May 28, 2019

Social media marketing for newcomer entrepreneurs

This workshop took place over 2 sessions. The first session focused mainly on why and how to develop a strategic approach to your social media presence and marketing. The second dove into practical examples and approaches to using Facebook, Instagram and Twitter (identified by participants as their top areas of interest) and Google Business for small businesses.

In part one, we looked at:

  • Your functional digital presence
  • Presentation with some activities
  • Creating your strategy with the Digital Marketing Canvas

Your functional digital presence (summary):

  • Content marketing is king – quality & distribution
  • There has been a rise in digital platforms – be strategic about choosing your channels
  • Data means better targeting
  • Presence – website, social, consistent tactics
  • Understanding your audience is key
  • Access the free resources out there
  • Trial and error is important and OK

Social media for entrepreneurs – overview

Before you start using social media for marketing, you need to understand how each channel/platform is being used and become familiar with how to use them.

You don’t have a lot of time.

But, word of mouth is important for your business. These days, word of mouth means people talking about you offline and online. That means you need to have a presence online, in the channels.

What is social media?

It gives you a way to connect and build relationships with your customers. But it’s not a hard sell like advertising. I’m adding a long quote here from this site because I think it’s useful: “It’s a more nuanced form of marketing. A conversation. Some entrepreneurs think social media is just another channel you can use to talk about your business. And that’s the wrong approach. Social media is all about your customer and how you can help them. If you’re successful on social media, you’ll have an opportunity to interact with your customers one-on-one, deepen your relationships, and earn their trust even when they’re not on your site or in your store.

The first step is shifting your marketing focus from you to your customers. Step into their shoes and try to see the world through their eyes. They’re busy people. What do they need to get through their jam-packed days to accomplish the things they want to do? Ask yourself what social media channels they’re on and whether they want to interact with you there. Then map your customers’ pain points and figure out the kind of content you can create to help solve your customers’ problems when they need it.

This will likely include a combination of blog posts, videos, visuals, white papers, forums, and of course, social media updates that help amplify your content and build community. Once you understand your customers’ needs, you can start to figure out how to connect with them on various social media channels and develop your online brand personality. Social media marketing is a long-term commitment. So be sure you have the resources to maintain it.

The most important thing to remember is go where your customers are. Don’t make them come to you.”

Educate: Provide Value to Your Followers

As an entrepreneur, by educating your clients via social media, you can provide real value to them.

Start by making a list of questions people might have about your industry, product or service, along with social post ideas that could address those questions.

For all of these, you could create social images that display the information in a graphic or create a blog post and then link to the post on your social accounts.

Engage: Provide a Platform Where Your Followers Can Speak

Some of your followers will want to share their opinions and engage in conversation while gaining something for themselves —whether that’s an interesting piece of information, a prize or something else.

Focus on how you can best encourage engagement with your audience. For example, if you’re a computer company, your followers are likely technology fans.

Test out your high-engagement post idea. Look at the whole picture, including comments, likes, shares and clicks. Then, repeat this exercise with new content next month. Over time, you’ll figure out what engages your audience most and you’ll learn what works for them and for your business.”

To provide a first-hand perspective, I interviewed Gerard Keledjian, a successful newcomer entrepreneur:

To be strategic, we looked at the Digital Marketing Canvas. The Digital Marketing Canvas ebook provides a good overview of each section of the Canvas and how and why to use it.

This takes work to go through, which not everyone is willing to do. But I really tried to drive home the need to be strategic. Small business owners, in particular, simply don’t have the time to wasted on social media and generally can’t hire someone to help out initially. Taking the time up front to do some strategy work will mean your social media marketing approach will be the right one. Or else you’ll be posting to social media wondering why no one is reading, sharing, coming to your business, etc.

I encouraged participants take their business through the Digital Marketing Canvas process as part of their homework between sessions, with this scenario in mind:

Scenario: You are the marketing team

You want to use social media to raise awareness of what you do, offer or sell. You also need to spread awareness of your “brand” and what you offer to prospective clients and customers.

What’s your:

  • Mission: The company’s purpose and reason for being
  • Vision: The company’s long-term, aspirational business goals
  • Brand: Complete expression of the company that is being communicated creating an experience in the public, both rational and emotional

Here are my slides from the first day. There’s a lot in them focused on understanding your audience, being strategic, and more.

Additional resources from Day 1:

Participants had great questions and wanted to dive in. I suggested that they needed to learn more and take that strategic approach, as this workshop was really just a teaser. Here are some links I left them with.

Learning: via Toronto Public Library – there’s a richness of short and practical courses here, which library card holders (likely in other cities/regions as well) can access, all for free.

Google Academy for Ads – some were interested in Google Ads. I suggested checking out this learning resource from Google.

Useful social media marketing sites and resources, which have rich libraries of social media marketing information and articles for small businesses:

Some useful specific info for participants who talked about their business:

Day 2: practical social media

In part 2 we dove more specifically into some practical ways to use Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. We also looked at how Google Business can benefit them, in particular if they have a physical business location (like a store).

I found a really great Youtube channel, Five Minute Social Media – Jerry Potter. True to its name, the channel has quick video overviews of how to use social media for a small business, mainly focusing on Facebook and Instagram.

Here are some of the videos we viewed together and used as a springboard for discussion:

As we watched these starter videos, we meandered through his collection, based on the interests in the room. They’re really great overviews, Potter is approachable and clear, they’re really great videos. I found it easy to go through them with participants, pausing, replaying and discussing key points, adding my own experiences, and participants sharing theirs. Here are some more of the videos we checked out:

He also has a great Google Business overview:

We also discussed how they can use their smartphones as useful tools to create content and post directly to their social media channels. This video was helpful to participants:

For Twitter, we went through a pretty quick Twitter 101 using an article from Constant Contact:

  • Setting Up a Twitter Profile
  • A Simple Approach to Effectively Use Twitter
  • Twitter Search Basics
  • How to Use Hashtags
  • Using Images on Twitter
  • How to Create Twitter Lists
  • Twitter for Customer Service
  • Twitter for Brand Awareness
  • How to Track Progress with Analytics