Harnessing the Power of Social Media as a Small Business Owner

Insta, Snapchat and Tik Tok, Oh My!

Currently, there are 17 different social media platforms with over 300 million active users, 6 of which have over 1 billion users.

We are living in the age of social media. Nearly everyone you know is on some form of social media, likely more than one platform. Harnessing social media can be an incredibly powerful tool for small business owners. You have the ability to tell your story, showcase your products and engage with your customers like never before.

Content is King

Content is such a buzzword these days. But what does it mean and why is it so important? Content is what you’re posting, sharing and showing to your customers. It’s the pictures, graphics, text and everything in between. Consumers these days are driven by content. If the people that follow you aren’t entertained or engaged by what you are posting, you will lose them. The social media market is incredibly saturated with new platforms popping up every day. If you aren’t posting content that people want to consume they will quickly move on to the next.

Your content should help tell your story. Who are you? Why do you do what you do? Why should people care? Remember the 5 W’s from grade school? In case you need a refresher they are who, what, when where, and why. Use them. Social media is your avenue to connect with your customers and tell your story.

In terms of the content that you share, don’t be afraid to push the envelope. Be edgy. Get people’s attention. Say something bold.

Be Authentic

Over the last few years, there has been a strong shift towards authenticity and transparency in marketing. Gone are the days of untouchable brands hiding behind green curtains like the Wizard of Oz himself. Consumers want to know and trust the brands they buy from.

If you’re a small, family-owned coffee shop, be that. And be authentically that. Your social media shouldn’t present yourself as the next Starbucks if you aren’t. It won’t take long for consumers to see right through the facade and once that happens, trust is lost.

In terms of authenticity, it’s okay to show everything - the good, the bad, the ugly. Did you accidentally order 16 ounce cups instead of 12 ounce cups? Show that. Spin it into a one-time deal for consumers. Those little glimpses into “real life” are what connect us as humans. People don’t like the shiny, perfectly polished business. We like character, something we can relate to.

Engage, Engage, Engage

Engagement is another one of those trendy buzzwords these days. There are countless studies and articles on how to drive engagement on social media. You can spend all your time falling through a blackhole of data and analytics or you can just do it (this blog is not endorsed by Nike).

Engagement really can be simple. A like or comment can go a long way. Remember the Golden Rule? Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. This is quickly turning into an episode of Sesame Street, but hang with me. If you want people to like, comment and share things that you post, you should do the same for others.

It costs $0 and very little time to like and comment on another person or pages post. Interacting with your consumers and potential customers begins to build a relationship with them. That relationship is what keeps your business in the forefront of their mind. The next time they need a cup of coffee, those little things will make them think of you first.

And, for goodness sake, if someone comments on your post, please reply to them.

Keep it Short & Simple

I’m going to heed my own advice and keep this part short.

When posting on social media it is incredibly important to keep things as brief and as simple as possible. A recent study shows that the average attention span of people on Facebook is a mere 2.5 seconds. If that’s not enough to convince you to keep things short, i’m honestly not sure what will.

Video vs. Photo

Video content on social media is HUGE right now. While still photos are totally acceptable, you need to make sure you are also posting video content. Your video content doesn’t have to be full-length, Steven Spielberg-directed features (remember what I said about keeping things short?), but you do need to have it. Our brains are wired to want to consume video over photos and text. Video drives more views, engagement and shares. You can hold people’s attention for just a little bit longer if there is something for them to watch as opposed to just looking at.

Video doesn’t have to be over-complicated. Live, unedited shots can help reinforce that whole authenticity thing we chatted about earlier. There are also a number of easy-to-use tools for video editing that don’t require any sort of technical background to use, many of which are apps that you can download to your smart phone. A personal favorite of mine is an app called InShot (both free and paid versions exist!). You can also use programs like Loom to showcase things on your website or create other tutorials. Heck, even most smartphones these days have the ability to edit videos to an extent.

Video content shouldn’t be scary or intimidating. Don’t overthink it. Short little clips that showcase your business and who you are can be powerful marketing tools for your business.

Quality over Quantity

My parting advice is to focus on quality over quantity. Don’t just post stuff for the sake of posting stuff. Take the time to make sure that the content that you are putting on social media represents who you are and what you want to say. Simply posting filler does not serve your end goal. Sharing three quality posts per week versus twelve bad ones will ultimately lead to better results. While frequency is absolutely important in terms of social media, sharing content that people like and want to interact with will trump volume any day.


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