9 secrets of small business social media

Start with math

You do this with other parts of your business, so apply it to your social media.  Whatever time or money you spend on social media, it all must be lumped into a broader budget item known as “marketing”.  Like every other budget item for your business, the math has to work.  Will you spend $5 to make $20?  Probably yes.  Will you spend $20 to make $5?  Definitely not.  Every business is unique and social media will always be more important for some more than others.  Here’s your tip:  Start with low budget options and move higher only if the math seems to justify it.  (If you’ve been doing it yourself, make sure you assign a dollar value to your time – we usually recommend pricing a  business owner at no less that $30/hour)

Don’t create a plan, borrow one

You could spend hours of your time scribbling out notes on who your target market is, what messaging they respond to and what you must do to cause them to be loyal to you, but why bother if you don’t have to.  If you own a bakery, surely you recognize that you’re not the only bakery looking for new and better customers.  There’s likely dozens of bakeries in your postal code and there are almost certainly thousands, if you care to look further out.  There’s a whole world of examples out there and they are only a click away.  Find imagery and messaging used by a similar business to yours.  Make sure it fits your eye and seems to attract consumer attention, then “borrow” it.  You don’t want to copy it word for word.  You just want to mimic it.

Be present when you’re absent

Do you ever get super busy?  Of course you do.  Maybe it’s business.  Maybe it’s personal.  If you’re like me, usually it’s both.  Have a flow of social media content that shows up when you can’t.  It requires you to understand something called “timeless content”.  Your products, services and special offerings can easily change throughout the year.  These are the subjects of “timely content” – here today and gone tomorrow.  The one thing that never changes is you.  Your passions, your knowledge and your values underpin your whole business and they are the same today as they will be tomorrow.  Your story is the best source of your “timeless content”.  Do this exercise – write down a single sentence that best describes why you started your business.  Now ask yourself, “At what time of year is this most interesting?”  If you did it right, you’ll quickly recognize that your sentence is just interesting and today’s date has nothing to do with.

Play to your strengths

So many local businesses panic at the prospect of competing with some tech giant like Amazon.  They ask, “How do I compete with Jeff Bezos?”  Well, the answer is kind of sitting inside the question itself.  People don’t like Jeff Bezos.  He chases money and power, treats people as economic units and he waves at us from his spaceship while he’s flying over.  Lean into the fact that you’re not Jeff Bezos.  You are part of our community and you might be surprised at how many people choose you for that very reason.  All you have to do is just be yourself and show that your feet are on the planet – not orbiting above it.

Understand the psychology of Shop Local consumers

You don’t need to have a Ph.D. in psychology or neuroscience to make use of them.  As with all predictors related to human behaviour, it’s never just one thing that causes people to pick one option over another.  Some people shop local mainly for economic reasons.  Some people shop local mainly for environmental reasons.  Pick your cause and insert it into your reason – there’s lots to choose from.  Here’s the one psychological driver that is always present in a consumer and you need to understand it:  Human beings seek connection with other human beings.  They seek it because they need it.  Whether you know it or not, you represent something they need that transcends your products or services.  Give them community and connection and product sales will follow.

Understand that loyalty is an emotion, not as a points system

Loyalty allows us to feel secure in our relationships and it helps us to trust. Loyalty is the glue that holds your relationships with your customer. When loyal customers come back, it shows that they like us and trust us.

Likes are not the same thing as likeability

Focus on the likeability.  This tip is meant to draw your attention to one thing – the goal is not to get likes, it’s to get more business.  I wish they’d rename the “like button” to the “amused button”.  That feels like a better readout on how they feel.  Maybe they could make the button smaller too.  So here’s the thing – likes don’t matter so stop tracking them.  Likeability on the other hand – now that matters.  Likeability is the energy source for loyalty and loyalty is the foundation of the most successful local businesses.  They’re the ones that are opening up a second or third location.  No more stupid cat videos.  Be yourself.  People like that.

Stories beat data

The human brain is a magnificent thing.  It takes in raw material (light, sound, touch, taste and smell) and turns it into meaning (tree, bird, heat, sour, smokey).  The raw material is best thought of as data and the meaning is best thought of as its story.  We (humans) are looking for stories to make sense of the world and to inform our next moves.  The better the story, the more attention and importance we place on it.  If this is true (and it is), your best move for presenting your local business is to frame what you do in the form of a story.  Your products or services are not unimportant but the story of what they are is far less interesting than the story behind them.  Tell people what you do inside the framework of why you do it.  How do we know that stories beat data?  The data clearly tells us.

Video is taking over

Regardless of whether or not you are on social media, you should think closely about why it has risen so fast.  The foundational success of TikTok is based on the fact that it displays nothing but videos.  Some are better than others, but they are all videos.  Why is TikTok threatening the prospects for other social media platforms, like Facebook or Instagram?  Because people pay attention to video far more than static photos and scripted text.  Whether you like it or not, it is increasingly necessary to create them if you want anyone to pay attention.  I can just picture Joe the Baker reading this and thinking “I can’t do this.  I’m out.”  For all of the Joes out there, I can tell you that this will be far easier than you think.  There are smart people out there who are figuring out how technology can take this off your plate.  You’ll be stunned at what’s coming and you’ll be able to focus on your baking (if that’s your thing) without having to go back to school to learn how to make videos.