When it comes to Social Media, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. This is something we firmly believe in at Digique, which is why we’re always keen to sit down with clients to discuss their business, what platforms will work best for them and how much time they can commit to social.

However, when Girl Tribe Gang approached us to host the first Power Hour within the Harrogate Tribe, it got us thinking about the ways in which small businesses and start-ups can utilise social media in the most basic sense of the term to drive sales, build a community and develop brand recognition.

Our founder, Amanda, led the discussion in a Q&A style at Harrogate Everyman on 10th January and we were absolutely blown away with the response.

Here’s a run-down of what we discussed throughout the evening, including tips on how to win at social media marketing… even if you’re a one-woman show:

Social Media for Beginners

Find your target audience

  •      Who are they?
  •      Where are they?
  •      What content are they engaging with?
  •      What platforms should I be using?

Amanda suggests using Google Analytics to see who’s coming to your site, where they’re coming from and what their demographic is. By identifying trends in analytics, you can dramatically improve your social strategy.

It’s also a great idea to research your competitors by looking at their website, their social media presence and what type of content their audience are identifying with. By using tools such as Facebook Insights, you can actually add in your top competitors and see how your page compares to theirs in terms of posts, engagement and followers.

We spend a lot of our time researching hashtags on Instagram and Twitter, as these can also help you to find and reach out to your audience. Select a few key hashtags for your brand and follow them. Look every day to see who else is posting about that particular hashtag, what their content looks like, what engagement they’re getting and how you can improve on your own work.

An interesting question was asked about which social platforms to use. This is completely dependent on your business, and it’s also important to bear in mind that the tone on Instagram is completely different to LinkedIn. However, we always believe that if you’re going to do something, you should do it well. So instead of spreading yourself thinly across Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest etc, pick the best two platforms that you believe would work for your business and do they very well.

Plan your content

We had some great discussions around this theme, which served as a reminder that most people in the room were just beginning their social strategy.

One of Amanda’s top tips is to create brand pillars for yourself before you begin creating content. It’s pivotal to think outside of the box when it comes to your brand, because the last thing you want is for your Instagram account to serve as a billboard for your business. We wrote a great blog post about this here. Whether you work with flowers or run a coaching service, there’s so much more to your brand than that one area. Take some time to think about what your brand believes in, what’s important to you, and how you can weave this into your social media feed.

With these brand pillars in mind, Amanda suggests finding curated content to fill up your feed before you invest in your own photographs (which we all know can be very expensive and time consuming for small businesses).

A great question came up at this point – what is curated content?” In the most basic sense, this means sorting through images on the internet (we love Pinterest) to find images that resonate with you and your brand, match one of your pillars or speak to your audience in a way you would like to yourself. Of course, we do not mean stealing other people’s photos, but by using other people’s photos and crediting, you are showing people that you value their content whilst giving them a wider reach. It’s also a great way to build relationships with influencers on Instagram in particular, and it something Digique do on a regular basis.

“What about reposting”, we hear you ask?

There are apps that ‘repost’ content with a little tab in the corner to let others know that this is not your image. This is another way that you can curate content, but personally we feel that this sometimes detracts from the beautiful image. In most cases, we screenshot a photo we like, write our caption and then both credit the author and tag them in the photo. A lot of the time we ask influencers over Instagram if they will allow us to use their content, which is a great practise to get into if you’re worried about not using your own images.

A word of advice: Don’t use someone else’s photo to sell your product or service. We use curated content to accompany a thought-provoking post designed to encourage engagement, conversation and value to our feed – not to sell our services. For the latter, it is best to create your own image in order to be authentic.

When it comes to planning the content itself, here are some tools we recommend:

Unsplash – For great-quality, free photos that you don’t have to credit.

Instagram – For amazing photos you admire from accounts you follow (P.S. always tag and credit).

Pinterest – Always a favourite for a wide variety of incredible images. When possible, we always follow the photo we like back to the source (e.g. a blogger or website), but if you can’t do this, tag @pinterest in Instagram)

Another question we had was “What about inspiration quotes – and where do we get them from?”

We love an inspirational quote as much as the next person, and some great places to find quotes you like are in books, on Pinterest and on Instagram. However, if you really like a quote, we’d recommend creating the image yourself using your brand colours. It’s easy to screenshot and share, but if you can use your logo and brand colours to create a simple square with the quote and the author, then this will reinforce your brand, your values and your images.

A great tool to do this with is Canva – it’s free, and comes with great templates that you can simply drop your own text into. No Photoshop skills required.

Set measurable goals

Once you’ve chosen what type of content to post, you need to plan it out. We have no idea where we’d be without our trusty content calendars and scheduling tools (well, we do… we’d be posting client content 24-hours a day and eventually end up like this 👹, so here are Amanda’s best practices for planning out your social media content:

What are your goals?

  •      Blog traffic?
  •      Grow your audience?
  •      More email subscribers?
  •      Drive more sales?

Each of the above will probably be a ‘goal’ at some point, but you need to go about them in different ways.

If you’re looking to grow your audience then you might look towards social competitions to bring new eyes onto your feed and attract new followers.

If you need more email subscribers then perhaps you’ll offer snippets of what your emails contain on your Instagram Stories to entice people to sign-up.

If you want more blog traffic then think about highlighting your latest blog posts in the grid and adding the link to your Instagram bio, encouraging others to read it and offer their opinions on the topic.

Driving sales might be your ultimate goal, but a rule of 80/20 is often advised on social media (talk about your brand 20% of the time, and provide thoughtful, interesting and engaging content for 80% of the time). To drive sales, you must grow your community, encourage conversations, become recognised amongst your audience and then you can drive people towards your website to offer more of the amazing kind of content that they see on Instagram.

Scheduling:

As previously mentioned, without scheduling tools we – as social media managers – would be sat at our computers, day and night, posting content. As a small business owner, this is not only impossible, but it’s also unnecessary. Arm yourself with these scheduling tools and you’ll be one step closer to winning at social media:

  •     Buffer – Create your content calendar in Excel and then upload your Tweets, Facebook and Instagram posts in Buffer ahead of time. We always schedule content a week ahead, so if you can get into this practice then you’re already winning by the time Monday rolls around.
  •     Planoly – This is the tool to use for Instagram scheduling. Simply choose the photo you want to post, upload it, add your caption and put in the scheduled time. Planoly will notify you when it’s time to post each day, and with your caption written and ready to go, it’s a case of copy-and-post. Planoly also lets you organise your ‘grid’, so if you’re looking to create one of those visually pleasing Instagram accounts, this is a great place to start.

Manage your community

We always say that posting your image isn’t the end point… it’s the beginning. What happens once your image is life is the most important as this is when your community will like and comment on your photo (hopefully!), and it’s through this process that conversations begin.

We always spend a good amount of our time clicking on the hashtags we’ve used to see what other people are posting, and liking relevant images that we do, in fact, like. It’s incredibly important to be authentic, so we wouldn’t go through and like images for the sake of it, but if you’re engaging with people whose images you like, you will drive people to your own page and if they see value, they might engage with you too.

“Should I follow people back?” – We’re not of the opinion that you should follow less people than follow you – the more people you follow, the more varied your news feed will be (which we think is great!) However, if someone follows you and you either don’t resonate with their content, don’t like their message or don’t think they’re ‘real’, then by all means you do not have to follow them back.

“Should I delete weird comments?” – We all see those bot-like comments: ‘Follow me to gain 1000 followers in the next 10 minutes’, etc. Engagement is important on your photos, but if it’s non-genuine, bot-like behaviour, frankly we’d rather have a lower engagement. In this case, we would most likely delete such comments, but if you do think it’s a real person offering a service, feel free to reply to further determine their motives and go from there.

“Should I start a Facebook group to grown my community?” – We love a good Facebook group – much like Girl Tribe Gang Member’s Facebook Group, it’s a great way to connect with like-minded individuals and create a little social community. If you have time to keep up with the group, start discussions and truly engage the members then we think that this is a fantastic idea. If you feel like you’d struggle to find the time, then as before we’d recommend finding a platform that you can truly dedicate your time to and do it really well.

Social Media rules to live by

NEVER:

  • Buy followers
  • Be overly promotional
  • Ignore the power of captions
  • Misuse Hashtags

ALWAYS

  • Manage your community
  • Embrace storytelling
  • Measure activity & growth
  • Use Stories & other new features

Things to remember

  1. Social media is a communication platform, it’s not a billboard for your product or services. Yes, your end goal may be to send people to your website and make a purchase, but you’re not going to get that if you’re posing 7-times a week ‘buy this now’. It doesn’t encourage followers to buy into your brand, and it certainly doesn’t spark a conversation. Try to stick to the 80/20 rule, and always keep in mind that people are following your brand because they find it interesting/engaging/exciting/all of the above – not necessarily because they’re going to buy a bouquet of flowers for themselves 365 days a week. Sales will come, just give it time.
  2. Posting on Instagram is about telling a story, so always bear this in mind when you’re putting together your captions. See All That Is She for some fabulous examples of how a caption can transform an image (despite the fact that her images are always on point in the first place). Take your followers on a journey, and they just might end up in your virtual shopping basket.
  3. Last but not least, always ask yourself this one question: “Is this relevant to my audience?”

One of the questions asked at Power Hour was whether or not you should share photos of your personal life on a business page. The answer is that it depends… If you are a corporate business with a logo, we’d say no – keep the dog on your personal page. However, if your business is your name (or you feature yourself regularly and that’s who your audience resonates with), then yes – post the photo of your dog because it’s relevant to your life and personal brand.

A huge THANK YOU to everyone who came to Power Hour with Girl Tribe Gang. We had a fantastic evening and it was wonderful to put a face to so many handles we see on Instagram! We hope you gained some great tips from Amanda’s chat, please do sign up to our newsletter for a monthly refresh on all things social media and if you do have any questions feel free to DM us on Instagram.

Don’t forget to check out our latest campaign – Truth or Square – to keep things real on social media.