I get asked quite a lot by small companies and start ups is advice on their current social media strategy and for advice on working with bloggers. It is wonderful see so many people setting up businesses now, but the very nature of that venture is that you need to wear a lot of hats and be proficent in so many areas of expertise from the finacnes to the marketing. And social media is a wonderful thing for small businesses, it means that they can access a huge audience of people for a relatively small spend but there is more to social media than meets the eye. I want to go through some of the most common questions I get and the most common suggestions I give so that it may help another small business owner to perhaps step back from it all if they are lost in the fog.
Know where your audience is! This is the number one most important thing that any small business needs to understand. Some (mainly female) small business owners who have contacted me worry about their Instagram numbers and I always tell them to step back. Instagram lately is jam packed full of bloggers and influencers all caught up in the follow unfollow game or whatever new trick there is to beating the algorithm and who are solely focused on being the next Chiara Ferragmi. I ask my friends where do they follow my blog for example and the answer is almost always the same – Facebook. If you want to access a really real audience, those that for every like that your post gets on Facebook is more or less genuine then it has to be the place to focus. And yes people lament that it is hard to work and that is so true but to that I say, study your page insights and understand your audience, for example, my Facebook audience generally consists of mothers or busy working women, so there would be no point in me posting anything before 8,30pm when my audience is sitting down after a long day, kids are bed and the ready to relax usually on Facebook!
The ‘knowing where your audience is’ one also helps in that you then know where to direct your attention in terms of your online presence. And while I think you should be on all the major platforms (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) it’s important not to waste your time tweeting when you should be posting to Facebook. A really basic breakdown of the types of people I think use each platform would go like this:
- Facebook – real people, the place the vast majority of small businesses will find their target audience
- Twitter – other businesses, good for interacting with other businesses but real people only use Twitter for finding out the latest or breaking news stories (from what I can gather through my own research)
Instagram – bloggers/influencers and yes real people but I would say the real people use it more inciendeally, that said if you want to work with a blogger or influencer Instagram is a great place to strike up a good relationship with them and also to find out which one appeals to your brand etc.Know who your audience is (and maybe tweek it!) – This may sound obvious in a way, I had a friend contact me about a product that was most suited to gardening and motor enthusiasts, which it was but the simple fact of the matter is the age profile of those who are really into gardening, for example, is (and without want to make a massively large sweeping statement) generally older and when you look at the age profile of social media users in Ireland they are younger. So maybe Instagram is not the place you are going to find an Irish gardening enthusiast but it didn’t mean the product had to be changed but rather the audience he wanted to target was tweeked. And here is a really excellent infographic from Connector that breaks down the users of social media really well, it also reiterates my previous point re Facebook versus Instagram – the former has 2.2 million Irish users with the latter a mere 720,000 proving Facebook is really the place to start targeting if you want to convert posts into sales.
Working with bloggers and influencers – this is a really frequently asked question and I am not going to give out any details on what influencers charge because every single one of us are different. More and more companies and businesses are looking to bloggers and infleuncers to promote a product or service and it is a really effective way to reach a trusted audience. But do your research and know what to look for, don’t be swayed by individual numbers and by this I mean don’t just look at the follower count on Instagram for example, look at the engagement rate, the likes and the comments, and the same goes for Facebook, look at the comments under previous posts recommending a product – are people tagging other people in the comments? If they are that’s a sure sign that that blogger/influencer makes recommendations that people listen to and respond to. I am also often asked whether to look to target one huge influencer or to spread the work around a number of smaller influencers and for this I would say it is hard to answer – look deeper into the figures and the age profile of their followers for example, there is no point approaching a large influence in her 30’s to advertise anti ageing creams if her following is mainly those in their 20’s. But whatever you choose to do, drop them an email by way of introduction, be clear on what you want, look at different ways of collaborating like a giveaway if you want to increase your own following, if it’s SEO you want to improve ask them for a mention in a blog post with a link to your website etc, there are many ways to skin a cat!
If I were to delve into the ins and outs of each social media platform I’d be here for a week, so this is just a starter post, after that investigate your target platform, read articles on the topic, always the more recent ones as the very nature of social media is that the goalposts are constantly shifting, what might work one week might not work the next it moves that fast. Practise makes perfect, in terms of photography, your voice, your content, it will change and it will improve so keep working at it. Probably the most important thing to be aware is that the followers and fans don’t come overnight there is such a volume of social media accounts out there that standing out from the rest requires hard work, dedication and consistency.