• Guest Contributor

Maximising Social Media During COVID

Social media. Love it or hate it, it’s one of the most powerful tools you can use to grow your business. Yet many of small businesses aren’t aware of how to maximise the potential of different social platforms. Without a really good understanding of how it works - and how to make it work for you - you run the risk of wasting a lot of time doing not much and getting nowhere.

If you follow us closely, then you’re likely on Instagram. And you’ve probably got a Facebook account too. How about Twitter? LinkedIn? Snapchat? Pinterest? Tik Tok? The list goes on. But do you need to be on all the platforms? Or should you focus on doing one or two really well? And how do you navigate your socials during the pandemic?

We caught up with some experts in social media to find out the answers to all the questions and serve them up here for you.

Does your business need to be on every social platform?

According to Cherie Clonan, Founding Director at The Digital Picnic (TDP), no, you don’t need to have an account on every social platform. And Cherie actually recommends that you don’t:

“I'm really big on advising people not to spread themselves too thin, else social media genuinely just feels like a chore...and your consumers feel that. Instead of feeling like you have to be on every social channel, why not concentrate on doing one to two platforms really well [and the platforms that your business suits being on, e.g. TDP drives the majority of its social conversions via Facebook despite the fact that - from a personal preference perspective - FB is my least favourite platform],” says Cherie.

“Once you're really nailing those one or two platforms, you might then want to dip into a third platform [perhaps that's LinkedIn, or Pinterest, or TikTok?].”

How to make the most of your online space

So, you’ve chosen one or two social platforms to focus on. Now you’re probably wondering how you make the most of them. Rather than going into social media haphazardly, with sporadic posting when you remember or think you've finally got something worthy of posting, start with a strategy.

“I honestly wouldn't even begin any form of social activity without a strategy. Without a digital strategy, I genuinely liken it to being like you're simply holding a finger to the wind and inevitably hoping for the best. I think the best brands we follow online have the strategy > know it in and out > know what works and doesn't work and are always ideas machine'ing new ways of doing better / being better,” says Cherie.

And from there, the best thing you can do, according to Cherie, is be authentic.

“As cliche as this might sound, I think the way you ultimately make the most out of your online space is by feeling like that online space is yours. For me, the only way an online space can feel like mine? Well, it's when I really lock down that tone of voice / my brand values / what I stand for online / the various ways in which I'd like to amplify my voice online, and so from there? ... really knowing which content themes I want to speak to in order to achieve all of that throughout my content on the reg. When all of this happens, you'll find your content just goes from strength to strength, and when that happens? ... growth happens,” says Cherie.

Check out The Digital Picnic on Facebook.

How to grow your brand and make sales on Instagram

Likely, one of the social platforms you're going to focus on is Instagram. According to Brooke Vulinovich, “Business owners and creators have a platform where they can reach, connect and engage with their ideal customers for FREE!! Who wouldn’t love Instagram?”

Brooke is an Instagram specialist and creator of the global Social Club Membership and Academy. So, she knows her stuff when it comes to Insta. We asked Brooke what question she gets asked the most by small businesses trying to navigate the social platform.

Brooke said: “How can I grow my brand and make sales on Instagram?

And Brooke willingly provided her tips on four key areas of Instagram you need to be focusing on to grow your brand and make sales:

  1. Your Content - When it comes to your content, first of all, you need to know WHO you are targeting. Every time you share a post, it's like you are sending a text message with a picture and some words to your potential customer. So, if you know who your customer is, you can 'send a text message' or create a post that they are going to find valuable. Identify who your ideal customer is that will purchase your products or services or the problem your products or services can solve. Ensure that when you post, the content is either educating, inspiring or entertaining to that person. As long as it is one of those three things, it will be considered ‘valuable’.

  2. Your Timing - If you are using Instagram to run your business, switch your account to a 'Business Account', and if you are an influencer or personal brand, you are better using a 'Creator Account'. If you are using a business or creator account, you will get access to your ‘Insights’ (once you have over 100 followers). Insights is the data on your content, and you also have access to audience insights. Which essentially tells you where your followers are, how old they are, if they are male or female, the time of day they are most active on the platform and the days of the week they are most active. You need to look at those audience insights and ensure that when you post, you only post when your audience is most active on Instagram. Posting at your peak times is going to instantly increase your engagement and will overall make a big difference in your results.

  3. Your Hashtags - Hashtags have the power to expose your content broadly across the world beyond just the people that follow you. They do your advertising while you sleep! Hashtags on Instagram are like keywords on Google. Consumers are searching on Instagram just like they would search on Google. Use the keywords your customer would be searching for on your posts, and that's how you get found using hashtags!

  4. Your Engagement - You need to build your own online community on Instagram. Respond to every comment on your posts, respond to your DM’s, comment on accounts that you follow. You need to make an effort to engage with your online tribe, so they feel like they are appreciated!

Follow Brooke on Insta for more tips @brookevulinovich

How to navigate social media during the pandemic

All this (free) advice is pure gold. But it will be worthless to you if you feel overwhelmed and unsure about where to begin with navigating your social media during COVID. The good news is it doesn’t have to be big and scary. According to Brooke and Cherie, it's all about staying calm and doing the best you can.

“Remain calm and solution-focused to build your brand, attract new followers and convert them into customers. It is how you lead in times of crisis. If your followers perceive you as an industry leader, they will come to you for help. If your content helps them with their problems, they will trust your product or service to do the same. No matter how your business has been impacted, communicating with your customers via Instagram can be done at no cost, and makes a world of difference,” says Brooke.

And Cherie says: “Well, this is me right now [small business owner/stage 4 "locked down" in Melbourne], and my advice is to literally do the best you can in this climate, but also know your limits. What this has looked like for me has been to prioritise the [more obviously] profit-generating work [because my time is a luxury I simply don't have whilst running a business/home schooling two children], and reject anything that used to be the more "luxury" stuff that I used to be able to do, i.e. saying yes to the unpaid speaking gigs etc. Go gently. Turn off the news. Mute the conspiracy theorists. And be kind to you in this climate :) .”

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