I have been working with small business owners now for at least 5 years. One thing I hear over and over again from small business owners about social media is: “It doesn’t work”.
Most of the business owners I have worked with do social media marketing the wrong way. As a result, they struggle to succeed at social media marketing, and they believe it doesn’t work.
After seeing this mistake over and over again, I have decided to write this article to teach small business owners how to do social media marketing the right way.
Before we dive into social media marketing, it’s important that small business owners understand the essence of marketing.
To understand marketing, we can look at a few examples of some of the marketing/advertising campaigns you can watch on TV.
For me, some of the best ads I have ever seen on TV are the Geico ads. Have you seen them? 15mins can save 15% or more on car insurance.
The slogan is great, but what’s even greater are some of Geico’s TV ad campaigns.
When you look at and think about these ads, they are not meant to get you to watch the ad, get on your laptop and then purchase a car insurance policy right away.
Instead, Geico’s goal is to make their ad so memorable, so ingrained in you brain/psyche that when the moment comes that you need car insurance, you’ll have to think of them.
And it works.
It worked on me.
As a college student, I was under my parent’s car insurance plan. So, I never needed to worry about car insurance. When I graduated college and I needed car insurance, I remembered all the hilarious Geico TV ads.
I did do my research and considered other car insurance companies. However, whether it was the emotional attachment to funny commercials, or the fact that Geico actually ended up being cheaper than many other car insurance companies, I bought a policy from Geico.
Why understanding marketing matters
Understanding marketing matters because social media marketing is similar to regular marketing.
The goal shouldn’t be to get customers to stop what they are doing, go to your website and immidiately purchase your product or service.
The goal with social media marketing should be to make memorable impressions in the minds of your customers.
Everything you do with social media marketing as a small business owner should be to ensure that your brand/business leaves a mark in the minds of your customers and potential customers, so that whenever they need a product/service that you need, they can’t help but to think of you and/or your business.
Paid vs Organic Social media marketing
Before we move forward, it’s important to make a distinction between paid vs organic social media marketing.
With paid social media marketing, you might be wanting to promote a specific product, service or promotion.
With organic social media marketing, you are instead trying to let your customers know who you are, what you do, and how you can help them.
This article addresses organic social media marketing strategies.
What small business owners get wrong with social media marketing
The biggest mistake that small business owners make with social media is that they forget the number one rule of marketing: BE MEMORABLE.
Instead, most small business owners want to sell, sell, sell. They want to tell customers and everyone about their products and services over and over again.
How to fix your social media marketing mistake
One of the best ways to fix this mistake is to switch your focus from selling to helping.
What a selling strategy looks like
If you look at small business owner’s social media pages, you’ll often find them talking about, describing, & sharing pictures of their products and services.
For example, if you look at a small business restaurant’s social media page, you’ll mostly see pictures of the food and drinks they serve, the kind of events they host, and maybe the inside of the restaurant.
What is helping?
Helping involves a different kind of mindset. Instead of thinking about showcasing your products and services any chance you get, you have to think about how you can help your customers, and bring value to their lives in a way that helps your business.
Why helping is better than selling
Helping is better than selling for 3 main reasons.
Helping helps achieve the goal of “being memorable”.
Remember marketing 101? Be memorable.
When you focus on helping, you significantly increase your chances of being memorable.
Of course being memorable involves alot more than just helping. You need great branding and a marketing strategy. But that’s an article for another day.
Helping increases your chances of being memorable because it leaves a good impression in the mind of your customer. It leaves a mark.
When I was in college and I was watching those Geico commercials, I used to look forward to watching them. In fact, those commercials were my favorite part of watching come TV shows.
Sometimes, if I had a bad day, these commercials would bring a smile to my face. Each time I watched them, Geico left a mark in my psyche. They made a good impression on me as a customer, and when I was ready to by a car insurance policy, I remembered Geico.
Helping is great for SEO
Helping is great for SEO because it creates what I call the digital marketing viscious cycle of goodness.
In psychology, researchers have identified something called the cycle of depression.
This cycle goes something like this: Depression leads to low energy, fatigue, and decrease interest. low energy, fatigue, and decrease interest lead to decreased activity and neglect of resposibility. The latter leads to increased guilt, hopelessness, ineffectiveness, which eventually lead to more depression.
And the cycle repeats over and over again.
The worst part about this cycle is that it is self-sustaining. It doesn’t need any outside push or influence to keep it going.
In digital marketing, I have identified another such cycle. A more positive but just as sustainable cycle that can power your digital marketing strategy.
The cycle goes like this: Create helpful/useful content. Helpful/useful content is more engaging and thus more likely to be shared. Content that is more likely to be shared is more likely to be shown by social media companies like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram ect.
3 main ways to be helpful with social media marketing
Being helpful with organic social media marketing can fall into one of 3 main categories: educating, entertaining, or inspiring.
These three categories are three of the main reasons customers go to social media platform.
Sure, many of them join social media marketing platforms to connect with current friends and long-lost family members. However, when they join they tend to consume, engage with, and share content that is educative, entertaining, or inspiring.
Depending on your industry, you will have to find a good angle for your social media marketing strategy. Not all business can either entertain, educate or inspire.
More over many businesses cannot authentically achieve either one of these goals.
So, it is important that small business owners carefully choose how they would like to approach social media marketing.
For example, say you’re a non-profit organization whose goal is to help sexual and physical abuse victims get out of their situations, it would be hard to achieve the goal of entertaining in your social media marketing.
For such a business, a more appropriate goal would be to either educate others on the pits and falls of getting caught up in abusive relationships.
Example of ways you can be helpful
I have read a few articles on this subject. I have seen some companies talk about entertaining, educating, and inspiring.
One of the things that is often missing from such articles are concrete example of how small business can achieve either one of these goals. This section addresses just that.
A small case study
I did some research while writing this article.
So, I took a look a few social media accounts and one of the one that caught my attention is Nike’s instagram page.
If you look at Nike’s Instagram page (I have), they have exactly ZERO post advertising any of their hundreds of thousands of products. Instead, every single post is about inspiring the average person, aspiring athletes, current athletes to “JUST DO IT”.
The images and videos are aimed to inspire us all to connect with current athletes, learn about their struggles and connect with them as human beings. In many instances, many of us can see ourselves in these stories. This achieves the goal of “being memorable”.
Be a helpful entertainer
There are many industries for which entertaining would be an appropriate social media marketing strategy. Industries such as event planning, catering, restaurants, and others.
Most restaurants I have seen on social media do one thing and one thing only: Share pictures of the foods and drinks they serve, and their dining spaces.
Many of these restaurants struggle to gain followers and get any sort of significant engagement.
One restaurant that has done it differently (one of the few I have seen), is a restaurant called the Rosepepper Cantina in Nashville, Tennessee.
What this restaurant has decided to do is to share mostly memes on their Instagram page such as the one in the image below.
I have never actually been inside this restaurant. However, their strategy has been so spot-on that they have managed to gain over 50K followers (an amazing number for a small business restaurant) to date.
Their strategy focusing on entertaining as one of their main goals has made such a memorable impression on me that I started following them on Instagram, and you better believe I’ll make it a point to visit that place next time I’m in Nashville, TN.
The Rosepper cantina is an example of how a small business can switch their focus from simply selling all the time to entertaining. By doing so, they added more value to their customer base and managed to grow their Instagram significantly better than other small businesses.
Be a helpful educator
Not all businesses can authentically have entertaining as a social media marketing goal.
For example, if a hospital wanted to use their social media platforms to entertain, it might come off as insensitive, especially if it’s a hospital that has to deal with serious illnesses like cancer, Alzheimer’s, etc.
I’m not saying it’s impossible to find an angle where entertaining would make sense. However, in such a case, it would be much easier for a hospital to choose to either educate or inspire instead.
Law firms, financial institutions & advisors are examples of industries that might have a hard time using entertaining as their main social media marketing goal.
It would be hard for companies and individuals in these industries to entertain because it might make their clients/customers think of them as “not serious” enough, which would leave a negative impression that they would want to avoid.
Instead, companies and individuals in these industries would be better off trying to either educate or inspire.
Be a helpful inspiration
I have already talked about the Nike Instagram example. I’m sure as a small business owner you might think: Yeah, but Nike has the resources and the budget to achieve this goal.
Point taken. Nike has the resources but there are ways you can create a successful social media account whose primary goal is to inspire.
Say you are a personal trainer for example. You could share transformation pictures from your clients (with their permissions) and have the inspirational story of their journey as a caption.
So, there you have it, 3 simple strategies along with a few examples you can use to help you succeed at social media marketing.
All strategies centering around being more helpful, instead of constantly trying to use your social media accounts to sell, sell, and sell more.
I hope this article was helpful to some of you out there.
If I missed your industry or have any other questions, leave a comment below.