing your goal with the “1,000 true fans” mindset will change how you create content for your social media outreach.
Use your chosen platform to communicate your image in the best way possible. By creating and communicating a strong brand image, social media becomes less about selling and more about building relationships. Weak brands shout and undersell themselves to attract attention. Strong brands who communicate well have a minimal advertising budget and generate an organic connection with others. Creating long term relationships with your best customers will ultimately drive the revenue you seek.
Start Getting Social
Now that you aren’t chasing after millions of fake “likes”, here are a few ways to start creating content with the purpose of connection. These are good areas to create within no matter what platform you are using. This is not an exhaustive list. But, by creating a variety in your content you will find what your fan base values more quickly.
Content that Makes You Human
Position yourself apart from the sea of faceless corporate businesses by adding a human element to your social media. People love seeing into the lives of others. This could include environmental shots of your workspace, profiles and candid shots of staff, or insight into your morning rituals. Always keep your content related to your business, however loosely.
- Content with a Cause
If a local cause related to your business or industry arises, promote it to connect to your audience. If you feel passionately about a cause, chances are your most important customers have similar interests. Spread cause-related content with a levelhead- don’t risk harming your brand with brash or angry commentary that you may later regret. However, if a cause is strongly related to your core business principles, don’t be afraid to take a stand.
- Content with that Sets You Apart
Do you have a recipe you’ve developed exclusively for a product? Does your work support fair trade? Create content that highlights what makes your business or services one of a kind.
- Content for Aesthetics
Break the noise of sales and requests by creating content simply for the sake of making someone’s social media experience more beautiful. Environmental shots of your business or hometown, details around your workspace, or artistically created close-ups of your process all subtlely romanticise your business when offered without a pitch.
- Content that Connects
Connect your following to the most interesting content being created by suppliers, competitors, or other followers. Is your competition doing something you appreciate? Give them a shout out! Did your business’ web designer just build a revolutionary non-profit? Share it. Be the first to connect your followers with something they would love to share.
- Content that Educates
Create content with informational value. A florist might spotlight unusual varieties of roses during Valentine’s as a mix-up on a holiday classic. A holistic center might showcase a mineral a week and expound on its unique properties. Keep information short, easy to remember, and interesting. Always pair educational posts with quality copyright-free photography to encourage sharing.
When establishing a social media strategy, test a variety of posting formats, tags, and times. Collect data on your postings through an analytics app appropriate to your platform (Facebook analytics, Iconosquare, etc.).
Ready to learn more about specific ways to use each platform as part as your social media strategy? Up next: how you can start using Facebook, Instagram, and Pintrest to create real relationships with customers who love what you do and will pay you what you’re worth.
(1) "What's the Value of a Like?" Leslie K John; Daniel Mochon; Oliver Emrich; Janet Schwartz Harvard Business Review April/March ed 2017