10 Tips to Create a Social Media Platform That Promotes Your Business (Not Controls It)
By Rebecca J. Whitman
No matter how long you have been in business, you have most likely heard that you need to have some sort of presence online. Some advise having a page on Facebook. Others say that’s not enough; you need a website too. Still, others say you are going nowhere without a presence on major social media channels including Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok. With so much busy work involved in promoting your business, where is the time left to work on your business? In this post, we will debunk the myths surrounding social media marketing and help you get started with creating an online presence that works for you and your business.
What is an online presence?
An online presence is when a business does not just exist in a physical location but is also represented online. In most cases, an online presence consists of a website or public page and social media accounts on at least two different platforms.
Why is being online important for small businesses?
According to Forbes magazine, most potential customers check out an organization online before they ever consider supporting it in person. If you want to increase readership, bring in new clients, and increase customer conversions, you need a website and social media presence.
Who manages an online presence for a small business?
Social media marketing encompasses most of the busy work of having an online presence. Some businesses have employees hired exclusively to manage media and marketing. Others hire marketing firms to handle the work externally. For most of us, social media starts very do-it-yourself with what you can personally understand and maintain.
Regardless of where you are in the scale of your social media marketing, the important thing is to have a plan, have fun, and be consistent.
What are the different social media platforms good for?
Social media platforms continue to grow, evolve, and change over time. What is important is not what seems popular to someone else but what you personally enjoy using and what you think is a platform your potential customers use. Social media marketing only really works when you are consistent, and you won’t be consistent if you can’t stand using the platform.
When you think about your customers, look for a platform that also serves your ideal customer base and product line.
Currently, the top 4 social media platforms are Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok. This fluctuates over time, but Facebook and Instagram have stayed pretty consistent for many years.
Facebook is the oldest of the four and keeps the oldest demographic. Most Millennials consider it outdated, but older generations gravitate to it because they understand it. Social groups connect easily through Facebook Groups and Pages. Media can be scheduled to appear on Pages but not individual Profiles. Live video, stock video, still images, and text can be posted freely on Facebook, but they will be monitored. If anything is deemed a copyright infringement (like singing the cover of someone else’s song) or is even remotely offensive (like an anti-vaccination post), it will be pulled from the internet. Facebook is highly censored.
Instagram is actually owned and operated by Facebook, but it is a completely different platform. Instagram is image-driven material; no text can post without a still image or video reel. It makes Instagram appeal to visually motivated crowds including travelers and artists. Mini reels of vacation getaways, art tutorials, performances, and more are shared on Instagram. Some Millennials have Instagram accounts, but it is primarily used by GenX, Celebrities, and Influencers. Instagram does stick to a distinctive square shape, so images shared from other platforms can often get the edges of their graphics cut off. Instagram is also not friendly with hyperlinks to external sources, so it is hard to use it to link to a personal website or resource.
Twitter has faced some controversy recently concerning fake accounts and buyouts, but it is still an account used by many real people too. Twitter focuses on very short phrases and links to external sources. It is news-driven and appeals to a politically charged audience. It is not a good place for a rant because the character lengths are limited, but it can be a great place to share business-minded posts.
TikTok is a relatively new platform that focuses on a constant stream of short videos. There is very little room to add text or link to external sources on TikTok. It appeals to those who love to consume massive amounts of content with little to no filters. Imagine a social media version of YouTube, and you have a close idea of how it works. TikTok is primarily popular with Millennials.
How do you create an online platform that is not overwhelming?
Managing social media for your business can be overwhelming, but you have to keep it in its place. Remember that it is a necessary part of marketing yourself, but it is not the business, it is not you, and it can’t run you. The key to not being overwhelmed by social media presence is to 1) Focus on one or two platforms that you enjoy using NOT all of them, 2) Create a plan for what and how often you want to post, 3) Have fun with it, and 4) Stay consistent.
Social media is a great place to try out new ideas and poll your audience for their likes and dislikes. With active followers, you can often learn as much from their engagement as you can from anything else you do for your business. Learning how to be more effective makes it fun.
I also find it really helpful to chunk as much work together as possible to save time and avoid scrambling the day a post is due. Remember: you set your own schedule, so make it something you can reasonably maintain. With the exception of influencers, most people post new content once a week.
What is a social media calendar?
A social media calendar is a schedule showing what you are going to post, when you will post it, and where you will post it. Calendars are extremely helpful for pre-planning media and structuring campaigns. This is how a post can build on a prior post and point readers to specific actions. Planning creates positive outcomes.
Planning also makes it clear where you need to put in extra work and where you can chunk work and save time. When it comes to technology, always allow more time than you thought it would take to get the job done. The power goes out, and the internet dog eats your homework in social media marketing too. 😉
How and why should you schedule posts?
Scheduling posts takes the stress out of social media posting and blogging. As much as possible, you should use these tools to be proactive in your business and work ahead of your deadlines. Working ahead gives you the freedom to do other things–especially create more content and work on the projects that you love.
Depending on the platform, there is usually a way to schedule a post to appear at a later date. This feature is often only available on the desktop version of the platform. With Facebook and Instagram, there is a wonderful free tool called Meta Business Suite that lets you schedule posts across both platforms, individualize them, and work months in advance. The Meta Business Suite also gives audience insights including what days and times are best for you to post to reach your followers. (All that creepy “they are watching you” info is finally put to good for your business.)
What are some tools you can use to create graphics?
Some graphics tools are built into the sites for you. TikTok has its own audio clips and filters. Instagram has formats and filters for reels and photos. What I like best is creating graphics using Canva. Canva is a mostly free app that can be used on your mobile device or desktop. It cloud stores all your work, so you can access it across multiple devices easily. It keeps on top of the trends for good-looking graphics, and it auto-formats them to fit the space you are putting them in. If you are like me, you can make one graphic to share across all platforms by using a standard Instagram size or leaving a ¼-inch bleed around the edges of your image.
How do you learn new trends and techniques for social media marketing?
There is always something to learn for social media and marketing. Challenge yourself to learn something new about your technology as well as what the market trends are currently. HubSpot is a marketing firm that knows a lot about its business. You can research topics in their blog or sign up for free newsletters to learn something new throughout the week.
If you are a visual learner, you have a wealth of tutorials on YouTube. Curious how to create a reel on Instagram? Google it, and you will find a list of tutorials available on YouTube. This one with Stephanie Kase was very helpful, and it led to a whole channel of other helpful videos.
When do you know it is time to change your online presence?
Changing your online presence and marketing plan is usually necessary if you have been doing the same thing for a considerable amount of time but not creating new traffic to your business. You may need to do more research or switch to another time and day for posting. You may also need to consider moving to a different platform. For consultations about your existing media and personalized help to make it better, feel free to reach out to me.
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Thanks for reading!