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Let me explain
In the handmade / wood sign market, Instagram is massively dominant medium.
Everywhere you look you have these huge accounts posting AMAZING things that they're working on. Our feed is full other makers, competitors, and other people involved in our industry. We follow giant accounts that do huge resin tables, and others that have built massive enterprises and followings off Mickey Mouse merch.
Even within our own province there are multiple people with thousands of followers who seem to just be nailing their engagement with their audience.
So every day I would hit up instagram and try to emulate the strategies that all these people were employing. Then, I started paying for courses on how to grow our following and generate more engagement.
But it wasn't working.
Sure we were growing, but it felt like most of the new followers were just finding us through Facebook - and I knew that huge Instagram growth had to be wider...
The crazy thing...
You see, during this time I was following an Instagram --> Facebook strategy. Everything was posted to Instagram, and Instagram was where I spent most of my time. All posts were automatically sent to Facebook where they would naturally do significantly better!
Then we launched SticksAndDoodles.com
And everything changed.
In the crazy whirlwind of a launch, we completely lost the ability to pay attention to anyone else. The enormity of comments, shares, orders, questions, and website bugs put us straight into survival mode - just get things done, and in that period, we found we were spending all of our time on Facebook. In fact, you could say that the success of our launch was really based on the community that we had created over many years on Zuckerberg's platform.
And in that period, we realized, that by going Facebook --> Instagram, our Instagram started to see more engagement too. As we were more comfortable and confident on Facebook, we let our personalities, and confidence show more, versus our previous goals of just emulating others.
As a Small Business Owner you have a short supply of the time you are able to put into everything you do. And if you're like most of us, everything you do should be about creating profit, and streamlining your process. Given the huge amount of uses for each social media network, it is critical that your attention is on the platforms which can generate the most income.
One of first things to realize when beginning your journey into promoting your business on the internet is that you don't have to be everywhere, you don't have to post every day, and you don't have to have 1000 followers in your first month.
What you need, is a comfortable place where you can begin to share your business with the people who are genuinely interested in it. Social Media is an unreal opportunity to focus on brand rather than marketing, but it can be overwhelming knowing where to start.
We call this your "Foundation Platform"
Your Foundation Platform should be one you are most familiar with, and one where you know that customers exist. There is no wrong answer here. While everyone might tell you to run to Facebook, an experienced Twitter user will be more motivated and confident to build out their business on the blue bird.
In these early days you will be doing lots of testing on different kinds of posts and content to learn what resonates with your audience. It's much easier to do this somewhere you feel comfortable.
When I initially went to Instagram it was a minefield. I didn't know how to use the platform, I wasn't particularly good at photos or videos, and I had no clue how to build followers. But, I had told myself that this is where I needed to be to build our business, and I tried to do everything the platform offered, despite gaining very few if any sales in my first year.
Don't be Kyle.
When you decide to branch out to another platform, the first thing you should ask yourself is why? What specific features does that platform have that make you want to use it. Because followers, likes, and views, it doesn't mean anything if they don't help your business grow.
So what do you look for?
1. Is my demographic heavily engaged on this platform? A toy store targeting moms may not need to worry about LinkedIn.
2. Does the content I currently create transfer over well? A company that mostly posts text on Facebook may not feel comfortable with the image heavy Instagram.
3. Will this platform compliment what I am doing on my Foundation Platform? Social Media platforms are different, but many compliment each other well. You can for example use Youtube or TikTok's editing features to create videos for your other platforms which then can promote your Tik Tok channel.
If you're an entrepreneur then you need to always keep a tab on your brain. Stress, burnout, exhaustion, jealousy, all like to sneak up and bite you in the ass. But the fact is, that your goal is to build a successful and sustainable business, and you can do that without having 1 Million Followers.
In fact, if you look around your community, there are many local businesses that are highly successful with little to no social presence. I'm not suggesting going in that direction - most have had to work very hard to achieve that kind of reputation, and social media is a boost many never had at the time.
And if you think having a giant following is all sunshine think again. Many of the large accounts will tell you that managing the huge amount of messages, comments, and requests can be exhausting. Just because it all looks pretty in the posts, doesn't mean they don't get people ranting them out for not getting back to them fast enough.
The sweet spot, as with all advertising, is making sure your message reaches the right amount of people, be that 20, 200, 200,000 or 200,000,000. Don't stress about how you compare, focus more on how to create content that directly benefits the audience you already have, who are often the most interested and loyal.
Depending on your industry, it may not even be in your best interest to follow others. Unless there is some B2B aspect to your business, unfollowing a good chunk of other companies may significantly reduce your stress level online.
Stressing about posting is like stressing about what to say when a customer walks through the door.
No matter what comes out, you will always think of a better way as soon as its over.
So, what should you do?
If you're super passionate about lightbulbs, than use that passion. People will naturally be attracted to someone who is always excited about what they do, and as a byproduct you will often be viewed as an expert in your field.
Maybe you have a company full of people that don't take themselves too seriously. Why would you continue to post boring product descriptions, when the experience for the customer once inside is laughter, humor, and an overall happy place to shop.
Social Media is branding first, marketing second. Make sure your page shows customers the kind of experience they get with you. It will take the stress off posting, and will yield you better results.
There are apps on your phone that can tell you how much time you spend on each network. If you turn off some notifications, focus on where you're comfortable, have more fun, and ignore the stress, you may just find that time decreasing... by a lot!
The ironic thing is that more than any marketing strategy, the thing most valuable to your business, is your time. Reducing your time worrying about your online presence is a guaranteed way to increase your ability to grow your business.
So, instead of always being on social, try setting aside a specific time of day to go over comments, questions, and messages. In the #noattentionspan world of social media, many of these people have already moved on a second after interacting with your business, and a shocking number don't even expect a response.
So - to wrap this up, Ill share with you how I am taking these 5 points to improve my business online.
My homework this month is:
1. Focus on growing our Facebook Page by making sure our shop feature is fully integrated with our Shopify Website, and sharing more posts of the cool exciting stuff we do.
2. I am going to continue to funnel our general posting to Instagram, while using our Instagram Stories to show a little more of the production side of our business that we naturally enjoy sharing.
3. TikTok will continue to be used primarily as an editing app, but I am also going to experiment with doing short forms of these blogs on it to see if we can build some engagement.
4. LinkedIn will primary be used through my personal profile where we continue to use it to network with local businesses right here in Saskatchewan, and continue to build out content for the consulting side of our lives.
5. I have turned off notifications for likes & comments, and have an auto response on all messaging explaining that during certain hours we are working in the shop and sharing the time that we will be back online.
What platforms are working best for your business? Let me know in the comments and I'll do a follow up with some of the tips and tricks you're employing!
The Make It Awesome Blog
1. It let's you to build a solid foundation
2. You can focus on needs not wants
3. Vanity metrics & mental health
4. It's way more fun
5. You'll have more time, and make more money