Social media – it is everywhere!
When it first launched it was just seen as a passing fad but now it is a firm part of people’s daily lives and a great business tool. But how do you use it for business? Where should one start? And what on earth is a hashtag? Never fear help is at hand! In this month’s blog we cover all those questions and more in order to help make your social media sizzle.
Guest post by Pia Cato
Why should I use social media for business?
It is a great way of promoting your business, creating awareness and interacting with customers in real time. The last part is key in using social media.
There are so many social media platforms, does my business have to be on them all?
No, your business does not need to be on all the platforms. In fact I strongly advise that you don’t sign up to all of them at first. You will notice companies that have been around for a while seem to be on them all but new businesses starting out are choosing which platforms they want to be seen on very carefully.
Do social media platforms all work in the same way?
Each platform is slightly different, attracts a different type of crowd and promotes a different type of interaction. There are various analogies when it comes to social media which I had put into a handy little table below.
How to speak
|Facebook Pages||Bumping into someone in the street||Take a look at my cake|
|Facebook Groups||Being part of the family||I like cake, we all like cake|
|Attending a cocktail party||I talk about #cake|
|Being arty with photography||I take photos of cakes and add cool filters|
|A digital scrapbook||Here are collection of cake recipe, cake styles I like, my cakes, items that complement my cakes.|
|Being in a business meeting or at a conference||Skilled in cake making, I can help you by….|
|Snapchat||Teenagers safe place (though the demographic is changing)||Look at my cakes quickly, here is a snapshot into my life and me making/decorating cakes.|
|Periscope & Facebook Live||Video calling but without seeing the other person’s face.||Watch my live broadcast of me talking about a cake I made/decorated.|
|YouTube||The internet’s TV channel||Here are some tutorials on making cakes|
What on earth is a hashtag and why should I use it?
You may have noticed quite a few hashtags (#) on social media. Pretty much every platform uses them, and the reason they do, it makes the word searchable. So if you are wanting to talk about /or promote birthday cakes, add a hashtag, i.e. #BirthdayCakes, if want to talk about business add a hashtag, i.e. #business. Each platform has a different way of using them but as a rule of thumb keep hashtags to a minimum on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn but go all out on Instagram and Pinterest.
Top Tip: If you have a Mac the hashtag is hidden in a shortcut – simply press the ‘alt’ key and the number ‘3’ key at the same time, and voila a # will appear 🙂
What should I post?
As you are joining social media for business purposes it is important to keep this in mind. If you want to share pictures of what you made for dinner sign up for a personal account. As you get to grips with the different platforms you will start to develop a style. For instance my
Facebook and Pinterest pages for Vanilla Pod Bakery are all about weddings, wedding cakes I have made, wedding news, wedding suppliers and testimonials from my wedding clients. My Twitter page is slightly different, I share pictures of other cakes I have made, include a little bit about me and join in on trending conversations. LinkedIn is purely business, however I incorporate both Make Money With Cakes and Vanilla Pod Bakery. Then on Instagram I have two accounts, one for Vanilla Pod Bakery which is mostly wedding cakes I have created and a more personal one which shares bits of my life, items I like, reposts and networking events I attend. Check them all out to see how I use them.
How often should I post?
This is completely up to you and your business. However, once you do start it is important to post regularly. I would start with one or two posts per week and build it up from there if you feel the need. You don’t want to overwhelm yourself in the beginning stages and increase your workload tenfold.
How can I fit social media in with my day to day life? How much time should dedicate to it?
This is always a tricky question as people always say they don’t have time. But I say take the time to develop it and turn it into a habit. I suggest creating a weekly or monthly schedule. Type it up or write it on a piece of paper add it to your diary, then set little reminders on the days which you decide to post and create the content. Alternatively they are a range of great tools out there to help you automate this process but that is for whole different blog post.
I am afraid of putting myself out there and going public, what if I say something I shouldn’t or make a mistake?
I always say if you wouldn’t say it to a person face to face, don’t put it on social media. Saying that things can always be deleted but just think before you post. The first couple of posts always feel the most scary but it gets easier over time and remember you are doing this to promote your business.
Now I bet you’re thinking, this all sounds great but at the end of the day does it work? Do you get sales? And How long does it take?
Social media does work and does bring in customers but like any marketing activity it takes time. You’re there to educate, interact and build potential customers trust, so get to know what type of content your potential customers like. Do they like video? Wordy posts? Images? Giveaways? What motivates them to interact with you and your business? Always have your end user in mind.
Ok, so I now understand the basics, what do I do next?
Start with a strategy. Like everything you want to do effectively you need a clear strategy. Write down the goal or goals you want to achieve. It could be to raise brand awareness, network with key industry players, create an email list, sell one cake per month or encourage people to sign up for a consultation. Then research where your target customers are hanging out. Monitor the platform first and check out how users and businesses are interacting, what they are promoting and how they are talking. Then dive in and go for it!