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Friday, January 23, 2015

Top 5 Social Media Tips For Small Business

Social media is a great way to get the word out about your business. But if it’s not delivering results, take a step back and see if you’re following these best practices.

1. Communicate your uniqueness
Too many businesses are trying to be too many things. Instead, focus on what makes you unique and incorporate that into your social media strategy. That means communicating how your value proposition to customers is different from competitors, of course, but more importantly it means having a personality! If you’re building your business around your personal brand, don’t be afraid to let your real self shine through. And if your whole company is using social media, establish editorial guidelines and an editorial voice that feels real and has a personality that everyone on the team can understand and bring to life.

2. Stop selling
Just because you can sell doesn’t mean you should — or at least, don’t use social media strictly to sell. For example, I recently met with a real estate agent who wanted to be known as the go-to expert agent for his community. He feels he knows the community better than any other agent. He lives there, has a family, and is involved in the community through things like local youth sports. But when I saw his Facebook page, it was littered with images of available listings — and nothing else. Not one thing on his page demonstrated that he knew the community. Instead he demonstrated that he was an expert at uploading listings in his area — and any service can do that.

I noticed he was getting no engagement, so I told him stop thinking like an agent and begin thinking like a resident. For example, when he told me about the local yogurt spot that’s popular in his community, I told him that was a perfect opportunity to create a community “insiders” post. I suggested he take a photo of himself having yogurt and post it to Facebook asking for engagement from locals: “I love Jimmy Yogurt shack, my fave flavor is banana cream, what’s yours?” Then every fourth post or so, he could include a marketing message with an available property and explain why it’s great for that community. In other words, he can become the go-to expert agent by being the person who evangelizes the neighborhood rather than real estate.

3. Tell a story with images
Images are your secret weapon in breaking through the clutter of social media. Images are an incredible way to say a lot, quickly and easily, in a way your followers can easily react to. Multiple images and collages are especially great for saying a lot without words. For example, a baker could show me one image that actually contains four separate images: ingredients, the mixing, the finished cupcake, and someone smiling and holding a half-eaten cupcake. You get the idea. Images can tell a story. They’re also easy to digest, like and share. Think about how huge Instagram is.

4. Show us with video
People don’t have to imagine as much with video, so it’s another great way to communicate your uniqueness and tell stories while making content that’s super shareable.

Recently a bike store owner approached me about expanding his business and mentioned he was creating a blog to help show why they are the best at what they do. A blog is a great way for a business to drive site traffic, but when I went to his blog it was static. There were a few articles like “how to fix a flat tire on your mountain bike,” but it didn’t have regular updates that help drive readership and search engine optimization. He didn’t have the kind of content that differentiated their bike shop.

So I told him to shoot video. For example, take video of the workers in the store and tell me about them. I want to know the story and what makes them experts. Show off a bike designed for super diehards — not just recreational cyclists — so we can experience the skills and expertise of his team. But I also told him to keep it casual and avoid a hard sell.

“Here’s Jim who works in repairs. Jim, what’s the most common repair you have to make?” But then you might notice his sandwich is half-eaten and you ask him what he had for lunch. In other words, shoot quick videos that help show his expertise but also make him human and tell me more about him. Creating a human connection is a great way for potential customers to remember you. Imagine a customer who walks into the shop and says, “Hey Jim, I saw that video, great tip and by the way did you ever finish that sandwich?” That’s instant credibility – especially if customers are wondering whether he cares more about fixing bikes than finishing his lunch!

5. Do A/B testing
If you aren’t getting results, try experimenting with your content in a systematic and scientific way. Study your content and what seems to resonate, then try different variations and see what gets engagement. Remember to only try to test one “variable” at a time; otherwise you won’t know what’s making the difference.

@ganstamarcus