Consistently marketing your business is one of the most important factors in your part-time business’s success. Your potential customers can’t find you unless you let them know you exist, and your current customers won’t know about your new products or services unless you tell them!
Though it might not seem that important, social media has truly changed the world, and changed how we communicate. Social media has launched revolutions, ignited political movements, delivered breaking news, created new ways to connect people and interests, brought people together, and (of course) been used to both establish and market brands and businesses—from large to very small—and to sell products.
Social media is the most versatile and easy-to-use marketing strategy:
- It only takes a minute to create a post on any of the social media platforms.
- Repeat your content, or the text and image, across multiple platforms—easily done using an app such as HootSuite.
- On Facebook, you can to target the audience your post reaches (for a fee).
- Build your customer list with people who are predisposed to like what you are offering.
- Interact with current and potential customers in real time.
- It’s free, unless you choose to pay for boosting your post, or to place paid ads.
What social media options are there?
You are probably familiar with most of these social media platforms, but you may never have thought of them as potential marketing opportunities for your business!
Each platform has its own niche: its characteristics and audiences, and ways in which it can be used for marketing. LinkedIn, for example, focuses on business-to-business connections and marketing, Instagram on images, and YouTube on short or long videos. Take some time and look around each of these major social media platforms, get a little familiar with the setup and concept, and start thinking about what kind of posts, images, and messaging you can use to talk about your business, products, or services.
When you are starting out it can be hard to think up ideas about what to post. Make up two worksheets:
- A listing of post ideas (you’ll see our suggestions below)
- An editorial calendar: This sounds rather grand, but it’s really just a schedule for your posts. Create a simple spreadsheet, either on a computer or by hand, with the days of the week along the top, and your chosen social media platforms along the side. Write in what you will post for the next week, by day and by platform.
What kind of content can you post?
- Events information: Are you planning a sale?
- Special offers and discounts
- Facts about your business: Changes in hours, location, special events
- Testimonials: Let your happy customers help you sell!
- Successes: Highlight successful products or services
- Funny snippets from your life
- Your travels: Your readers will be interested in your travels, especially if they are related to your business.
- Your pets: Always fun!
- Stories about the area where you live
- Highlight your employees or coworkers
- Sneak peek photos
- Behind-the-scenes photos
- Product photos
- Photos of your products in use
- Interesting facts and history
- Previously used popular content: Some content lends itself to being tweaked and reused
- Inspiring, meaningful, or fun quotes
- Ideas for how to use your products
- Questions or polls
- Links to other interesting or useful content
Is what you’re posting:
- Helping your customers connect to you and your brand?
- Assist in explaining or promoting your brand?
- Enabling interaction with your customers?
- Using photos and images?
- Mixing promotional, informative, and personal content?
- Using a call to action (a gentle hint giving your customers an option to take action of some kind, making a purchase, calling for information, etc.)?
Once you’ve got your feet wet
- Check your analytics for each platform to see:
- What posts are popular
- What posts have resulted in calls, emails, or sales
- What days of the week, and what times of the day are the most popular for your posts
- Which platforms are most useful and popular for you and your business
- If posts with images are more or less popular than posts without
- SEO (Search Engine Optimization) each platform and each post as much as you can:
- Provide links for more product description, pricing, and information
- Use appropriate descriptive keywords
- Use hashtags for further description and as keywords
There’s lots of advice available about marketing and selling on each platform, by people who have made their living using a specific platform, or by marketing experts. Do some research, and use the suggestions that make the most sense to you.
Start slowly with one social media platform, Facebook or Instagram, for example. Get comfortable with it, and then add another platform to your marketing program.
If millions of people can effectively use social media to drive their businesses, so can you!