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If you’re selling anything, you need people to know about it. That means you need to be online where potential customers are hanging out. In the year 2023, there’s a very good chance that place is social media.
While the social media landscape has changed a lot in the past ten years, it’s still one of the best (free) ways to market your business and make real connections with people who’ll eventually buy from you.
When it comes to social media, however, too many business owners make the critical mistake of spending all their time creating content. Then, they burn out after posting a lot for a few weeks. They don’t see any results in such a short time, and they declare social media a waste of time.
To make the most of social media as a business owner, you don’t need to rack up thousands of followers (although that helps over time) or go viral.
The trick is to use social media like a human being to find “your people.” Here are our top tips for using social media to grow a real audience that will actually want to make a purchase.
- Yes, post good content.
“Good” content is valuable to your audience. It inspires them, educates them, or entertains them. It’s consistent, relatable, and invites interaction. It’s not an advertisement; it’s a conversation starter.
Learning how to create good content takes time and practice. The good news is that social media moves so rapidly, no one will notice your mistakes.
Post more, experiment more, and learn what gets your current followers talking. Then, increase the volume. The most important thing you can do is learn how to get comfortable posting more frequently.
There’s a lot of attention lately on video content and Reels. Yes, posting video content and Reels will help your content get seen by more people. However, thousands of views don’t help sales if they’re from people on the other side of the world. Worry less about virality and huge reach, and worry more about connecting with the people who are actually in a position to buy from you.
2. Post with the right hashtags.
Think of hashtags like keywords or search terms. Let’s say you’re a farm with an e-commerce business. Your ideal customer is an older woman in upstate New York who wants to be connected with farmers, but who likes the convenience of home delivery. Try to get inside her head. She would probably search for terms like… #newyorkfarm #farmhomedelivery #beefribsrecipe #seasonaleating etc. Use those hashtags when you post.
Use at least one hashtag from each of the following categories when you post:
- Broad: Big bucket category of your content (e.x.: #smallfarm #farmlife #sustainablefarming #grassfed #humanelyraised)
- Content-niche: This category has the most leverage. These hashtags are highly specific to the piece of content you are posting. They explain what’s in it. (e.x. #grassfedsteak, #localmeat #loyaltosoil)
- Location: To crack into a local marketplace, tell the algorithm where your audience is. Tag your region, state, county, and nearby cities. (#upstatenewyork #albany #albanynewyork #troynewyork #albanycounty)
- Identity: Tell the algorithm who the content is for: (#meatlovers, #homecook #locavore)
- Branded: You can start using branded hashtags that are unique to your business after you have your 1st 1k followers.
3. Look at who’s following your competitors.
If there’s a successful farm down the road or in the next county and they have a following on social media, go check it out. Click on their profile and click on the list of followers. Every single one of those accounts is a potential customer—if they like what your competitor is doing, they might just like what you’re doing, too. But it’s not enough to lurk—engage! (see below)
4. Talk to new people.
Don’t just wait for people to visit your profile—actively seek them out and start conversations. Set aside 20 min/day to do this type of “community engagement.”
Again, be a real human. Don’t think of this exercise as marketing torture. You might be trying to build a business, but you’re a real person who’s curious about other people, too. When you find the profile of someone in your community who might be interested in your product, like some of her photos. Don’t just drop a heart emoji, leave a thoughtful comment. More thoughtful interactions will make her more curious about you and more likely to check out your page.
5. Repeat, repeat, repeat.
Building an audience does not happen in 30 days or even 60 or 90. Social media is a long-term strategy that requires a consistent investment of time, energy, and thoughtful humanness for more than just a few months.
If you post valuable content, and if you show up in a friendly way to start new conversations, and you do it for months consistently, you will win this game.
So, is social media worth it? Is it a time suck? It depends on how you use it. Set a timer for your daily use, follow the five tips above, and make this powerful tool work for you.