Every social media platform seems to change on a weekly or monthly basis, so the actual techniques you’ll be using will have to change over time. But regardless of platform changes, these eight factors are essential if you decide to use social media as a growth tool for your business.
Clients ask me often if they need to post everyday. The industry standard line is the more posts, the better, but determining what’s actually realistic is the goal here. For most of my social media clients, I recommend posting 2-4 times each week. I find that higher quality posts less often is a strategy that works well for most small businesses.
Whatever you decide your team or your budget can handle, make it consistent. Decide to post on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, then stick to it. Don’t go all out one month and be silent the next month. If a crisis like COVID-19 hits, shift your messaging, but try to stick to your schedule. And keep your language and brand voice as consistent as possible too. When someone looks through your feed, you don’t want the posts to feel like they were written by many different people.
If you feel like it’s not working, just keep going. Organic social media growth is a long and slow game. Many products exist that promise fast, easy growth — unfortunately this isn’t sustainable. Instagram especially will shut you down if you’re using tools or techniques they don’t approve of.
I’ve unfollowed almost every business account I used to follow on Instagram and Facebook. Especially on Instagram, I want my app experience to be a sacred one made up of friends, family and inspiration. Not everyone feels this way, but with information overload, more and more people are leaning in this direction.
So what do you do to combat this? Become more human. Lose the business jargon and act like a neighbor instead. Especially on Instagram and Facebook, posts about the business owners and employees perform really well. It’s social media after all – we want to see and interact with real people. It’s different than your personal channels of course, but think of ways to show the human side of your business — an employee of the week highlight, making sure to get photos of owners or employees at community service events, sharing articles about the people who make up the business. This is your advantage as a small business — you ARE a human and can easily show that.
This goes for engagement too. Avoid looking like a bot when doing engagement on Instagram or Facebook. Celebrate people’s wins and mourn their losses with them.
I’ll keep this one short and sweet — think of yourself like a good community member or a good neighbor. Comment on other posts to be seen engaging in a positive ways. Comment on potential clients’ posts, as above, to celebrate and mourn with them. Please, please don’t be salesy — your behavior will sell your business for you without you having to list out your products or offerings every time you comment.
4. DECENT IMAGES & COHERENT CAPTIONS
This one feels like a no brainer, but I have to include it. iPhone and good cell phone photos are fine if they’re good quality! Even if you think of a good caption for them, avoid images that are blurry, cut off the subject in a strange way or are overly cluttered.
The same type of guideline goes for captions. Make sure you’re using correct grammar, spelling, punctuation, etc. Some brands like long captions, some like short; either way, determine your brand voice and try to stick to it. Another no brainer — make sure the caption relates to the image. You can talk about more than the image, but at least make a connection between the two.
I’d rather see a business post one really good post per week than three unpolished posts each week. Keep in mind that social media serves as social proof. Especially for a small business, your potential customers might click on your accounts, do a quick scroll to make sure you’re legit, and then make a purchasing decision. These folks don’t care if you’re posting once a day or once a week.
There are many tools to measure your social media success and they all have different pros and cons. The important things are 1) find one that feels intuitive and user-friendly to you and 2) set it up ASAP. Most tools aren’t able to gather social media data retroactively, so the sooner you set it up, the better. Instagram, Facebook and Google My Business all have internal insights, but they often don’t let you compare over time (month over month, quarter over quarter, year over year) and can feel a bit clunky compared to a streamlined analytics tool like Sprout Social or ???.
You’ll want to learn how to interpret the data so you can use it to improve your content. You can work with a consultant who can guide you through this, or you can take a course on it — there are tons of social media analytics courses out there these days. Or you can dive in to a couple months of data and figure it out yourself. It can be intimidating to start, but it’s pretty intuitive!
6. A BUDGET
Most social media platforms are moving increasingly to a pay-to-play model. Facebook and Instagram especially are well-known for having algorithms that are tough to hack. What helps? Ad money! This is how the platforms make their money, and it’s a must for any small business that wants to see significant growth.
Developing a whole Facebook or Instagram ads strategy is a good idea, but if you’re just starting out, I recommend boosting a few posts each month just to increase brand awareness. Not all the people who see or like your post will become followers or potential leads, but it helps hugely to get more eyes on your posts.
7. REAL VALUE
This one feels a bit silly to include, but it’s important. If you’re just starting a social media channel to brag about how great your business is, you’ll have a hard time drawing in followers and having them buy into your mission and brand.
The best way to avoid this, in my opinion, is to come from a place of service. If your goal is to make your follower’s life easier, better, more inspired or more beautiful, you’ll be able to craft content that aligns with this.
Try showing instead of telling. If you’re a wedding planner, don’t talk about how great you are and how much your clients loved working with you. Post a photo of them smiling and say why you loved working with them. Post a creative place setting and talk about how it uniquely reflected the couple’s personality. Do your clients all live in your area? Share some of your favorite local businesses. Share tips for enjoying places you love most. Think of what problems your clients have (this is marketing 101) and offer solutions — you can do this on a really tiny but impactful level on a social media post.
8. A CLEAR NEXT STEP
The point of you investing in your social media accounts is, of course, to grow your business and see a return on your investment. While social media often delivers leads in a slower pace than other marketing campaigns, it can deliver really quality leads — once they’re ready to purchase, your longtime followers will already be endeared to you. But if you don’t make the next step clear, or the next step doesn’t wow them, you’ve wasted all the time you put into social media.
Many clients I work with are able to develop strong social media channels but forget the next step — usually the business’s website. With tools like Linktree or a dedicated landing page on Instagram, and regular links on Facebook and Google My Business, you can get people to your site in an efficient way. But if they land on your site and don’t see the immediate next step (a product listing they can add to their cart, a contact page/form, a blog post you invited them to read), they’ll feel misled. Only the most dedicated potential leads will poke around your site til they find what you’ve promised them; most will leave and not come back.
There are many things you should think about in a website, but to keep it quick, make sure a) your website is completely mobile-responsive, b) you’re sending them to an appropriate section/landing page on your site, and c) you make it clear what the next step is once they’re on your site.