How long do you spend scrolling through your social media? It’s kind of compulsive isn’t it, maybe even a little bit addictive?
There’s so much great social content out there that we don’t want to miss anything but do we need it all? There’s also a lot of time wasting empty nonsense that will drain your emotions and empty you of creative energy.
When I started my business almost 5 years ago, I signed myself up for some local social media courses. I started with Facebook for business, progressed to Twitter, Linked In and now Instagram. I’m not a social media tutor, by any means, but I have picked up a few tips along the way which I’d love to share with you.
The biggest thing to get straight is that now you’re a business owner, social media is actual work. Think strategy not scrolling.
So get yourself a coffee, take a deep breath and let’s see how we can sizzle up your social and turn a few heads.
Before we get into the 5 things, here’s a few ground rules for business owners.
- Your social is not just an optional extra that you can take if you fancy, it’s an essential and valuable part of your digital marketing.
- Treat it completely separate from your personal social. Once you’ve set up your business pages, be aware of what you say on your personal page. People will search you out, will see what you post and quickly form an opinion of your business based on your personal posts – which may not entirely fit your brand message!
- You are a brand. Your business branding is everything you say and do. You want people to follow you, and if they do – they’ll be watching every move you make and every comment you write. Keep your branding messages clear and avoid some of the common pitfalls of the social scene.
- Keep my personal social just for actual friends, and not business colleagues. If a new business contact asks to make friends on Facebook I usually decline and invite them to like my business page. This keeps things professional.
So let’s focus on 5 ways you can improve your business social –
1 Be Yourself
Let your personality shine through and be positive.
Your followers will enjoy following you when they feel they are getting to know you, hear your story, see behind the scenes, and feel inspired.
Show yourself (yes, photographs – good quality ones, but not too many!), show your workplace, your travels and your loves. I’ve just taken part in #marchmeetthemaker, a great instagram series that helps you show your business to the world. Well the insta-world, at least.
Your followers don’t want to hear “grumpy you” complaining about your life, or a difficult customer you’re dealing with. I’ve unfollowed a number of people whose posts have just made me feel irritated. If you’re constantly ranting, people will unfollow you quickly. We all have enough of the rough stuff in our own lives without taking on other’s people’s problems too!
It’s about being real, but staying professional. The expression “people buy from people” is so true. Think of the people you enjoy following on social media. Their posts are like an open window where you can peek in and take a look at their lives – be inspired and encouraged.
My favourite follows
- My favourite Instagram follow is The World according to Harris – Harris Reid is a 2 year old wire haired miniature dachshund residing in Edinburgh who lives out his fun filled life on Instagram with 27K followers. He’s so like our Henry, who we said goodbye to last year, their personalities couldn’t be more alike. Harris and his Uncle Bracken (same breed, couple of years older) go by the motto “born to grouch” and they are both just adorable. If you follow him I guarantee you’ll fall in love with his adventures really quickly.
- I have followed Peggy Porschen – Cake Queen of Belgravia – for a few years now. She make the most beautiful cakes you have ever seen and sells them through her pink cake parlour in London. I have yet to visit but it’s top of my list of cake stops next time I’m in the big smoke.
Take the best of what you love from other social accounts, and then be yourself.
2 Be authentic
Trust is the #1 issue in our personal and business lives.
We are surrounded in our society by those who would steal and scam us in the most insidious ways. No longer do we trust corporate advertising and we often steer away from big brands. I know I would always rather buy from small local retailers who I know and trust or bigger brands that have won my loyalty through their authenticity and genuineness.
Seasalt Cornwall is one of my favourites – “Women’s clothing, accessories, footwear and Cornish inspired homeware. Designed by the sea for people everywhere”. When they opened a lovely new shop in Chester, my nearest big city, I fell headlong in love with the brand. Their social and e-mail marketing is dreamy and makes me want to buy new stuff all the time. But most of all – when you visit their stores the experience matches exactly what you’d expect from their digital marketing – their brand message is clear and enticing. Their retail spaces are colourful, inspiring and spacious, the staff and friendly and helpful and the clothes are fresh, comfortable and really well designed. There is an authenticity that runs through their marketing, their stores and their people that is attractive and makes me want to follow and to buy. Also they have a great loyalty scheme so after 5 purchases over £50, you get 20% off your next purchase. Happy Days!
As a self employed home based worker, I no longer need the smart suits I used to wear to the office, so Seasalt clothing is perfect for my new blogging life.
Hands up if you’re a sole trader? It’s a bit easier for us to be authentic, because we’re in control of all the aspects of your business (in theory). So just make sure everything lines up, and then when your customer meets you they know exactly what to expect and the trust will already be there.
3 Be responsive
When you drop a quick comment under someone’s post, there’s nothing more exciting than getting a nice response – especially if it’s a brand you love to follow. Conversely, there’s nothing more disappointing than your comment dropping into a black hole of apathy – and getting no response whatsoever.
One sure way to build up your social engagement is to check your notifications regularly and make sure you respond in some way to all the comments. Don’t underestimate the positive effect of just saying “thank you” or dropping a smiley emoji. It might even start a conversation which could lead to something amazing.
4 Be relational
If you think of social media as a platform to build relationships rather than a show window, you’re a good way along the journey.
It’s both, of course. Only this week Instagram has started product tagging on your grid. It’ll be interesting to see how that is received.
Being relational starts with being yourself and being responsive, which we’ve already covered, but it’s more about how you project yourself through posts and images.
Someone once told me I was too Daily Telegraph, and I should be more Daily Mail. Whatever! The important thing is that I sound like Judith Bond. I’ve been so blessed by so many friends and colleagues who have commented thatmy blog sounds just like my voice, and they can hear me talking through the words that I write. This isn’t something I deliberately tried to do, but I guess it’s just about emptying what’s in your head onto the page.
When you meet your customers you want them to recognise you straight away, not just because they’ve seen images of you online, but because they recognise the way you talk and immediately feel they know you and already have a relationship with you.
5 Be consistent
Consistency is key. Just think about how you relate to your best friend. If you only get in touch every few months or so, your friendship won’t last very long. Even if it does stand the test of time, it won’t be very meaningful. Friendship is about staying in touch, keeping up to date with each other’s news, knowing what’s going on and being there to support each other. You can’t do any of that with an annual Christmas card and a few texts.
It’s the same with social media. Your contacts on Facebook and Instagram are relationships that need to be nurtured. You can only do this through regular and consistent posting.
I have always been a fan of organic, on the hoof posting, but I am gradually seeing the benefits of mixing in scheduling with my organic posts. If you’re going to succeed with your social, scheduling posts is the only way you’ll keep it truly consistent and provide great content for all your followers across a range of time zones. I use Hootsuite for Facebook and Twitter, and Mosaico for Instagram.
There’s lots of advice out there on the best times of day to post, the best number of words, the best types of images – but it comes down to what works for you, your products and your customers. I find early morning and mid evening to be the most engaging time as my customers are either just waking up and checking their feeds, or they’re relaxing on the sofa with a glass of wine and their phone in hand.
If you’re on holiday or away from your desk for a few days, schedule your posts to cover that period and throw in a few holiday posts too. Long gaps of silence won’t go down well with your followers and they may lose interest.
So, by now you know that there’s more to your social and just scrolling. If you want to sizzle up your social, you need a strategy. I work in monthly slots and write up my content schedule on a wall planner and in my diary. There’s a lot to think about with different platforms and blog content too, but try and keep things as simple as you can. You can use the same content in different ways for your different platforms. This helps to reinforce your message and drive traffic to you blog or website.
Don’t be afraid to repost content a few times. You’ve spent long enough writing it – so make sure it gets a good viewing.
And finally be patient. Success does not come overnight for most people, but you will see a gradual improvement in your analytics over time if you write yourself a plan and try and stick to it.
Be yourself, be authentic, be responsive and relational, and be consistent. There’s lots of other advice we could all give each other – but let’s start with these 5 tips to sizzle up your social and see how we go.
Let me know how it goes, I’d love to hear.
And I’d love you to follow me so we can get to know each other a little better.