What can be learnt from brands and Entrepreneurs?
I’m old enough to remember the days before mobile phones and the Internet. Passing notes across the classroom, sending printed photos with my letters to pen pals and sneaking up to my parent’s bedroom to make long phone calls to my friends was as good as it got.
In the 20+ years I’ve spent in media, marketing and communications, I’ve seen a lot of change.
I remember entering long, crazy URLs on a high school library computer to access articles on the Internet in 1996 and the joy at discovering chat rooms soon after.
It’s unfathomable now that social media, accessible via a device we carry around in pockets and handbags, was not always available.
Social media is impossible to ignore
Do you remember where you were when someone suggested you join this new online community called Facebook?
I had arrived back at work from my honeymoon in 2007, to colleagues urging me to sign up. I remember the high of connecting with old friends, even some I’d been unable to track down to invite to my wedding. I was living overseas at the time and this connection with home was incredible. It was quickly known as Crackbook for good reason.
The rapid development and integration of social media into our daily lives since that early version of Facebook can only be described as awe-inspiring.
Smart phones mean we can access people, communities and information whenever we desire and with built-in cameras means we can create and update content at all times.
It’s addictive and time-consuming
If you’ve watched Netflix’s The Social Dilemma, you’ll know just how valuable the addictive qualities of social media are as a revenue-making machine.
The more time you spend online, but more impressions and data you’re providing for advertisers. The nature of algorithms and notifications, plus the sheer amount of things you can use your phone for now, means for many of us, our phone is never far away.
As a Marketer, Entrepreneur or business owner being able to access and target current and potential customers and clients has opened so many doors. We have both responsibility and opportunity.
Large brands have teams and dedicated social media managers, agencies and significant content marketing and advertising budgets. There are WIP meetings, budget planning meetings and fancy events to draw content from, plus use to gain additional reach and exposure from. So where does this leave Entrepreneurs, start-ups and business owners?
Figuring out where to find your target market is the key to where you should spend your time
Regardless of the size of your business or marketing budget, it’s important to do your research. Even the largest brand will not try to reach everyone.
After over 15 years working as Journalist, Account Manager in the magazine publishing industry and Communications Manager I began working with small business owners, Entrepreneurs and start-ups. I’ve recently been teaching a Social Media Marketing course to mums in business, and what I’ve seen firsthand is the struggle. Here are a few things to bear in mind:
- You can’t be everywhere
- Focusing on your strengths is vital – outsource what you can
- Experiment – Try new things, don’t be afraid to fail – embrace what you learn
- Pay attention to analytics – Which posts were most popular? What converted?
I see so many business owners and marketers panicking at the amount of work involved with producing ongoing content for a host of social media platforms – on top of updating a website, email marketing, networking and traditional forms of advertising – and of course other tasks if you wear many hats.
I have also felt the same whirlwind. The panic. The need to be a graphic designer, master copywriter, tech expert and community manager and digital advertising sales expert.
There’s a lot to master and stay on top of.
Here is what I’ve also learnt.
Branding is worth taking time to define
Sometimes we find ourselves in a whirlwind, either as solo business owners or as part of a large team due to branding that is not capturing the correct customer.
Taking time to understand your brand values – really honing in on what you stand for helps you to articulate who you’d like to align yourself or your team with moving forward.
Sometimes it requires a clean slate. An audit of current clients, processes, inefficiencies.
And that’s all before redesigning your brand colours, logo perhaps, templates and website to showcase this vision.
What do you need to consider when re-evaluating your brand?
- Identifying your brand values and purpose – what you stand for, and what is driving you
- Your brand vision – where do you want to be in 5 years’ time?
- Who are you wanting to attract and target? It may not be who you are currently working with?
- Messaging & tone of voice – What are the key messages you are wanting to express, and would you like a corporate feel or something more personal or offbeat?
- Brand look and feel – does your logo need a refresh? Or do you need to focus on using different colours
Developing a content plan will save you time
While it can feel counterintuitive to take time out from social media, and delay posting content, planning will save you time in the long run.
Planning a social media content strategy should include:
- Getting clear on who you are targeting
- Identifying which social media platforms and approaches will work for your target audience
- Working out content required – think custom-designed templates, images, video, copywriting, reels etc.
- Hashtag research – if Instagram is part of your marketing mix
- Researching which scheduling tools you will use or if it makes sense to set aside time for manual posting
- Setting aside time in your calendar to engage with your followers via your channels and theirs.
Be social on social media
Social media is about being social. It can be easy to forget this when we’re focusing on building a business and reaching our personal goals. However, if you expect your followers to pay attention to your messages, you’ll need to take an interest in their content also. How much time do you spend liking, commenting and sharing your follower’s posts? If you show you care, your followers are more likely to care about your content too.
Making your content work for you
It’s easy to post inspiring pictures and captivating content, but make sure you also focus on content with a purpose in mind.
Ask yourself what you want someone to do when seeing your content.
Some posts are perfect as brand awareness. Other posts will allow your audience to get to know, like and trust you.
A selection of posts should also include a call to action. Make sure your audience can easily take the next step. This may not be buying from you initially – it could be reading a blog article, downloading a guide or signing up for a webinar.
Ensure your social media content supports your wider marketing strategy, so who you are and what you stand for is clear, and it supports any paid advertising you do, publicity or partnerships you’d like to build.