If you're struggling to create content to post to social media, consider taking a step back. You don't want to get bogged down in trying to find that one post that is the funniest thing ever or has Earth-shattering information. Just start posting bits of what's going on with your business. Post consistently and post a variety of content. By having a diverse range of content, you'll appeal to a larger audience; each of us has different preferences: photos, data, videos, quotes. There's so much value in keeping your online communication light, conversational and ongoing - it's social, after all. Here are 11 starting points for you and further explanation below.
1. Advice: Give some practical tips to your audience. Nearly every industry has something that is relatable to the general population. It's a matter of finding out what tips and advice they'd value and providing those. Maybe try to come up with one every week for a consistent "Tuesday Tip" post.
2. Photos: Many clients I work with feel like they have to have a professional photographer come on site for a shoot in order to get a photo of a product or completed project to share. Not necessary. Just take a good quality photo with your smartphone and post it. And it doesn't have to be showcasing what your business offers. Take a photo of your employees, yourself, something that inspires you. This is your chance to humanize your business and get your audience to relate to your brand.
3. Specials: You certainly want to share when you have a sale or promotion; just don't constantly be overselling. The 80-20 rule suggests that 80% of your social media communication should be to engage with your audience, 20% should be to promote your business. That's only 1 in 5 posts.
4. A poll: This is a fun tool in Facebook, but you could also use it on other social media platforms just by asking for comments of user's choices. Have a poll to ask folks what's their favorite product you offer, when was they last time they were at your place of business, or even something unrelated to your business... it's just a fun way to engage your audience. Even better if you can tally and share the results.
5. Humor: Search for or create an image or meme that you find funny. Whether it's something related to your business or not, everyone likes to laugh and humor has been shown to help people connect with a company.
6. Articles: You should always be doing some research or at least light reading about your industry. When you find something that may be interesting to the general population, share a link to it on social media.
7. Videos: Take a video of your product line, your employees at work, your product being made, your store or office space, a workplace prank, anything really. Video tends to have greater engagement than photo or text posts.
8. A question: Do a little research about your audience. Ask them what was the last service they received from you (or a similar company) or what new product or service they would like to your business offer. Social media is two-way communication. Prompt your audience to talk to you by asking a question.
9. Industry News: Rather than share more articles, look for trends or headlines or other insights about your industry and share those facts or data. Just be sure to cite where you got that info from, or even better, provide a link to more information from that source.
10: Quotes: Quotes provide a lot of inspiration to people. Share a quote from a famous philosopher, a business or political leader, or even from one of your employees or customers. Making a visual out of it will result in greater engagement.
11: Reviews: You should always be asking your customers for reviews. Good or bad, reviews help you identify your strengths and weaknesses and ultimately, make improvements. When you get a great review or testimonial (either directly, or that you find on a review site like Yelp), share it on social media.
Below is a great infographic that explains how much a website costs. But to get straight to the point, websites average about $1000 to $2700, depending on what type of website is needed. To some this might seem incredibly reasonable, to others it may seem expensive. After all, there are online web builders out there for entrepreneurs to make their own websites without any coding experience. Or copy writing experience. Or design experience. Or marketing experience. Do you see where I'm going here? As with most things, you get what you pay for. Certainly for some business owners those web-building platforms are fantastic resources. I've seen some websites built by the small business owner him- or herself and they are fabulous. I've seen many that are really disastrous and possibly detract business.
Here are four reasons to hire a professional web designer:
1. Custom design
When you hire a professional web designer, you know that your site will be uniquely created to suit you and represent your business. A good web designer understands your business and its services or products. He or she collaborates with you to understand your goals for your website. Online site builders can be easy to use with drag and drop elements, but they often restrict your ability to change a selected layout, colors, fonts, graphics and other components. There can be a pretty limited scope of customization. A professional web designer is not confined to these restrictions.
2. Brand cohesion
Your website is a representation of your business; an extension of your brand. The way your site looks, how a user navigates it, the consistency of your brand's color palette and fonts, the amount of text vs. white space, and using graphics that represent your brand are critically important in building and maintaining your brand. A professional designer has a strong understanding of these concepts and will make sure that your website reflects you business voice, vision and brand while optimizing the user experience.
3. Quality copy writing
Have you ever been on a website and been shocked at the number of errors in grammar, punctuation, or even spelling? Not everyone has a solid writing background, and that's okay. It's not okay to assume that you can write quality copy for your business website. This is not to say that all web designers are great copy writers either, but generally if they're not, they know to bring a copy writer to the table for that portion of developing a site. No professional web designer wants to be associated with a website that has poorly written copy. Professional designers also understand Search Engine Optimization (SEO), which is a technique to improve your website's rankings in search engines. A lot of this technique is in your web copy.
4. Website maintenance
Contrary to what some believe, a website is never complete. Websites require ongoing maintenance to keep them current and relevant to their industry. With ever-changing technology, a webmaster must remain up-to-date and knowledgeable of trends in order for a website to remain successful. A professional web designer provides this maintenance to ensure your site is updated and fresh.
Check out this infographic explaining why a website costs what it does...
You know you need to market your business on social media. That's a given. But if you're stuck on where to start, or what exactly to do, you can start here: with the seven essentials for creating a social media marketing strategy. These are critical components of a successful social media marketing strategy. This visual sums them up, but I'll explain them a little further below.
1. Know your audience. This is so incredibly important. Knowing who you're talking to will determine what social media channel you use. Is your audience more likely to use Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, something else, a combination of these? Knowing your audience can also determine your message. Of course you're going to promote your business with your own voice, but messages can be received differently by different genders, age groups, professions. You'll want to craft your content and messaging to resonate with your audience.
2. Have a goal. What is your purpose in marketing on social media? To drive traffic to your website? To engage with consumers? To increase sales at your place of business? Maybe a combination of these? Understanding what your goal is will help you develop and share content in a way that's more likely to help you achieve that goal.
3. Make a plan. While social media is probably the most casual form of marketing, you should still have a formal plan in place. Determine which channels you'll be using and how frequently you'll be posting content. How can you incorporate images, video and information that will engage users? Consider developing a content calendar to ensure you're posting content consistently to the channels you'll be using.
4. Create relevant, shareable and consistent content. No one wants to see your posts that just state how great your business is. Talk with your audience. Be a good conversationalist. Explain how your product(s) or service(s) are needed. Ask users for preferences, feedback and opinions. Provide humor. Provide wisdom. Give them something they'll want to share.
5. Use video when you can. Users are ten times (!) more likely to engage with video than with other content on social media. Video can help users feel the story behind your brand, helping them better connect with your business. The human brain processes visuals 60,000 times faster than text (according to hubspot). That means you can pack a LOT more humor, education, emotion, and information in video-rich content versus text-heavy content.
6. Have your content link back to your website. Even if you're not an e-commerce business, give users and opportunity to connect with your website to learn more about you, your brand, your services or products. (If you still don't have a website, contact me! I know a gal.)
7. Track your results and refine your plan. This tip really connects with tip 2 - having a goal. How do you know if you're achieving your goal? Measure the activity of your business in every way you can. Look closely at your sales and how they relate to your social media content. Look at Google Analytics to see the data about your website traffic. See what type of feedback your getting from consumers both online and in-person and how it changes with your social media content. Make decisions based on what you discover. Perhaps you thought Facebook was your best best, but you're getting more traction on Pinterest. Perhaps your engagement is greater when you incorporate polls. Sometimes things surprise us. Really look for information you can pull and refine your social media marketing plan to increase your online visibility and engagement.