It seems (to me anyway) that people spend so much time on social media nowadays that if you have a small business, or any kind of product to sell, you really need to be there.

I’m no expert but, two small businesses in – both with a fairly decent following – I thought I’d share what I’d learnt so far.

You don’t have to be everywhere

There are so many channels out there that you could probably spend all your time creating profiles then keeping them updated – but you probably wouldn’t get much else done. One of the best pieces of advice I was given was to pick just one or two channels and use them well.  I use Facebook primarily, followed by Twitter, with the odd post in Instagram (when I remember).

I link my Facebook and Twitter accounts so every Facebook post is automatically tweeted – which saves loads of time.

If you’re not sure what channels to use, find out (or take a good guess) at which your customers use and make sure you’re using them.

Post regularly

This doesn’t mean everyday (although you can if you like – plenty do).  I aim to have four posts a week, which I think is a good balance between showing up too much and being forgotten.  Remember, it takes time to find stuff to post, so it depends how much time you want to spend doing this.

Make your posts relevant

Anything you share, on any channel, needs to be of interest to the people reading it. Assuming the people following you are your ideal customers (plus your friends and family, probably!), this means things that will be relevant to them.  

It can’t just be about you trying to sell, whatever it is you have to sell.  I once met a social media ‘guru’ who said that 10% of what you post should be selling your product or service.  The other 90% should be content aimed at entertaining, educating, or informing your customers – in a way that’s relevant to them and to you.

For example, I sell baby products, so I post articles about babies, baby sleep, being a parent, etc.  My other business is a local one, so I post about things happening in the community (events, etc) that I think my audience (also parents) would be interested in.

Think about when you post

Timing is key.  You’ll hear lots of different advice about the best times to post but, as this will be different for everyone, the best thing is to just find out for yourself.  If you go into your Insights tab you can actually see the times of day when people engage with your posts. Now you can just schedule them in to match up with these times (as it would seem that your audience is online).

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My audience seem to be online from 6am, and til gone 10. Luckily that’s a good time of the day! I time my posts for early (to catch those who check their phones first thing), plus after the kids have gone to bed.

If you have something you really want people to see it can be worth posting more than once.  I don’t do this much but, for certain things (launching a new product, a competition, etc) it can be worth it.  This is because people only scroll so far down their newsfeed, so it gives you more chance of showing up.

It’s ok to sell yourself (a little)

I know I said don’t just sell – but if you have a product or service, and you’re on social media, chances are you do want to sell it and you can do (10% of the time!)

There are few ways you can do this:

  1. Feature your product in posts.  I.e. post lovely photos of your products, ask your audience to send in photos of themselves using your product (if appropriate), or, do as I sometimes do, and use Canva to create nice graphics using quotes from positive reviews.
  2. Use the new(ish) shop feature on Facebook to provide a direct link to wherever it is you sell your product.
  3. Pay for sponsored posts.  If you have something you really want to say, you can often increase the number of people who see your posts significantly by paying for it.   I won’t go into detail here, as it’s pretty self explanatory if you go into Facebook’s ad manager, but I’ve always had good results from using it.
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Here’s an example of an image I created on Canva, to use as a Facebook post

It takes time.

You need to be prepared to spend time every week scheduling in your posts.  This doesn’t apply to Instagram, where you don’t have that feature, but on Twitter and Facebook – the main ones I use, you definitely can and it’s worth setting aside time each week to do this.

It also takes time to build up a following. Initially, my Facebook followers were all friends that I invited to like my page.  Gradually, it’s built up and now includes a large number of people I don’t actually know.  On Twitter and Instagram, the best approach seems to be to follow people that are either interesting, useful, or have a similar offering to you and usually they’ll follow you back.

Another thing that can work on Facebook is asking people (in your posts) to comment, share thoughts, etc.  The more people that do, the more newsfeeds you’ll end up on and hopefully that will lead to some new likes.

Add some personality

This might not apply to everyone, but, I like to think that one unique thing about my business is me – and social media (and this blog, of course) are both ways of making myself human.  I’m not a big corporation, I don’t pretend to be, and I try and reflect that in my social media (as you can’t put that in an Amazon listing!)
Whatever kind of business you have, hopefully you found at least some of this helpful.  Is there anything you disagree with?  Or any tips you’d add?