I hear this sort of thing all the time. Whether it’s direct to consumer (DTC), business to business (B2B), or even selling an in-person service, the simple truth is that social media is an extremely powerful tool that can 10x your business at a fraction of the cost and effort you would get with traditional media.
“But Skyler, I see all these platforms flashing before my eyes. How do I know which ones are right for my business? What types of content should I publish? Is there a specific brand image I should emulate? Where the bleep do I even start?!”
If you’re asking any of those questions, take a deep breath and relax. The following ten tips will tell you a lot about what you need to know to get your business started on social media.
1. Start Small
If you’ve never published anything on social media before, start small. Write a 350-word blog or a short LinkedIn post. Most importantly, keep your content focused. By zeroing on a content niche, not only will your job be easier, your customer will think of you as an expert on that subject.
Also, keep your goal reasonable. For example, instead of committing to posting one blog per day every day, try one per month. That might sound ridiculously easy, but accomplishing that goal will give you the confidence you need to set more ambitious goals in motion.
Setting a goal too high will only provide a larger opportunity for failure; setting a goal too low will result in satisfaction and an incrementally higher goal.
2. Don’t Sweat the Details
Too many small business owners want to master everything before they get started. This is like reading the entire instruction manual of a new camera before turning it on. My advice—just start taking pictures of what you like. Later on, you can still look back at the manual for helpful ideas and at that point, you’ll have a better understanding of what the manual is describing.
Getting bogged down into the details of the best time of day to post, which software to use, or what keywords to include in your content will only give you more reasons to slow you down and stop you from taking action.
Learn the minutiae of everything after you get started, and you may even find out that the little things don’t matter much anyway. For now, post, publish, and podcast away!
3. Be You
Authenticity can be an overused buzzword in any industry, but who you are will always be your superpower. You’ll never catch up to a leader by doing exactly what they do. They’re already ahead, so how are you going to get there by doing the same thing?
Doing things your way with the uniquely wonderful attributes you hold (aka “your superpowers) is much easier and more effective. That’s how you’ll catch a leader. It doesn’t matter if you’re introverted or extroverted. Being as authentic as possible is always best.
4. Be Vulnerable
“Fake it until you make it” doesn’t work. People fall into this trap all the time. They see someone who is super charismatic and try to be that person. The problem is, if you’re naturally a little shy or more reserved, the effort to be something else comes off as disingenuous and untrustworthy.
By not being afraid to show a bit of vulnerability, you double-down on authenticity. It’s ok to let your customer see what you’re not great at. If you’re uncomfortable on camera (not like stage-fright level, but just a touch anxious), let the customer get a glimpse of your charming awkwardness in the beginning.
As you make more videos, the customer gets to see your personal growth and feels like a part of your entrepreneurial journey. You establish a deeper connection with them this way.
5. Provide Value
The easiest hack for “what to post” is to think about what will provide value to the person you’re trying to reach. For example, write a post about a question you answered for a customer that day. Chances are, if that customer had a question, other customers will want the same information.
If you own a hardware store, there’s no benefit to anybody if you post about a heart-healthy diet or the latest K-pop band. Instead, post how-to videos; write content about the best type of lawn care products; tell your customer about an upcoming store event; or simply say “happy birthday” to all of your clients when you see that notification on Facebook.
Your content should always reflect value to the people you’re trying to reach.
“Social media is about the people, not about your business. Provide for the people and the people will provide for you.” – Matt Goulart
6. Know Relevant Culture
Be authentic about yourself, but understand the norms and modern practices for the platforms on which you’re posting content. For example, many people make the mistake of creating an outstanding online video and post the link to every social media platform.
Then, they wonder why the video didn’t go viral. The reason is that it’s not an acceptable norm to post a YouTube link on FB; you upload the video.
Invest the time to learn and understand the culture of your chosen platform. Otherwise, you’ll be wasting your time copying and pasting links that don’t get viewed.
7. Understand Political Posts
The cardinal rule used to be to avoid political posts like they were some form of flesh-eating bacteria. Now, you need to at least understand them. The hot button issue of politics has become so intense, you need to at least be aware of what’s happening. Otherwise, you risk turning customers off by appearing uncaring about current affairs.
If you choose to jump into the online political arena all-in, you might solidify connections with certain people while alienating yourself from others. If that’s part of the authentic you, then that might be a smart play for your business.
Realize, however, that politics can exhaust people. You might get a modicum of short-term engagement, but leaning too hard into this space can also turn people off.
8. Repurpose Content
When you pivot to a new space, it will probably be an easier transition than you think because you’re not really starting over. Once your current channel is clicking on all cylinders, you can take a small step into another platform based on what you’ve already built. In fact, you can use some of the same content.
Suppose you’ve been blogging for over a year and developed a decent following. You might want to consider a YouTube channel, but have no idea what video to make first. A good bet is to begin your new engagement by making a video based on your most successful blog.
9. Pivot with One Foot
This is similar to a basketball move, where you plant your pivot foot after you pick up your dribble, but you move the other foot in a bunch of different directions. The goal is to angle your body in a way that opens up a better shot opportunity.
How does this apply to social media advertising? Suppose your Instagram channel is crushing it, but you want to get into Snapchat. Learn all about using Snapchat. Give it a try, but don’t abandon your money-maker, Instagram. If you don’t like the new channel, you can always go back to being all-in on Instagram..
10. Make a Top Ten List (Like I just Did!)
People love lists. That’s why clickbait does so well. I’m not advocating for clickbait necessarily, but top ten lists are low-hanging fruit for advertising attention.
Psychologically, we all love to see how others rank everything from movies and sports cars to exercise tips and the best vegan restaurants.
Top ten lists are ultimately clickable and skimmable, which today’s average internet user loves. For example, create a post about the top 10 questions you get asked in your business? Chances are, most of your customers will appreciate the information in at least two or three of them and read your next top ten list.
Social media can be intimidating, especially for older business owners (no offense). But there is too much advertising value online to not get involved.
If you do nothing else, commit to my first tip in this list. Start small. If you try to be everything to everyone, you will burn out and your advertising, as well as your business will suffer big time.
If you haven’t already committed at least some advertising resources to social media, get started today and relax, you don’t have to be perfect. Give it some time, keep trying, and eventually these tips will help you to leverage social media for optimal advertising success.
Article originally appeared on Addicted2Success