If you’re a business owner or use social media for professional purposes, you know what it’s like to battle for likes against businesses with huge marketing budgets, high-end photography, and large, engaged followings. This makes using social for things like advertising your business or building your personal brand both more difficult and more competitive.
In order to succeed in rising up the social media ranks without shelling out the money for an advertising team or social media manager, you’ll have to work smarter — although not necessarily harder.
Here are our suggestions for how to boost your professional self and your brand via social.
Know Your Audience and Understand Each Platform’s Nuances
Yes, using each of the “Big Three” platforms is essential to connecting with potential clients and customers, but each platform has its own algorithm and user experience. Understanding the nuances will make all of the difference for maximum reach and engagement.
Facebook tends to be the platform that many of us feel most comfortable using, especially GenXers. “On Facebook, content is king,” says Christine Burke, Social Media Manager for HerMoney. Burke says that Facebook’s algorithm is designed to reward accounts that consistently give audiences content that keeps them coming back for more. “The algorithm is designed to slowly roll out content bit by bit to your audience,” she says. “If your content is regularly engaging, Facebook will continue to show your content to a wider audience over time.”
On Instagram, engagement is king, Burke says. “The main goal of Instagram’s algorithm is to keep the user on the platform for as long as possible.” She suggests using Instagram as the “back stage” of your business or blog by showing your IG fans the day to day “real life” pictures of your hard work and hustle. Going to a big meeting that will be make it or break it for your start up? Keep your users updated with a fun IG Story to let them know how it all went down, good or bad. Did you just hit a major milestone at work? Snap a pic to commemorate the moment and share it to your feed.
And, Burke says, engage, engage, engage on Instagram and then engage some more. Take time to reply to every comment and message (as appropriate) as well as like the comments in your feed. Doing so will make your followers feel connected to your IG account, and they will feel like they have invested in your success.
Think of Twitter as “texting without cell phones,” says Burke. Twitter is a great place to share content regarding what you’re doing at the moment or breaking news related to your business model and it’s often the platform where you can resolve customer service issues quickly. “People like to feel like they can get an immediate response from a business or potential client and Twitter is perfect for real time interactions,” says Burke. She suggests setting your notifications to pop up on your cell phone so that you never miss a tweet from a fan or a client. And, again, make sure to engage with your followers at least once a day.
Stick to Your Message
If your company sells tacos, you can’t post mouthwatering Mexican cuisine on social one day, and a photo of your dog the next. Or, maybe you can, but you have to be deliberate about it. (More on that in a moment.) Sticking to your product and your company’s message is crucial to building a brand. “Think about why you follow an account that is similar to yours,” says Cynthia Johnson, co-founder of marketing and public relations firm, Bell+Ivy. “It’s because they inspire you, or they know the best restaurants. You need to have a core reason as to why people are following you. Remember your audience comes first.”
People appreciate consistent information that is true to your business model, so all of your content should share the same voice. But first, Johnson says, you have to decide what you want to say. This doesn’t mean your platforms have to be strictly business, but they probably shouldn’t be too random either. Your goal is to be organized and deliberate in what you post, so if you really want to share a picture of your dog with your business, just make sure it’s eating a taco.
Spend Time Curating Great Content
Johnson says people usually follow brands for two reasons: because they know you personally, or you are consistent in your brand message. If you find that people aren’t following you or liking your posts, both the quality and quantity of your content might be lacking, she says. Nevertheless, there are ways to earn those likes and increase engagement and reach with your audience.
Quality photos and videos are a key place to start. Would Anna Wintour let a low-quality, low-resolution picture run in Vogue? Of course not, and neither should your brand. Commitment to your brand may mean purchasing higher quality photo and video equipment to make your feeds look polished and professional. Take your high-res videos to the next level by teaching yourself a few basic photoshop skills — some apps that enable this, like Facetune, are free.
“People want to see you just as much as they want to see your work, so don’t be afraid to get a little personal and allow viewers to see who you are,” Johnson says. But be careful not to overdo it; not every great hair day belongs on your business profile.
Lastly, don’t be in the habit of posting content for posting’s sake, but if you have the time and bandwidth to grow beyond social media platforms, it can only help you. “To really take things to the next level, consider starting a podcast or writing a book which you can then promote on social,” says Jay Baer, president of digital marketing and consulting firm, Convince & Convert. Not only is it good publicity for your brand, it’s also a great way to communicate with your audience about who you are.
It’s Okay To Focus On Your Social Media Strengths
We only have so many hours in the day, and, in the absence of being able to hire a social media manager or expensive PR agency to oversee your company’s social, sometimes you have to put your efforts into where you shine. Are you great on camera? IG Stories might be a perfect place to expand and hone your business content. Do you have a large and engaged Facebook presence? Then by all means, spend your social media hours developing and curating content that will keep your audience informed (and connected) to your business. If you have a huge newsletter list, spend your time developing kick ass content that your readers consistently click on week to week.
And, if you haven’t already, consider starting a private Facebook group to further your brand messaging. In 2018, Mark Zuckerberg announced that Facebook will give priority to posts from “friends, family and groups.” In a statement last year, Zuckerberg said, “You’ll see less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media. And the public content you see more will be held to the same standard—it should encourage meaningful interactions between people.” A private Facebook group allows for “shared affinity,” a place where people want to hang out and engage, all centered around your hard work. In addition to stepping up your social media game in key areas and on specific platforms, creating a private group will further allow you to control the social narrative of your business.
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