Upload photos. Hashtags. 140 characters. Tell customers about what you are doing. Utilizing social media for small business seems pretty straightforward, yes? It is, and it is a great tool to get the word out about your small business, especially if you still have a tight marketing budget. However, are you really utilizing social media to promote your small business in the most effective ways possible? Are you allowing yourself to get creative with how you are leveraging your social media presence? What are some ways to use social media that you haven’t thought of? Don’t just look at the various social media as free advertising or just another marketing tool…allow yourself and your small business to have fun with it! With pretty much every business having a social media presence on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube, it can be easy to get lost in the shuffle. The more creative and innovative you can be with your posts or uploads, the more they will stand out to your customers.
In addition to posting information regarding new products or services, why not further engage your social media followers by holding online contests or challenges? If you are a bookstore owner, challenge followers to read a new book (perhaps one on a current bestseller list or one of the classics) each month? At the end of the month, readers can post a photo of the book they read and perhaps a brief review or synopsis. If you are a music teacher, try encouraging your followers to learn a new piece of music, then upload of a video of themselves performing their newly mastered selection. Additionally, find ways to incentivize the contests by holding drawings for participants to win free products, or have all your followers vote on their favorite participant. Another key here will be consistency…every Monday, the first of every month, every other Thursday; whatever it is you decide upon, just make sure you are doing it consistently, so your social media followers know when to keep an eye out for whatever fun and exciting contest is coming up next.
Much like with holding online contests, directly asking your social media followers questions is yet another way to leverage your online presence. Not only does it further engage your base, but it can also provide you with additional information and insight as to who your customers are, how they think you are doing, and what else they may want to see. Not only will you be able to gather feedback, but you will be able to directly respond to questions or concerns that may be particularly pressing, thus further creating a sense of community. This will also demonstrate to your customers that you do care about them and their feedback, that your priority is to provide them with the products or services that they need.
Remember: the original intent of social media platforms was to engage people, not businesses, so keep that in mind when utilizing your online presence: engage people.
Every Day is a Holiday
National Respect Your Cat Day or National Puppy Day may sound like silly, made-up holiday’s whenever those days roll around. Is your Facebook news feed overwhelmed by photos of all the cute, furry pets that your friends and family have? They may be silly holidays, but they are clearly creating positive social media engagement, so why should your small business not get in on that action? Wondering which ones your small business could be observing? Well, if you own a bakery, you may want to consider celebrating January 23rd, which is National Pie Day and February 27th, also known as Chocolate Cake Day. Oh, and who can forget Marzipan Day, which of course is, January 12th. Own a cafe or coffee shop? Then, celebrating Iced Tea Day on June 10th could be right up your alley, along with preparing for fall with National Coffee Day on September 29th.
You also should not feel limited to those days that are specifically tied into your small business; this is yet another opportunity to have fun! Regardless of the products or services you provide, don’t be afraid to engage your social media followers with fun, creative posts on October 17th, by posting photos of yourself and your staff on Wear Something Gaudy Day. It will give them a good laugh, and allow your employees to have fun and get creative. Check out this Weird Holiday Calendar to help you in putting together your external communications plans in regards to your celebration of crazy holidays. However, always be mindful of any nationally recognized holidays with which these fun ones may coincide. After all, you do not want to be subjected to social media backlash with posts and tweets about eating bacon on a day in which Muslims observe a high holiday, or ignoring a day that is reserved for honoring veterans.
To ensure your posts are getting the most amount of traction, you will need to make sure you are also utilizing the correct hashtag. The Twitter Listening Report can provide you will further information on digger deeper into keyword analytics to help you know the difference between #NationalCoffeeDay and #nationalcoffeeday, helping you best know which hashtags are best used to gain further attention for your small business.
Everyone Loves Story time
Again, remember: the original intent of social media platforms was to engage people, not business, so keep in mind that when utilizing your online presence: engage people. As such, don’t limit your social media presence to posts regarding new products or services, or information regarding changes in business hours. Engage your social media followers with stories of people just like them, after all, who doesn’t love a good human interest story? If you are a personal trainer, highlight the accomplishments of your clients with stories of their progress on their health and fitness journey, with photos documenting their weight loss, along with information as to why they began this workout plan. If you provide tutoring services, have clients write testimonials about the academic progress that they have made, perhaps adding content from their other teachers. Provide more information than just some quotes and data such as better grades or the amount of weight loss: allow it be more personal when telling someone’s story, so as to engage your readers. Of course, never post photos or personal information about a client or customer without their consent! If you do not have a marketing person on staff who is versed in media consent forms, you may want to consult with an attorney to obtain standard consent forms, to ensure all of your bases are covered.
Additionally, does your small business engage in philanthropy? Utilizing your social media presence to not only highlight your charitable giving, but to highlight the work being done by said charity can be a win-win for all involved.
Look beyond uploading photos and consider uploading videos, as this can also help your business stand out amongst the crowd of uploaded photos. Upload video tutorials of how to make essential oil diffuser blends with the oils purchased at your homeopathic shop, or a quick video of how to teach your dog to rollover, if you own a pet shop.
Interview partners or clients on Facebook Live, or utilize that functionality to hold an online flash sale for your store. Have you recently renovated? Let your customers take a virtual tour of your new space, getting them excited for their next visit. Again, this is yet another area that will allow you to really flex those creative muscles.
There are plenty of ways to better leverage your social media presence, ways that you may not have yet thought of. Social media, given it’s affordability, allows you to experiment with what works and what doesn’t, have fun and be creative. No matter what avenues you decide to use, remember that not everything is going to work for every occasion, so don’t be afraid to mix it up, and don’t forget to be consistent. As not everyone is always going to see all of your posts, the more consistently you are posting, the greater the likelihood of increased engagement among your social media audience.