So you’ve had this great idea for a business for some time now. It’s probably been percolating away in your head forever until you just couldn’t ignore it anymore and you decided now’s the time to make it happen. You’ve bought your domain name, set up your social accounts, maybe even got a great logo and a custom email address … now what?
At this point, two responses are common;
You’re either stunned like a rabbit in the headlights (do rabbits actually get stunned by headlights? Just that we don’t have deer here …), frozen on the spot, too scared to move, petrified of posting the wrong thing, and what on earth would you say anyway.
Or, you’re so excited you spend every waking moment on social media posting everything from pictures of your dog (not an entirely bad idea - people do love dog posts), to your logo, what you made for dinner, your logo, 20 thousand articles links, related or not, your logo, your product, your logo, and your logo.
Either way, overwhelm starts to set in and heaven forbid anyone mention the words “social media strategy” and you’re likely to explode, or crawl quietly into a hole. Ridiculously stunned, completely petrified, or ridiculously enthusiastic, to the point of being a danger to yourself and others - can you relate?
The good news is that strategy, when you’re starting out on social media, can be really very simple - just 3 goals to keep in mind and be moving towards achieving;
Being visible - in other words, getting out there.
Building relationships - you might have a great logo, but your business isn’t your logo, people want to connect with you.
Learn by doing and asking. You don’t have to have it all figured out before you start and you don’t have to guess - try things out, see what works, ask about what people want, how much they want to pay - listen.
When you’re starting out on social media for your business, it can be daunting, that’s a given, but it doesn’t have to be harder than it needs to be. Whether you’re going it alone and wearing 20 hats on any given day, or you’ve got a team and looking to scale as quickly as possible, these social media goals are timeless and will continue to underpin your strategy as it grows and becomes more sophisticated. That’s why it’s a really good idea to start simply and nail these fundamentals before things get more complicated.
Being visible means getting out there. People have to be able to see you and be able to find you. Simply having a great logo and your social accounts all set up is not enough. That’s because people aren’t looking for profiles - they’re in their feeds looking at content. I hate to state the obvious, but this is why we post, pin, tweet, snap and share - so people see it.
Initially, this can be quite confronting for some people, the deers (or rabbits), but there’s no way around it. You need to put yourself out there and show people what it is you’re doing and who you are. Of course you don’t want to be salesy, sleasy or just too in-your-face (the dangerously excited ones), but people need to know who you are and what you do in order for them to even consider doing business with you.
For both the deers and the dangerously excited alike, the comfort, voice and rhythm of social media takes practice. Don’t lose sight of that. Feeling comfortable with this stuff and knowing what you’re doing will come with persistence and time, and you will get there.
Be visible by;
Choosing one or two platforms to get started with, you don’t have to be on every one, and then take some time to make sure you have your profile and bio details filled in completely and correctly. Do a Google search for each platform you’re active on and fill in all of the fields.
Consistency matters - post at least daily. You may want to post more often, but particularly if you’re not super-comfortable with getting out there that much, posting every day is a daily step forward in practicing and gaining confidence in getting out there.
Invite your friends that are active on your chosen platform(s) to follow you - they’ll be keen to support you and it’s all just more practice for you in getting out there.
Use the search function on your chosen platform(s) to find other businesses like yours and follow them. Follow them as yourself and as your business - you can learn from what they’re doing and expose them to your brand at the same time.
Use images (obvious for Instagram and Pinterest), but images on other platforms make your posts more visible and engaging.
Show yourself - don’t be afraid to let your personality shine through. The people who do well on social media stand out because their personality, or their brand personality shows through.
Building relationships - forget about ‘being a business’, just focus on relationships.
A business is a collection of relationships … and we human beings like to have relationships with other human beings. It’s how we do everything, including business. Whatever you do, don’t be afraid to treat people the way you would in real life (assuming you’re not a sociopath of course) because in fact, this is the very thing that helps you stand out on social media and will make your business a success. Lots of businesses get that wrong and don’t put the effort they should into the relationships that sustain them.
Building relationships means using the same rules of engagement as you would in the real world. It means being respectful, saying hello, acknowledging people when they’ve taken the time to acknowledge you with a comment, or a follow. It means introducing yourself, being real, being you. It means being helpful and interested rather than interesting. It means seeking out the person behind the posts and it means being a real person behind your posts.
There is a lot of value you can offer people right now, just by being helpful, so be helpful. You don’t have to have your 5-year strategy and full-product or service line fully figured out to be insanely helpful to someone today. By listening and learning and offering your help wherever you can, gives you the opportunity to start building relationships, which are the foundation of your business and all of your marketing and social media efforts. Relationships take time to seed, nourish and flourish so don’t wait to get started. You have everything you need to start building your business relationships right now.
Start building relationships by;
Always respond to people who have taken the time to comment on your posts
Be authentic - don’t say things that aren’t true to make yourself look better
Be helpful - be of value to people by being helpful
Thank and acknowledge people who have tagged you or shared your posts
Learn by doing and asking.
The best way to learn anything is by doing it. By jumping in and getting active and consistent on social media, you’ll learn a tonne about the platform itself, you’ll learn about yourself and start to find your voice, and maybe most importantly, you’ll learn about the people you interact with - the people who are interested in what you do.
Through posting consistently you can be seen and found - you’re visible. Then you start building relationships by being a decent, helpful person. Then through those relationships you have an amazing opportunity to learn about the people who are interested in you, your product or your service. In marketing terms, these people are called your target audience, or target market.
The reason a relationship with these people on social media is gold, is because they can give you insights that enable you to better communicate and position your offerings. That means instead of making assumptions about a product you think they might want, at a price you think they’d be happy to pay, you can actually ask them. Imagine being able to do that. Now are you beginning to see why being visible, building relationships and learning from those relationships is a killer strategy?
Yes, it is simple, but it’s fundamental, evergreen, this is how-it-really-works stuff. And it actually does work. But, like all good and worthwhile things in life, it takes time, patience and effort. It’s not going to happen overnight and there’s a lot to learn and tweak along the way - both reasons to get started sooner than later.
Don’t wait until you feel like you’re qualified and confident enough - you just need to jump in now. Share what you know because that in itself provides enormous value to the person who knows a fraction of what you do, so that means you can help them right now. Post consistently, try things out, be real and learn. That’s all you need to do to keep it simple and set a solid foundation for future greatness.
Relax, you’ve got this.
Written by Andrea Kelly, with lots of encouragement and enthusiasm for the deers and the dangerously excited alike.