How can you use social media to grow your business?
We caught up with Sinmi Adekola, Tide member, owner of Vera Beauty, award winning lash artist and trainer, and social media guru, to give her top tips on how to start, grow and maintain a social media strategy that will help you grow your business.
Firstly, can you tell us a bit about yourself and Vera Beauty?
Hello, Hello, Hello! I am Sinmi Adekola Owner of Vera Beauty, you’re not so ‘ordinary’ beauty brand.
A little about me, I started my first beauty business at 17 years old. Selling my own line of false lashes and cosmetics. I always knew the importance of social media in building a business, and after years of research I now understand how to truly harness its power. IT’S IMPORTANT. So I’m keen to share my expertise on how to build a brand on social media – the why, what and how, including the apps and resources you can use!
Why should small businesses use social media as part of their marketing strategy?
Did you know that as of January 2018 there are more than 4.2 billion people using social networking sites across the globe? It’s crazy to think that ten years ago the internet was still pretty new, now look at how it has revolutionised today’s world. You can’t go anywhere without seeing it in today’s modern society. Social media is a quick, inexpensive and highly effective way to reach your audience. It’s pretty simple too, if you know what to do. Here’s a list of the top uses for social media:
1. Increase brand awareness
2. Establish your brand as a thought leader
3. Display your brand persona
4. Increase website traffic & generate leads
5. Promote content & go viral
6. Work with influencers
7. Engage with your audience
8. Get brand inspo
9. Reputation management / reviews
10. Keep up with trends/news in your industry
11. Customer service & support
12. Building your community
What kind of businesses find social media helpful?
If you run a Business to Consumer (B2C) business, you need social media. If you are building a community, you need social media. If you have a message to spread, you need social media. The only businesses I feel may not benefit as much from social media are certain Business to Business (B2B) business – however, you are still selling to humans, and so it can be a case of choosing specific social channels, like LinkedIn.
So, how do you get started?
Firstly, you will need to have your brand guidelines together. It’s a HUGE part of your social media strategy, knowing the colours, fonts, tone etc you will use. If you don’t have this yet, go ahead and do some research on branding. Here are a few basic questions to ask yourself to work out your brand identity:
- Which three colours represent your brand?
- What is the ‘why’ behind your business?
- What is your brand personality/tone?
- Click here for a free brand board template for you to fill out!
It’s then time to think about the platforms that will work best for your business.
Each platform is created to share different types of content so although it’s tempting, you may not always get away with copy & pasting the same posts on multiple platforms. Here’s a simple break down:
- Facebook – Great for videos, pictures & adverts
- LinkedIn – Great for sharing stories/articles, conversation
- Twitter – A text based platform for conversation and sharing information in threads
- Instagram – A visual platform perfect for videos & pictures
When choosing a platform, you need to remember three things.
1. Where is my audience?
2. What content is relevant to them?
3. What platform can I use to add the most value?
For example, if you are selling trainers online, LinkedIn might not be the best place to try to market your business, whereas a visual platform like Instagram will yield better results. If you run a beauty business like me, again, sharing articles on LinkedIn won’t hit the three points above. My clients mainly use Instagram, they love seeing pictures of lashes, BTS (Behind the Scenes) and enjoy reading my value-filled captions & stories.
It’s important to note that you shouldn’t use all social platforms for the same purpose, you may post a lot of pictures on Instagram and then use Twitter as a customer service platform to speak to customers directly. However, think about your capacity, you cannot be everywhere, otherwise you risk delivering a watered-down version of your message in ten separate places.
Great. So once you’ve identified the right platforms, how do you go about setting up an effective profile?
Sherpa Marketing recently found that more people follow brands on social media than follow celebrities. On Instagram alone, 80% of people follow at least one business. If you can create a winning social media presence than there’s a huge opportunity to engage your audience and create a loyal fan base.
Once you’ve chosen your preferred platforms, sorted out your branding & identified your audience you need to set up your profile. Here are some rules for choosing a handle.
The KISS principle is a good one to live by when thinking about this.
I – It
There is no need to overcomplicate things, so keep it simple! Lets use my own handle as an example, which handle is easier to find & remember?
Choose a handle that is simple and keep it consistent across all the platforms you use.
Now your bio. This is the ‘first impression’ space in your profile, where you can let people know your name, location, what you do & more. You have a limited amount of characters so make good use of them!
Another example, which sounds better for a business coach?
Consultations in London
13 Years’ experience
[Followed by an email]
For 13 years I’ve helped business owners go from struggling to thriving! Email to book a free consultation in the heart of London! Click the link to visit my website
See the difference? Which one would you be more likely to engage with? Make that initial impact one to remember!
How do you then go about building a following?
This is probably everyone’s biggest question and the answer is clear. ADD VALUE. CONSISTENTLY.
Firstly, you need to do some research on what your audience would like to see, what topics peak their interest & their preferred style of content. If you tick all these boxes you will start to grow your following, but consistent growth comes down to consistency.
You may hear people saying you need to post 10x per day and constantly be on a content hamster wheel. This is not the case, I recommend posting 1-2 times daily on your feed and posting daily on your stories (Facebook/Instagram).
Like I mentioned earlier, you need to be adding value in any way you can. This can be through videos, newsletters, blog posts, infographics, helpful tips & more. Answer your audience’s questions, even the ones they didn’t know they needed answers to. Add so much value that it wouldn’t make any sense for them to go anywhere else!
Once you have a good social media following, how do you turn it into value for your business?
If possible, it’s great to build your tribe first before launching a business. This way you will have built a reputation for yourself, established your authority/ trust and have an engaged audience. You can start to tease your business idea or new launch to your audience over time whilst you get all the background work together.
BEFORE you launch, make sure your have everything together, Your website, branding, marketing etc! Conducting market research is crucial as you don’t want to launch to an audience that isn’t interested. This may be the case if you don’t bother to ask what your audience wants!
Maintaining a steady stream of engaging content will then help to cement your business in the mind of your audience, and lead them to consider you when making a purchase.
There are three key steps to maintaining your channels – PLAN, PREPARE & AUTOMATE.
Creating a marketing strategy for your business will make life easy for you. Plan out the types of content you want to share, design ideas, and your chosen platforms. Click here for a simple 30 day content plan, I follow this and switch it up for each month to include special offers, dates etc.
Using the 30 day plan you have just customised, take the day to sit down and write captions, blog posts and various hashtags you will use throughout the month. I recommend creating three groups of hashtags to collate the posts you are uploading eg. one for quote posts, one for pictures of your work/products and one for promotions/sales.
Now for the fun part, after a long day or two of working on your content you can use sites/apps such as Hootsuite or Planoly to schedule all your posts! This means you can have posts you’ve already written going out without you having to do anything. Pretty great, right?
Is it important to build a big social following to see the benefit of marketing through social media?
Don’t believe the hype, you could have 10,000 followers who aren’t engaged and never buy anything from you. Focus on engagement, not your follower count. I know businesses that have 6 figure revenues but only a couple hundred followers. Stay focused on delivering value, the numbers mean nothing!
Should you engage with your followers & reply to every comment?
In short, yes. If you only have 10 comments on a post are you really too busy to send a quick emoji or start a little conversation? If you have 100 comments try to reply to the first 10-20 and like the rest of the comments. Your followers are your community and you need to be engaging with them on a personal level. Make them your tribe and build a solid relationship with them! Be sure to reply and show some love on their pages too 👍.
If you would like to hear more from Simni, you can connect with her on her social media channels, @verabeautyuk