Do you feel that your social media growth has stalled?
One of the most frustrating parts about creating an online community is the feeling that it isn’t growing. Many small business owners start pages for their businesses on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and invest hours and hours into them, only to see their followers tick up one at a time in slow motion.
Many social media “experts” will tell you that the trick to social media is perseverance, and I agree with that. However, it’s important to remember that spending hours every day on social media is NOT your job! And it’s NOT a good use of your time! You’re a small business owner with a ton of daily responsibilities, not to mention you should be spending the bulk of your time on that one thing that only you can do. Spending your time on Instagram is not one of them.
That’s why hiring a digital marketing team with social media marketing experience can be an excellent investment for a small business owner. Rather than using your time and energy on building up your following, you can get an expert who will put their knowledge to work for you, building up your audience using tried and true methods. Here are some of my favorites:
Engagement is Key
When you want to grow your audience, engagement is key. The more attention you give your followers, the more attention you will receive.
In this way, social media mirrors the real world. If you want to build a clientele, you need to have conversations and make connections while they’re at your brick-and-mortar location. The same is true for social media. The only thing that’s changed is the “venue.”
Commenting on posts is a remarkably effective way of engaging. By hiring a digital marketing team, they can do all of your commenting for you, finding posts that will likely be followed by your target audience. It isn’t just a game of posting “Hey, nice photo” here and “Love this” there. Social media experts will spend their time writing engaging messages, inviting people to interact, and start conversations in the comment section. It’s a strategy!
And after you engage in conversation with specific people in the comments, you could fire off a direct message to them. Mind you, it’s important that you, again, have a strategy here so you aren’t just sending random messages. By creating a set of templates for your introduction and follow-up messages, you can increase the odds that a direct message will garner a positive response (we can write those for you)!
Getting Groupy with It
Simply put, groups are an AMAZING way to connect with your target audience.
A challenge of social media is figuring out which people make up your target audience, then engaging with them. Facebook and LinkedIn groups, however, make this incredibly easy! You simply need to find the groups that share your values and attract the people you want to be your customers.
This is another place where having a digital marketing team can be a great way to save time. Facebook and other social media networks are specifically designed to draw people into them for hours at a time. They are possibly the most effective time-sink ever invented. If you were to search Facebook and LinkedIn to find the groups with “your” audience, you could lose an entire afternoon. But when you have a social media expert doing it for you, they know exactly where to look.
By the way, I wouldn’t recommend going crazy and adding/posting to tons of different groups online. That’s not a good use of your time, (and could come off as spamming). Instead, pick a few that you feel passionate about and start to get engaged with them. It’s better to focus your attention on a few groups with tons of potential clients than hundreds of groups full of people who are not your audience.
Hashtags for the Win
Groups are only one of the ways you can find your ideal audience on social media networks. Another powerful method is to use hashtags effectively.
Hashtags are often thrown around with little care or thought, but in reality, they are a stunningly powerful tool for locating the people who are genuinely interested in your content.
Ask yourself what hashtags you are interested in (with your business in mind). For example, #frenchbulldogs would be perfect for me personally, but would hardly help me build my Jennie Lyon Digital Marketing audience! Instead I would search for hashtags that I feel my ideal audience would be using in their posts!
Once you have a list of potential hashtags, do some searches for them. That way, you can find your ideal client who is using them and then engage those “peeps” in conversation. Do NOT hit them with sales jargon or marketing lingo. Actually engage them in thoughtful conversation. You want them to engage back, not feel like they’re being “marketed” to. You want to start and build a relationship.
Similarly, you want to put some thought into the hashtags that you include with your posts. My advice would be to include at least two or three constant hashtags specific to your business and a few specific to the posts. That will give you a good cross-section of hashtags for those already following you and those searching for your types of content. Remember to use the full 30 hashtags on every single post or you’re just missing an opportunity.
Content is Still Queen
If you want people to be engaged by your social media content, you will need to provide them with genuine content that is value packed and gives them small wins!
Content is the bread and butter of digital marketing. Weekly blog posts and newsletters, free lead magnets, webinars, and other kinds of valuable content are what bring people to your website, then convert them into paying customers. And social media is possibly the best way to get all of your content out there.
If you offer valuable content, people will want to engage with you. This is especially true if you create it regularly (don’t forget the importance of beautiful graphics for your posts). People will follow your accounts simply because they know that you will be posting more exciting content in the near future.
Unfortunately for most small business owners, the only thing that’s more time-consuming than social media is creating content. Coming up with a weekly piece of content (blog, podcast, video) can consume hours of your life. Hiring a copywriter who is a professional is an incredible time-saver. This could even improve your content’s quality (and thus improve your social media engagement).
I adore Instagram stories.
Here is the thing about most social media: it’s disposable. Long-term, it doesn’t matter how popular your last post was because it’s going to get buried in a mountain of content from other people only a day later. It’s the regular day-over-day posting that builds your audience, not a single post you created months ago. So, why not embrace the disposable nature of social media and use Stories as a way to build your audience.
An Instagram story is usually a short video clip highlighting you, your content, and your business. Once posted, they are only there for 24 hours and are then deleted (though you CAN save your stories to highlights, but that’s a “story” for another time). Even better, Instagram Stories proved so popular that Facebook imported them into the top of your FB newsfeed. Many other social media networks have adopted the same idea as stories into their own platforms. Trust me, the “short and temporary” video format isn’t going anywhere!
There are various strategies that small businesses use with Instagram Stories, but I feel like a good start is to post a story at least five times every week. Try this for 30 days, then check your results. If you’re getting a ton of interest, then maybe try to do multiple stories every day (even the weekends).
Of course, suppose you can’t really interrupt your workflow every day to come up with an Instagram story. In that case, you could always hire us to do everything for you, from coming up with a Story strategy, to creating the story graphics, to overall engagement with your followers!
So, What Did We Learn?
Let’s review what we learned:
- Spending hours on social media every day is NOT your job! You need to stick within your area of genius and hire a team to help you with everything else!
- Hiring a social media expert to take care of your social media is a smart investment.
- The key to building followers is to engage with people online. Engage! Don’t forget to be “social” on social media.
- After engaging with someone in a comment section, consider sending them a direct message (using a template that you can use over and over again.)
- Groups can be a fantastic way to find hundreds if not thousands of members of your ideal audience in the same place.
- Don’t join hundreds of groups though. Instead, focus on a select few.
- Use hashtags to find your ideal audience. And use hashtags to help them find you!
- Creating valuable/actionable content is the key to getting followers on social media.
- Social media is inherently disposable, and Instagram Stories embrace this! So don’t overthink it, just do it!
- A good starting strategy for Stories is to post five a week, then go from there.
We’re only scratching the surface here of what our digital marketing team can do to revamp and supercharge your small business’ social media presence. If you want an even better idea of ways to grow your social media audience, we have a ton of free resources, including the Making the Most of Social Media: Workbook. Inside, you’ll find some of the secrets I use to help my clients build their social media followings! And the secrets that I’ve been using to grow mine! It’s jumped from a couple thousand followers on Instagram to almost 6 in a few short months.
Or if you’d prefer to cut right to the chase and have us take care of all your social media for you, I invite you to contact me here for a free consultation. Let’s get together and talk about your social media goals and how we can achieve them on a budget that works for you!
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