Jena McCulloch’s first company started out as a side gig. She credits influencer marketing on social media for helping her company, BLCK, an alternative charcoal toothpaste company, achieve global sales success before its one year anniversary.
Social media has become a necessary marketing platform for many businesses. Done well, you can gain new customers, enhance your brand, spread awareness, and connect with your customer base. Done poorly, it can generate negative PR for your business, lose credibility, and diminish trust with current and potential customers. The great news about social media is that it can be cost-effective and easy to use. Here are some tips on how to take advantage of social media and increase your sales:
Master one social media platform at a time
Take a look at your customer base. What are the demographics? What are their interests? Take some time and research where your customers and potential customers spend their time on social media. Once you have that figured out, master that social platform to your advantage. Many small businesses try to do it all on a high-level and get frustrated when they don’t see results. Let’s say you want to attract women aged 18-30, then Instagram could be the social platform for your brand. Create a business account, add your products to the page, reply quickly to questions/comments, share new products on IGTV, send instant updates on Instagram Stories, and post regularly. If you’re unsure of how to use the platform, try making a fake or test account to practice. This will help you gain confidence with the platform and in turn will grow your base, and help you gain long-term customers.
Plan it out
Mastering the tools and fully understanding how to use a social media platform is just half of the battle. The best way to increase engagement is to execute a well thought out social media strategy that aligns with your brand. What do you want to focus on? What is the right mix of content? You can plan out your Instagram profile using the app UNUM. This will provide a replica of how each post will look on your Instagram profile, and give you an idea of how your next post will align. If you want to get serious, think about investing your time into a social media scheduling app like Hootsuite, Loomly, or Buffer. These apps allow you to plan out your social calendars and will post on your behalf, and will also track the impact of each post to provide you with feedback on your activities. A small monthly investment could save you time, money and hassle.
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Take advantage of local and popular influencers
The best marketing strategy is positive word of mouth. Over 92 per cent of customers will believe a recommendation from a friend or family member over any form of advertising.1 Take twenty minutes to seek out a few ‘influencers’ online that you feel embody the values your brand and the community you want to connect with. Consider politely requesting feedback concerning a product of yours. Reach out with the intent to only start a dialogue, and soon enough you’re likely to discover opportunities to create value not just for your business, but also the community it wants to be a part of! If you form a positive relationship, ask if they will consider posting about your product. This will offer free word-of-mouth advertising and help you reach your target market more efficiently.
Take it one step further by offering a discount code that the influencer can provide to their followers if they purchase your products. This will help you track the success of your influencer’s activities, and offer the influencer an incentive to post about your brand.
Feeling overwhelmed? Ask an expert for help
Jena credits mentors with helping her navigate the growth of BLCK and recommends finding younger, digitally native mentors for information sharing. You can hire social-media savvy individuals on a contract or part-time basis to help you grow your social media presence. This could provide a win-win for younger individuals looking for professional experience, and help you focus on the other aspects of growing your business.
Social media can feel intimidating, but growth can be uncomfortable. Everyone starts somewhere, and you know your business better than anyone else. Once you learn the basics, social media can become just another key part of your marketing mix. Social media can be a great place to demonstrate your passion through stories, photos and videos, and connecting directly with potential customers.
1 yotpo.com, Word-of-Mouth Marketing: Building a Strategy That Really Works, June 2016.
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