The truth about Social Media and Small Business
While it is true that many small business owners and sole traders are pretty short of free time, any time invested in building and growing your social media presence will be a good investment, as long as it is used effectively.
The first thing to do is to make a start by signing up for business pages. There are very easy to follow step-by-step guides provided by Facebook and Twitter if you are unsure about setting up your account or completing your profile. It is all pretty straight forward – trust me.
What many people worry about to begin with is attracting followers. There are two truths to remember here:
1. It doesn’t matter how many followers you have, and
2. It doesn’t matter how many followers you have
Yes, you heard me right. It doesn’t matter how many followers you have, so stop stressing about it! Spend your time on other important aspects of your social media campaign rather than worrying about numbers. If people are interested in what you have to offer, they will follow you. It will take time to attract new followers, but as the old saying goes ‘if you build it, they will come.’
OK, you may feel like a bit of an idiot to begin with, spending time writing articles for your blog and linking them to Facebook and Twitter when there is no one there to read your content, and you may be tempted to do half-hearted job of it too – after all, who is listening to you? But to do that would be quite short-sighted. Once you start to build a following, many of them will want to dig back through your archived posts to read more of your quality content. You want them to discover a wealth of useful stuff don’t you?
Always start as you mean to go on. Write each blog post and social media post as if you have 600 interested ears ready to listen to it. To some people, 600 followers would sound pretty poor, but wouldn’t you rather have 600 interested and fully engaged followers taking an interest in what you write, or 6,000 vague and slightly disinterested followers who may never take up your call to action.
Pick your social media platforms carefully. You as an individual may adore using Instagram, but is that the right platform for your business? To save you from wasting your precious time and effort on the wrong social media sites, you should be going to the places where your customers actually hang out. There is little point posting to Instagram if your business demographic only frequent Facebook.
See how I mentioned Facebook there? Did you notice that? Well, that was quite well chosen on my part simply because, even without doing any research on your particular business niche, your customers are probably already there. Facebook is THE social network, and has been the dominant force pretty much since day one. There are quite literally over 1.3 billion monthly active users, and that figure seems to increase each time I check it.
Admittedly, people use Facebook and other networks for social reasons, to update friends and family, and to find out which character they would play in Outlander (Colum Mackenzie, apparently), or Game of Thrones (Arya Stark), but even though people don’t use it for business every day, this is where they look if they want to find out more about a niche, a business or company.
If you can provide regular, interesting and helpful advice for your niche, then you will be remembered for it, and they will come back for more.
It doesn’t matter how old you are – you can do this!
Despite hearing a lot of negativity from more mature business owners, age is not a barrier to mastering social media. You don’t have to be a young computer whiz-kid to get it. The whole point of social media is to enable everyone to use it, even when granny and granddad only check in occasionally to look at new photographs of their grandchildren that have just been posted.
Why on earth would any social media platform make their apps or sites too hard to master. What would they gain by freezing out whole sections of society just because they are not that familiar with using a computer? If anything, using sites like Facebook can help the computer-terrified to overcome their fears by giving them instant rewards for their efforts.
Here is my final truth for today. Your content can be anything you want it to be. Many business owners can be a little stumped over posting content. Most will think you have to write a blog post each time with a word count of over 1500 words. Nothing could be further from the truth!
Going back to my earlier comment about Instagram, if you love taking photos, and lets face it – a picture can be worth a thousand words – then you can post photographs with just a short description or comment about what is going on. If you really struggle to write, but love being in front of the camera, then post a video of yourself chatting about your topic.
I will give you an example. There is a company that I buy from regularly, but most of their social media output consists of the owner posting short 30 second videos of himself chatting about his business, his latest deal, a competition they are running etc. He openly admits that he would struggle to sit and write a social media post, but being an ex-market trader with the gift of the gab, put him in front of a camera and he will give you gold!
I hope I have given you some food for thought here. Make your social media work for you, instead of the other way around.