Is your small business on social media? Are you searching for new ways to build brand awareness and increase social media engagement with your ideal customers?
Since 2014, I’ve been improving the way I do a lot of things online. So I thought I’d share some lessons I learned along the way.
Like every other small business, I was trying to keep my marketing budget to a minimum. I was getting sick and tired of how Google Plus, Facebook and Twitter were letting me down. In this article, I’ll share 12 ways I managed to improve how I was engaging my audience and how they engaged with my brand.
As you’ll notice, I’ve still got a long way to go and I haven’t yet become a master at social media engagement. But my stats have improved a lot compared to before. So in my book, I’m winning!
1. I responded sooner to messages
Because we’re spending a lot of time online, it’s so easy to forget that the people commenting on our social media posts are real people. That’s because we don’t get to see their faces or reactions. We don’t know whether they’re desperately awaiting assistance. Perhaps our response could save their business. As I was trying to manage my hours, I would often leave messages and comments unanswered for hours. And then… it happened.
One morning, I found myself shopping for birthday present for someone. I had my credit card next to me, and I was on Google searching for something awesome. I found a product I wanted to buy, but I just needed to ask the supplier a quick question. I jumped onto their Facebook page and sent my question.
They took an entire week to respond!
After two days, I got tired of waiting. So I went elsewhere. As you can imagine, I didn’t appreciate them taking this long.
Maybe if they only took one day I’d say maybe people get busy. But an entire week?
Anyway, I decided I should stop making my followers and potential clients wait! They, too, could be going elsewhere if I take more than an hour to respond. If I don’t show interest, they will move on. A lost opportunity. End of story.
When building social media engagement, you have to show genuine interest. And you need to stick around to continue the conversation. As someone wise once said to me, if you completely ignore anyone who has commented on your Facebook page, Instagram, LinkedIn or Twitter accounts, that’s “as bad as killing a kitten”!
2. I made it all about my followers
As Facebook began to muck around with how my followers were receiving news, I needed to be more cautious about the stuff I was sharing on my Rhonda Chapman Copywriter business page. Facebook was soon starting to hide anything that was about me.
I read up a lot about the changes and also attended a Facebook for Business workshop in Rockingham with Sharyn McCaskey from Mdvs Business Services. Sharyn reminded me to avoid making it all about me, my brand, its services, its products and its achievements. She said to instead make it about the people who are in my community of followers. I adopted her tips and applied the same changes to my Instagram and Google Plus accounts.
Social media engagement soared. I got more views and more comments! Sharyn knows her stuff.
3. I added more value for my followers
In order for me to show my followers what I know and why they should choose me, I needed to really start showing and telling them what I know.
I started by removing some of the myths and misunderstandings about copywriting, content writing and the services that I offer. This helped me to show to those who had been let down by their writer that they’ll have a better experience when they choose to work with me.
I pretended that my community didn’t know anything about my services. I dished out bite-size information on how to and how not to write, plus how to benefit from stronger copy.
And I always, always avoided making other copywriters think that I’m saying they’re shit. Bashing another copywriter? Not cool!
Here’s an example of a post on Instagram…
When it comes to copywriting, there are many myths, misconceptions, and misunderstandings. So I thought that’s the best place to start. Let’s bust some myths, let’s share some tips, and let’s explain what a copywriter does and how I can help business owners write better copy.
This doesn’t only clear any misconceptions but also educates followers so they can say, “Ah! So that’s what Rhonda does for a living” or “Oh, I need to book her!”
In the post in the image below, I shared some tips… right before Father’s Day.
Relevant topic. Relevant photo. Perfect timing. Great reach.
4. I shared proof from clients
I also showed some of the work I had done or what my clients were saying about the results they were receiving from my work. It’s a simple way to show that I’m good at what I do, that my followers can trust me and what I say, and that I go above and beyond to help my clients achieve their goals.
5. I stalked my ideal customer elsewhere
Online forums are the best places to start when looking for topics that boost social media engagement. They bring together people who share something in common or people who are going through the same thing. So I decided that in order for me to write better social media posts I needed to find out what people wanted to know. What do they care about?
The most vibrant and active communities provide me with themes and topics I can use in my conversations on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other networks.
So go on, jump on Google to discover more forums. Type the following terms:
(for example, forums+cars if you’re searching for forums about cars)
And then you can browse through to see what people are talking about. I’m sure you’ll find a topic you can address in your social media post.
6. I posted casual images and videos
From my notes gathered during my in-depth research, I had written down “Must take more casual in photos!!!!”
This was also something Sharyn mentioned during her Facebook workshop. She said from her experience as a Facebook manager for large companies, people love seeing real photos and videos. Not stock images. Real people doing real stuff.
Since then, whenever I shared a casual photo I saw greater social media engagement. And sometimes they would share in their own communities. They may not necessarily purchase from me right away… but it’s a good way to get my message seen.
Here’s another one I shared on Facebook…
I avoid using clichéd or overused material, and quotes, and I keep in mind that most people would see the image first, text later. So I make the photo relevant to the accompanying text.
Now I’m trying to do some YouTube videos. Here’s one on how to give a freebie with MailChimp.
7. I showed everyone that I’m human
People like to know that the person behind the social media account is real, has feelings, cares about them and has a good heart.
I share my good and bad news without making it too personal and without rubbing my wins in people’s faces, so to speak.
In the next post from Instagram, I show something from my personal life. A product I used for my wedding anniversary.
8. I asked followers to share their ideas
Giving the community the opportunity to open up is a great way to learn about their interests and needs while getting some social media conversation going. This is good for when I wish to bring changes or organise a seminar for them.
You can do this by asking followers or other people in groups to share ideas for both the brand and yourself as the ‘human’ behind the corporate account. Some examples of opportunities could be:
- You plan to deliver a presentation and you want to know what your audience would like to hear.
- You want to organise a giveaway and want to see what followers are into.
- You need to purchase a new office equipment and want some input.
9. I wasn’t afraid to post often
It’s true that brands should not annoy their followers, but if the brand is posting strong and useful content at least once a day, their ideal consumers would unlikely be thinking “not again!”. Don’t worry too much about losing those followers who were not going to buy or request service from you in the first place. They’re not your ideal customer.
Remember: many followers click ‘Like’ or ‘Follow’ for other reasons, such as to request information, enter a contest or to see your content during a certain period of interest. Obviously, they would un-Like and stop following once they no longer need you. Do not get discouraged.
Oh, and I also try to avoid going quiet for too long. I’m still testing to find out when’s the best time to post for greater social media enagement.
10. I tried to keep it short and simple
One of the worst things you could do is take readers down a long, long winding staircase to find your key message at the very bottom. Like Sharyn suggested at the workshop, I avoid the “See More…” link which appears when your Facebook post is too long.
I also made sure the words and images were easy to understand because only some of my followers understand the industry jargon.
I use Twitter as a guide for both Facebook and Instagram.
Unless, of course, I need to share some valuable, lengthy piece of information, event details and major announcements. I will try to keep videos short as well, keeping in mind that many followers are accessing on the go.
11. I watched the trends
I wanted to also be more proactive. I now actively watch what’s going on outside the brand to use events in a creative way. Just like when blogging about seasonal topics.
When I know that an event is approaching, I think about what I can post to piggyback on the key words (not keywords) people are talking about. My job would be to wave them over and show that I’m talking about it too. There, they engage with my posts.
I keep watch on what’s trending and use the buzz words or activities to my advantage. I subscribed to Google Alerts and also check what’s trending on Twitter and Facebook.
12. I educated, not sold at people
Through all the learning and discovery, I knew that unless someone is asking how to book my services, the best way to influence sale through social media engagement was to share bits of pieces on how customers can benefit from my services.
I also shared tips from other professionals. For example, when I attended a @Problogger event in Perth in 2014, I came home and blogged about what I learned.
The best thing was when tagged Darren Rowse (@Problogger) on Twitter. He reTweeted my post and sent 4x more traffic to my site!
You can do it too. look for an influencer from your industry.
So over time, since 2014, I’ve been getting a lot more social media engagement and conversion through mainly Facebook. Now I just need to keep at it and keep improving the quality of what I’m posting. I’ll also be focusing more on LinkedIn. Usually, I comment on other people’s posts. This often converts into work. I’ll see how I go with posting more of my own posts, and even blogging there as well.
And then perhaps write another post in 2017 now that I think I know what I’m doing, lol.
Photo by Giulia Forsythe/Flickr.com