Social media is no longer just a ‘thing’ – it’s a lifestyle. As it continues to evolve and offer new functionality, we are now not only sharing our thoughts and lives, we are buying products and connecting with brands too. Fascinating yet terribly addictive, social media offers more than something to look at when you’re bored: it’s a business tool. And one that budding entrepreneurs must use to their advantage. If you are looking blankly ahead wondering where to start with your social media strategy, here are 7 simple secrets that will set you on the road to success and engagement.
Over-promotion is as bad as under-promotion
Many entrepreneurs feel that they are bad at marketing themselves and their work, or they don’t feel good about doing it. We are all prone to imposter syndrome now and again. Naturally, you don’t want to fall into the trap of under-promoting yourself: after all, people need to know you exist. To succeed as an entrepreneur, you MUST believe in the value of what you do. And you must be willing to talk about it. If you’re concerned that you don’t do enough to promote your work, then it’s probably true.
However, be wary of the flip side that is over-promotion. Social media is all about balance. It’s not all just promoting work, it’s also making friends and building your network of contacts. Remember the ‘social’ aspect and don’t just talk about yourself.
You’ve got to make it meaningful
Social media is the place to provide useful content – not a hard sell. On platforms like Facebook and Twitter, the hard sell is one of the quickest ways to ensure that your audience’s eyes glaze over and carry on scrolling. We no longer like being ‘sold to’. We want genuinely interesting, useful or entertaining content instead. And if you don’t provide it, someone else will.
So if you own a company that sells health products, why not share content around healthy recipes, fitness tips and the best apps for good nutrition? Or if you create beautiful products for weddings, look at what other types of wedding-related content you can promote. Remember it’s not about you – it’s about your followers and what will resonate with them.
Focus on the right platforms for your business
Here’s the thing: not all social media platforms are equal. You may get results using Facebook that you would never get using Snapchat, and vice versa. It all depends what industry you’re in and who your audience is. Every platform draws in a different type of potential customer. Create a clear communication strategy for your business from the outset and define who your audience is – and where they hang out online.
Finding the right social platforms for your business is like finding the perfect dress: some will fit and totally suit you, and others just won’t. For example, Instagram does particularly well for retail, wedding and travel brands, with its focus on gorgeous, inspiring imagery. But if you’re more about the written word and networking with influencers, you’ll do better on Facebook or LinkedIn.
It’s all about quality
Quality and quantity are both important on social media, but if you have to pick one, choose quality every time. People will soon notice if you are posting lots of spammy/boring/self-promotional content every day. This applies to your followers as well. It is far more valuable to have 1,000 followers who actively engage with you and regularly read and share your content, than it is to have 10,000 who you never hear from again. Nurture your relationships and reward your loyal followers, because they will ultimately become your brand ambassadors.
Sometimes you have to close your mouth and listen
Listening is an important but underrated skill, particularly on social media. Too many people (and businesses) spend too much of their time on social media talking – mostly about themselves. Imagine being at a party with someone who does this. It’s tiresome, and just as tiresome in the digital world as it is in the physical one.
Spend more time focused on listening to what your customers are saying and responding. You can gather useful feedback this way! Think of social media like a continual focus group for gauging how your audience responds to what you offer, and use it to direct your business strategy.
Plan a content strategy
With a good content strategy, you will never be short of interesting things to share on social media and engage your audience. An effective content strategy takes into account what customers what to know and read about, and provides that information on a regular basis. They say that ‘content is king’ and in the world of social media, it’s true.
Great content is relevant, engaging and well-presented. Think about what you would choose to share yourself, if you came across it on one of your social networks. This is a chance to tell your brand story and express your knowledge – not just to promote your wares.
The following websites do a great job with their content marketing:
Aimed at business owners, Leadpages has a dedicated marketing resources page where its readers can download free courses to improve their business growth strategies. Offering this kind of value to readers without any monetary incentive is guaranteed to built trust and grow brand recognition.
Ecommerce platform Shopify offers blogs, guides, case studies, tutorials and videos across all kinds of subjects that its store owner audience will be interested in. ‘Free business lessons’, as they label them, are just the thing that hungry entrepreneurs are looking for, and it’s what draws visitors back to Shopify’s website time after time.
Jing Tea is a beautiful ecommerce website that sells (you guessed it) tea. It’s ‘learn’ section offers plenty of well-written, useful content for tea enthusiasts, from the ‘Golden Rules of Tea Making’ to ‘How to Create a Tea Menu’ and a documented trip to some Chinese tea gardens. Aimed very much at tea connoisseurs, Jing Tea does a great job of creating interesting, sharable content around a very niche subject.
Post automation can save time and reduce stress
One thing is for sure: all that time writing and posting on social media can be time-consuming. So if you’re going to be making a habit of it, it’s certainly worth using a social scheduling tool like Hootsuite or Sproutsocial. Not only does it allow you to schedule all your posts in one go, but you can also get up-to-the-minute reporting on how well those posts are doing. You will save considerable time if you spent one hour a week carefully planning and scheduling your updates, than if you always rely on doing them on the fly.
Keep an eye on your impressions, engagement and clicks to see which updates are generating the most interest and driving the most traffic to your website.
Most importantly, remember that you can’t expect others to share and talk about your content if you do not respond in kind. Remember to embrace the ‘social’ element of social media and engage with your readers on a personal level. Sometimes as an entrepreneur you have limited time and resources, so finding ways to reduce your time spent (while still getting results) is key. Want to know more? Here’s How to Build a Powerful Social Media Marketing Campaign That Drives Results.