I remember when I was a kid (not that long ago), I used to have a paper route. It started at around 40 customers and then grew to about 110 at the end of my first Entrepreneurial journey.
Wednesday was the best day of the week for delivering papers (they were the thinnest on that day) and Sunday was the worst (how I came out of it without a back problem, I don’t know).
But the newspaper was the way we all grew up learning about what was going on in the world (the good and the bad) and how to stay informed. The newspaper was how we found out, through advertising, who we were going to give our business to because of the ad copy we would read.
But now, things have really changed. It’s a very different world and in the small business realm, we need to have a very different plan for how to promote our business and inform people of how our business can help them resolve the problem they have.
Like it or not, the modern social media is here to stay and one way or another, we have to adjust and embrace the fact that we can learn it and use it to our advantage.
It takes time, but, it’s certainly doable. Let’s look at some statistics on what we’re dealing with for some of the more popular platforms.
Facebook currently has over 2 billion daily active users. YouTube has almost 2 billion active users. Instagram has 1 billion. Twitter has approximately 330 million, LinkedIn has 303 million, and Pinterest has 250 million.
Your customers and potential customers are DEFINITELY on at least one, if not more of these social media platforms. With such a staggering number of people using social media every single day, it is one of the most POWERFUL ways to grow your business.
Social media platforms allow you to attract new customers and connect with audiences that you never would otherwise. And if your business isn’t location dependent, you can reach customers thousands of miles away through social media. And you can establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry.
Many business owners think that if they simply start posting on social media, they’ll be successful and attract new customers. But it doesn’t work this way. In order to build your business through social media, it’s essential to have a strategy for engaging with your audience.
It’s not enough to post across a variety of social media networks. Without a definitive plan for how you’re going to use social media, you probably won’t get the results that you want.
Choose Your Platforms
Instead of trying to post on every social media platform out there, focus on the one or two that will have the most impact on your business.
In order to do this, you need to know your audience.
Where do they spend most of their time when it comes to social media?
Where do they like to interact with brands and businesses?
What sites influence them to purchase?
Who are the biggest influencers in your space and what platforms do they use?
Be where your audience is. Publish most of your content on the social media site where your audience hangs out the most. After all, you want your audience to interact with your content.
If you don’t know where your audience spends most of their social media time, simply ask them! Send out an email to your list and ask them to tell you what social media platforms they use the most. Create a poll on several different social media sites and ask your followers to respond.
Another great way to determine where your audience spends their time is to look at the content you’ve already posted on social media and see what has gotten the biggest response.
One other thing to consider when choosing your social media platform is what you’re selling. Depending on the products or services you sell, one platform may be more effective than another.
As you consider which platform(s) to use, it’s essential that you think smaller rather than bigger. In other words, you don’t want to spread yourself too thin across multiple social media platforms.
It would be better to focus on and master one or two platforms than to try to constantly post on ten different ones. You will get better results if you give 100% of your energy to a few platforms instead of 25% of your energies to a bunch of different platforms.
At the end of the day, what matters most is not the particular platform you choose but rather that you choose one and stick with it. When it comes to social media, consistency is almost always the most effective way to win an audience.
Optimize Your Social Media Profile
Make your profile as informative and attractive as possible. You want your profile to draw people in, not push them away. So how do you optimize your profile? Here are some specific recommendations.
Select a professional username. Ideally, you want your username to be either your name or the name of your company. In other words, you don’t want to create a username like TulipGirl997. This comes across as unprofessional and won’t set you up for success.
Use a high-quality profile photo. Whether you’re uploading a picture of yourself or your logo, you want to use a high-quality photo. Ideally, the photo will have been professionally taken or the logo professionally designed.
Write a compelling “About” section. Your About section is where you tell the story of your business. It’s where you communicate what you’re all about and what matters most to you. You want your About section to be both compelling and concise. What is it that you do that sets you apart from everyone else?
Upload a professional cover photo. Almost every social media platform allows you to upload a cover photo. The cover photo spans the top of your social media profile and sits behind your profile photo. Like your profile photo, you want your cover photo to be as professional as possible.
Enter all your contact information. Remember, you’re trying to grow your business using social media. This means you want to make it as easy as possible for potential customers to contact you. In the contact section, include as many possible ways to contact you as possible.
As you optimize your overall profile, think about how you want to represent yourself and your business online. Your social media profile will be the first touch point for some potential clients, and it’s critical that your profile feel professional.
Create A Posting Schedule
Once you’ve optimized your social media profile, it’s time to map out how often you’ll be posting, as well as what you’ll be posting.
Consider creating a social media calendar in which you map out what you will post each day during a given time period (week, month, year). This calendar will include what you’re going to post, as well as when you’ll post it. When creating your social media calendar, ask yourself the following questions:
Two reasons why you should utilize a social media calendar:
○ First, it helps you be consistent with your posting. One of the biggest challenges that business owners face when using social media is being consistent.
○ Second, using a social media calendar “forces” you to be active on social media. In other words, you can’t use the excuse of not knowing what to post.
Begin Posting On Social Media
Once you’ve created your social media content calendar, it’s time to begin posting on social media. If you want to win new clients and satisfy your existing ones, consistently post things that will add value to your audience.
You’re not just posting to post. Rather you’re trying to provide your audience with high-value information that will help them live their best life possible. Every post should be helpful in some way to your audience.
Your posts should help your audience:
○ Think about something in a new way
○ Take action like they never have
○ Laugh or smile
○ Learn something valuable
Consider posting things like:
○ Inspirational quotes
○ Tips and tactics
○ Tutorial videos
○ Live videos
○ Pictures that will motivate your audience
When creating your content calendar and posting on social media, constantly ask yourself the following question: Is this adding value to my audience? If it is, then post it. If you don’t think it will add much value to your audience, then don’t post it.
If you’re not sure which types of content add the most value to your audience, try experimenting with different formats. You might find that videos perform better than photos, or that your audience really likes tutorials and tips.
You may be thinking, I don’t have time to constantly be posting! Using a tool like Buffer or Hootsuite, you can actually schedule weeks, or even months, of posts in advance.
Engage With Your Followers
The real power of social media is that it creates conversations between you and your followers. At least, it should create conversations. Conversations are the key to getting more clients through social media.
It’s important to regularly, consistently engage with your followers. Respond to comments, answer questions, solve problems, and more.
If you want to build relationships and gain clients through social media, you need to be having conversations, not just publishing new content. You want to authentically engage with your followers. Authenticity is attractive. It will attract new followers and turn them into new clients.
Another reason to engage with followers is that social media platforms tend to prioritize the posts with the most engagement. The posts with the most likes, comments, shares, and overall engagement get shown more frequently than those posts with very little engagement.
What are some ways that you can create conversations with your followers?
○ Ask questions.
○ Do live videos in which you talk directly with your audience.
○ Conduct polls.
○ Ask people to comment on a particular subject.
○ Make statements that will get people talking (just be careful about being too controversial).
Focus on being as real and authentic as possible on social media and you’re guaranteed to create conversations with your followers.
Follow The Right People
Consider following influencers in your industry. For example, if you’re a financial adviser, follow other financial advisers in your industry. If you’re a life coach, try to connect with other life coaches.
Once you’ve started following them, interact with the material they share online. Comment on it, repost it, and share it with your own followers. Try to develop relationships and simply be part of the conversation that’s happening.
Additionally, consider being part of groups that are related to your industry. Both Facebook and LinkedIn have robust group features, and there are literally millions of groups about every subject imaginable. When you join a group, focus on adding value, not promoting yourself.
As you follow influencers in your industry and take part in groups, take note of the valuable information that others are sharing. What sorts of posts do others share that resonate deeply with you? This is the kind of content that you want to be sharing with your audience.
In addition to joining online groups, there are also several platforms that focus heavily on answering questions that are posed by users. For example, Quora lets any user post a question and then other users try to answer that question.
Hashtags are words with the “#” symbol before them. For example, #MondayMotivation or #CrossfitLife. Hashtags are used as a way of grouping posts by subject. If you add a hashtag to a post, it will be grouped with all the other posts people have made using that hashtag.
If you see a post with a hashtag, you can click on that hashtag and see all the other posts with the same hashtag. Some sites, such as Twitter, highlight the most popular hashtags, giving you a sense of what’s trending at any given time. You can also follow hashtags to regularly see posts with a given hashtag.
The power of hashtags is that they allow you to get your content in front of a broader audience. By adding the appropriate hashtags, you can get them seen by thousands, if not millions, of people.
How exactly do you use hashtags? Typically, it works like this. You create a social media post. At the end of the post, you add a hashtag that is somehow related to the post.
○ For example: Before you do any Crossfit workout, spend at least ten minutes getting warmed up and stretched out. #Crossfit #CrossfitLife #CrossfitWorkout
○ One thing to be careful about. If your hashtags aren’t really related to the content of your post, there’s a chance you could turn people away from you. As much as possible, keep your hashtags closely related to the content you’re posting.
If you truly want to succeed on social media, you’ll need to experiment to see what works best. Different types of content will resonate with your audience. You may find that videos work really well while inspirational quotes don’t perform as well.
Experimentation is especially critical since social media platforms are constantly changing. Currently, Facebook gives preference to posts that keep people on their site, such as videos. But this could change. In the future, Facebook may give preference to some other type of content.
Be constantly testing to see what works most effectively. You’ll discover what adds the most value to your audience. Then, you can post more of this type of content to generate significantly more engagement. It ends up being a virtuous cycle that helps you connect with more and more people on social media.
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