I attended a handful of entrepreneurial gatherings this past month. The topic that showed up again and again in presentations was, “How to Use Instagram for Your Business”. Understandable, as the total number of Instagram users increased by 1/3 over the last year (source) - and small businesses are feeling pressured to join this growing platform. Many already have with 71% of U.S. businesses using Instagram (source).
The presenters walked through the basics of what to post, how to select hashtags, finding free stock photos on Unsplash, adding your branding to photos using Canva, creating Instagram stories that keep people’s attention, engaging with your followers’ content, creating a content calendar, automating posts…and so on.
All important elements of playing the social media game, but they missed THE MOST fundamental question: WHY are you using social media for your business in the first place?
We’ve all heard that it’s one of the most effective and inexpensive ways to reach and stay in front of people. However, simply being present and growing your following is not necessarily going to contribute to the growth of your business.
Social media is an avenue for you to put your marketing plan into action. Once you develop an intentional marketing plan based on your individual business goals, then you will know how to use social media to help support the growth of your business.
4 Ways to use social MEDIA more INTENTIONALLY
1. Increase Brand Awareness
Close your eyes for a moment and think of your favorite brand. What words and images come to mind? How does the brand make you feel?
This exercise shows us that successful brands create a distinct and consistent experience for their clients/customers. One that considers the brand’s personality, what it stands for, the language and images it uses, etc.
As you think about using social media to increase brand awareness, ask yourself:
What do you want to be known for?
What are the core messages of your brand?
How will you uniquely show up on social media?
Having clarity on your own brand and messaging is essential for your audience to remember who are you and what you stand for.
2. Distribute Content
If your marketing is an engine, your content is the gas. Content is any form of communication that your business has with your market. In the digital world, it usually takes the form of blog posts, videos, Ebooks, white papers, infographics, and checklists. Once you know your brand’s core messages and have an intimate understanding of your target market, coming up with topics to write about shouldn’t be too difficult.
Before distributing your content, ask yourself:
Does it address a question or need of my ideal client?
Does it express a core message of my brand?
Does it allow my target market to form a personal connection with my business?
Social media is one of the best avenues to distribute your content, along with email. The key is to have a consistent message and share content regularly.
3. Engage with Your Community
While social media can feel like an artificial world, it is a modern-day mode of communication. It’s right up there with face-to-face, phone, email, and mail. Most small businesses miss the opportunity to foster a relationship with their audience because they think about social media as a one-way street to talk about their business.
Consider the different ways you can engage with your community:
Tell a personal story
Do a live video
Conduct a poll or survey
Ask for user generated content
Comment on your followers’ content (thoughtfully!)
4. Generate Leads
Ah yes, the “sales-y” part of marketing. Here’s the thing - we live in a noisy, complex world and the internet presents us with an endless number of choices.
It may feel foreign or inauthentic to you, but small businesses must nurture prospects and clients online through various stages in order for trust and respect to develop. Luckily there are a variety of tools and techniques to connect and foster a relationship with the people who will resonate with your brand.
A first step to generating leads is to create an offer, such as a recorded video, white paper, or live online event. Require your audience to submit their email address in order to receive the offer. You will need to create a landing page on your website that asks for an email address.
Once you have an offer and landing page setup, there are a variety of ways to promote it on social media:
Add a call-to-action button on your social media profile
Create live videos that introduce the content
Share a blog post that contains a link to the offer
Run targeted ads
And then, of course, you’ll want to design an effective email campaign to nurture your leads. It sounds like hard work - because it is! There are not many quick-fixes when it comes to marketing.
Sustainable growth comes from a thoughtfully crafted and executed strategy. This is why I help small businesses uncover more meaningful aspects of their business and develop a marketing plan that guides decisions related to their brand and messaging, website, social media and email communications.
Would like to take a more intentional approach to social media? Let’s Chat.