7/2/17 • Five Ways to Make the Most of Social Media

(7/2/17) BELMONT, N.C. – Facebook. Instagram. Twitter. Pinterest. The list of social media sites keeps growing, as do their users. When you’re trying to keep up with the demanding responsibilities of business ownership, it can be difficult to follow social media’s rapid-fire trends. It can also be hard to figure out how to make it feel authentic.

So what’s a time-strapped business owner to do? Take a peek at our social media tips, which will help you maximize your social media efforts with minimal time investment and help communicate the same sense of authenticity that drives your in-person business:

  • Use Facebook groups to drive interest. For many business owners, setting up a Facebook page and maintaining it is taxing. And until you have a large number of followers, posting will seem like time not well-spent. So how do you increase your number of followers? Either join or start a Facebook group related to your business interests. Find a group or groups made up of people with a common, business-related interest. Run a restaurant? Join a group for local foodies. Have a consignment store? Join a group seeking local bargains. You’ll be able to connect people nearby who are interested in what you are doing and pass along information about your business in a manner that feels natural. There, you can prove yourself as a local expert and use the group for a variety of purposes: a focus group for new business ideas; advertising secret sales or services; brainstorming business strategy with other local entrepreneurs; and moral support. This will help to establish you as a community resource – and serves as great, authentic advertising.
  • Break into ‘ephemeral marketing’ with Instagram Stories. According to Kyle Wong, a Forbes contributor, marketing’s big move in 2016 and 2017 is away from the highly stylized images that pervade most content and toward more “real” (authentic) modes of communication. Platforms such as Snapchat are increasing in popularity. And while Snapchat is an option, many businesses still gravitate toward platforms with both permanent and ephemeral – or short-lasting – content. Instagram has a reputation for highly curated images, but their Stories feature allows you to create an image or series that disappears after 24 hours. As Wong points out, this feature is great for capturing live events, outtakes and behind-the-scenes material. It also allows customers and clients to look beneath the polished surface of a business, which many customers find appealing. This gives you a greater shot at attracting, and keeping, genuine followers.
  • Develop an authentic following on Twitter. Most business owners recognize that a significant Twitter following is a gold mine for brand promotion, but many people think that the only way you’ll get one is by being famous. Not so. One of the keys to increasing your followers? Consistent mentions. First, reach out to the brands and businesses that you respect. When they post an article or do something you approve of, tag them on Twitter in your response, and make it detailed and specific. Even if they don’t respond to you, lots of people who follow their account will see your name and may choose to follow you as a result. Also reach out to small businesses and lesser-known names as well because they are looking for reciprocal relationships and will be more likely to follow you. If you make a habit of respecting and promoting others, you’ll earn back quite a bit of that respect in the form of followers who appreciate your genuine approach.
  • Build a community with Pinterest. Many people use Pinterest to keep tabs on trends, kind of like a digital bulletin board. But, when it comes to business, the focus should be on promoting your community. First, follow brands and topics that you think encapsulate your business philosophy and focus. Then repin their posts into board categories that will give people insight into your business. Second, create a VIP board where you can post images of people using your products as a way of saying “thank you.” Third, always respond to comments; users like it when businesses engage with them. Finally, use keywords and hashtags so that content will be easy to find. All of these methods rely less on you creating new content and more on promoting and sharing the content of others, which means instant community and connection.
  • Bring your ideas to your network with LinkedIn Pulse. For most, LinkedIn has been the place to network digitally and to house resumes. But ever since the site opened up its publishing platform in 2014, it’s also become an excellent platform for content sharing. Lots of people, however, still shy away from what is a fantastic opportunity to connect their ideas with their network. Our suggestion? Write about one topic that you know well, and write about it using examples, images and statistics. This platform is the perfect place to share your unique expertise, and the advantage here is that your post will go out to all of your LinkedIn connections, which for many people is a different group than customers and clients. The most popular posts on LinkedIn – and the ones that get the most clicks, links, and shares – are the ones that focus on a “How To” topic and the ones that include several images. This is a great chance to hone your business’s voice and focus, and it’s an even better chance to show your network your visionary thinking and your knowledge base.

While social media can be time-consuming and intimidating, these tips will help transform it into a powerful tool in your advertising and marketing arsenal. In addition, the time you’ll save will allow you to focus more on speaking with people face-to-face. The value of that? Priceless.

Lyerly Agency’s President and CEO Elaine Lyerly and Executive Vice President and COO Melia Lyerly share their 35+ years of marketing, advertising, public relations and brand strategy experience with readers each month in a column published by The Gaston Gazette. See this month’s edition at http://bit.ly/2tLCk95.