We’re back with another edition of Ask the Expert! This new blog series aims to answer the most common questions that we receive from new or prospective entrepreneurs. On today’s edition, we feature Rick Tanton, Strategy and Media Consultant with Loyal Order.
Social media and marketing is critical to the success of most businesses. We often hear new business owners and entrepreneurs ask questions about which social networks they should use, how much to spend on advertising, and even how often they should post. So we asked Rick, what are the five most common questions you hear on marketing and promoting a businesses online through social media?
In this blog post:
- 1: What should I post, and when should I post it?
- 2: Which social networks should I be using?
- 3: How do I get started with advertising?
- 4: How much should I spend on advertising?
- 5: How else can I find new customers?
1. WHAT SHOULD I POST AND WHEN SHOULD I POST IT?
A business’ social media strategy often involves posting overly promotional things to start, then stopping when they don’t see an immediate boost to their business. But think of it this way – nobody wants to hang around that self-congratulatory person who can’t stop talking about themselves.
What you need is a content strategy – a plan that lays out:
- What you’ll post
- What day and time you’ll post it
- Most importantly: Why are you posting it?
The last point can’t be overstated: Every single thing you post should have a reason it was posted. A goal you have in mind – maybe you want people to like and comment, maybe click a link, or maybe watch a video. Only by knowing what your goal was are you able to decide if the post was successful or not.
Then dedicate yourself to sticking to your plan, posting when it says you should, and setting time out to engage with people and respond to their comments and questions. There are templates you can find online, or feel free to email me for mine if it’ll help.
2. WHICH SOCIAL NETWORKS SHOULD I BE USING?
Starting a new social media strategy for your business is already hard, and I never recommend making it harder by learning new networks on the job. When you start, use the social networks you
already use personally and that you’re already familiar with. For most people this is going to be Facebook. Then, once you’re dialed in, start adding those you’re curious about or interested in. But for a bit of a primer:
- Why use Facebook? Just about everybody is there, and when you start ads, their targeting is exceptional.
- Why use Instagram? If your company translates well to images and video, and you have the ability to create beautiful content, this is where people want to see that content.
- Why use Twitter? If you’re in a niche industry that already networks and communicates here, or your company needs to be there to support clients.
- Why use LinkedIn? If your product or service is B2B (business-to-business) in nature.
One alternative I often recommend on LinkedIn is, instead of posting from a company page, using your personal account to network and engage with your connections. By doing so you will help build your personal reputation, and by extension, that of your business.
3. HOW DO I GET STARTED WITH ADVERTISING?
Never has the adage “fake it until you make it” been more accurate than here. There are really two ways to go about it, and both have benefits:
- Just dive in and do it yourself. Try boosting a post and playing with the targeting, you’ll find it’s very robust. Are you trying to reach people who live in an area, or just those who are in the area? Does it matter if they’re married? Have kids? Commute? Like a sports team? It’s all there, and the best way to learn it is to test a small boost with a tweak to your settings, then comparing the results. Facebook offers an overview of how boosting works on their advertising help centre.
- Hire an agency to run your ads, then learn all you can from them. If you create an ad account and give the agency access, you’ll have the ability to see everything they’ve done – what campaigns were run, how they targeted, the images and text that worked, and more. After a few campaigns you’ll likely have a good understanding of what works for your business, at which point you may still decide to let the agency do it and focus on business growth, or take it over yourself with everything you’ve learned.
Again, there is no shortage of content online to guide you in getting started if you don’t want to make it up as you go. Do a Google or YouTube search, or email me for access to some presentations on how to get started in social and search ads.
4. HOW MUCH SHOULD I SPEND ON ADVERTISING?
Like they say – “how long is a piece of string?” There’s no right answer for all businesses to this question, as companies who sell $20,000 cars can certainly afford to spend a bit more than an Etsy shop selling $10 baby bibs. The real answer starts with what success means to you. Do you have a product you sell? A service you provide? Start with how much you make from each sale (this is often called a Conversion, meaning you’ve converted a prospect to a sale).
- Conversion Value: You sell widgets for $5, and each widget costs you $1 to make – this means a conversion is worth $4 profit to you.
- Cost-per-Acquisition: This means you don’t want to exceed $4 per sale, or $4 cost-per-acquisition (CPA).
- Return-on-Investment: Run some ads, then compare how many sales you got. For example. you spend $100 on a weekend campaign, and you notice an additional 20 sales. This means each sale cost you $5, which is more than you make from a sale.
In the example above you paid $100 to make $80, netting you a loss of $20. That on its own wouldn’t be a great campaign, but you’ll likely have some things you’ve learned and can change for your next campaign. As you continue, you should eventually find the acquisition cost drops and your return on investment increases. Then you move your budget up!
5. HOW ELSE CAN I FIND NEW CUSTOMERS?
Contrary to what you’ve heard there is now magic bullet or secret sauce to getting those 1,000 or 10,000 or 100,000 followers. It’s really about two things:
- Consistency: Post frequently, and make it consistent. Your posts should have a similar look and feel so they’re recognizable, and these
organic posts (or unpaid posts) should be live a few times a week to start. This number can drastically increase if you’re using things like Stories on Facebook and Instagram, or are using Twitter. The more often people see valuable things from you the more they engage with you and the more loyal they become. But it takes time and effort.
- Engage: You can’t post and walk away as though you were running TV or newspaper ads, you need to actively seek people who might like you or your company, and you need to respond and communicate with those speaking to you. No shortcuts! When someone takes time to comment on your post, like their comment or comment back. Click on, or search by, hashtags that you use and like or comment on other posts there. Find locations on Instagram and like/comment there too.
All told, succeeding on social media for your business is really about changing your mindset. Most people go in thinking they have to drive sales now, and when it doesn’t happen, they lose confidence and faith and give up. Go into with the long game in mind, knowing that building an audience will take time, but that it’s worth it. Then learn as you go, acting like a real person, engaging and conversing, and creating your own new community. The rest of the details will start to fall in place quickly!
Thank you to Rick Tanton for generously donating his time and providing valued insight. Stay tuned for the next edition of Ask the Expert, and subscribe to our newsletter here so you can stay up to date on the latest posts!
Did this inspire you to launch your own business, or jump start your existing one? Book a free one-on-one consultation with a YSBEC consultant today!