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How to use social media to promote your business

You don’t need to stress out about social media.

Like most good things, if you establish a simple and repeatable rhythm, you’ll find that social media will help promote your business so validate your services to potential customers.

This is not an overview of how to use paid ads on social media, but a proven tutorial (from Adam Grim, Co-Founder of Sparrow Websites, Owner of Bootstrap Local) on how social media and its various platforms can help you grow online.

Social Media as a validation tool

Given the way algorithms work – you won’t suddenly stumble across a random organic (non-paid) social post to hire a landscaper, paint your living room, or help you establish a 401k plan. Rather, if someone mentions your services to a friend, it’s likely they may look you up on social to validate what was said about you.

Here’s Adam to explain how it works:

Hey everybody. A question that comes up quite commonly for us is social media. How do I get started? What’s actually effective? How do I know I’m not wasting my time on social media? How do I use it? Yeah, basically, where do I start? So with social media, that’s where we’re going to take today. We’re going to go over this little mini workshop and dive into how do you start, what are the first moves that you should make? This assumes you have some social media experience. You know what social media is, you know what Facebook is, et cetera. But at the same time, [00:00:30] you probably don’t have a fully developed social media plan if you have a robust social media marketing plan. Different sessions probably for you. This assumes that we’re going to try to be building some momentum on social media. One of the questions is, what works best in social media?


Can I just post a Facebook a bunch or post to Instagram a bunch and expect to actually get some leads from social media? The answer is probably not. We see overall that in the world of social media for small businesses, specifically social media, organic social media specifically [00:01:00] has a very specific role to play. It’s typically not going to help you get discovered. People aren’t typically just searching social media, looking for brand new brands and things like that. Google search engines, that does a lot better job at that type of interaction. Where social media can be very effective. One is networking. So with social media, we’ve had a lot of success connecting with other businesses that can eventually refer leads to us following those businesses, engaging with their content, that kind of stuff. So [00:01:30] we used to call it social networking. I feel like I don’t hear that term quite as much anymore.


I hear social media a lot more, but traditional social networking, just being an authentic person, connecting with other people, connecting with other brands online and having those one-to-one conversations can work quite well to build your brand and to build connections online. The other option, other opportunity that we see a lot on social media is going to fall into the realm of validation. That is to say the person [00:02:00] that’s going to work with you probably didn’t find you on social media. They probably didn’t just discover your content and decide to work with you. They might have, but that’s pretty unlikely. What they might have done though is they’ll hear about you somewhere else. They’ll either hear about you on Google, they’ll hear about you in a presentation that you’ve given. Maybe a friend says, Hey, you’ve got to check out this plumber. You’ve got to check out this landscaping company, et cetera.


And then what they’ll do is they’ll go to your social media to validate you, your website, it looks great, maybe your website is, but they know it’s a little polished. They want to see what does your day to day content look like? If you’re a painter, [00:02:30] what does your painting work look like? Are you doing new work? What does your new work look like? Are you still in business? Might be a question they have. So as part of a step two of the customer journey, after they’ve heard about you, they have that awareness. The way they might build interest or the way they might actually validate you is to go onto your social media to check you out over there. So that’s the second one. So number one is going to be networking. Number two is going to be validation. Number three is ads. Social media still does work really well as an ads platform [00:03:00] where you can actually get right in front of people through the ads.


That doesn’t usually come till later in your business game. So we’re not going to talk as much about ads. So if we really want to rock the first two things, we want to get the best results we can out on social media if put together. You can see on the screen here a simple 1, 2, 3 step plan there. Alright, so number one, we’re going to choose a social network. We’ll talk about how you choose Number two, I just want you to post two times a week that goes to that validation, that keeps that validation coming up over and over again. And number three is that I want you to comment three times per day. So let’s dive [00:03:30] in and talk about what that looks like. First, choose one social network. So the worst thing you could do, I really think the absolute worst thing you could do is go into social media with the intention of maintaining five profiles.


If you’re a new business owner, you’re probably already working 70 hours a week. You don’t really have time to post on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, all of ’em. But the way you can really do much better is to pick the one that really fits your brand, fits your personality, and just rock that out. Do the best you possibly can on that network. [00:04:00] So how do you choose first question, who is my audience and where are they? So with this, you want to start to think about your audience in terms of just the core demographics and the course psychographics, what’s interest them, that type of stuff. We’ll talk about that in just a minute here. Second question, personal or business? Am I reaching out to individuals? We call that AB two C business where it’s business to consumer and that’s your line. You’re selling clothing to people or you’re selling lawn care to individual people or businesses.


We call that B two B. If you’re an accountant that’s selling accounting services [00:04:30] to businesses or you are maybe a commercial HVC company, commercial roofing company, selling specifically to businesses, that’s going to affect your decision. Next is what content am I most comfortable creating? Maybe you like to create videos, that’s great. There are platforms that really lend itself to that. Maybe you hate video like me, little awkward on the video, and you’d rather spend your time actually sitting behind a computer writing. That’s totally fine too. Maybe both of those sound awful. You’re not really a writer, not really a videographer, but you can really communicate really clearly [00:05:00] through audio. You can have long conversations with people, and a podcast might be try to find a platform that would lend itself to promoting a podcast or third, maybe none of those work. We stay from the conversational things.


But you’re a gifted photographer and you can take beautiful images of your work. They’re going to sell your business right through the beautiful images of your work. Any one of those four audio, video or the written word can work really well. Those are the only ones I’m aware of. Now if you get to this point and you say, well, I just don’t like creating content transparently, [00:05:30] I’ve got a little bit of bad news. If you want to grow your business, either, typically you’re going to have to create content or you’ll need to pay somebody to create content for you, which is fine if you’ve got the budget to do that, but there will need to be some kind of content. Today’s day and age with digital marketing, the way people engage with brands, it will be very hard to grow your brand without creating some type of constant, some type of media and information that’s flowing into the brand, especially on social media.


If you want to head into social media with basically no content creation, a little bit dead in the water there. Alright, so [00:06:00] next, last one, what are my goals and can the plant platform help me achieve them? Is the goal to get in front of a million people or even 10,000 people just so they know about you and they can ultimately choose to buy from you? Or is the platform to get in front of five good leads that can potential leads, that can really make your numbers that quarter? That’s a question you ask and we’ll get into that a little bit. Alright, so with those questions in mind, I want to talk about the four big ones, right? Or four of the big ones. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn. [00:06:30] So Facebook, in terms of personality, we’ll get into this a little bit. This tends to speak to the audience that’s looking more for back and forth conversations where people build communities and things like that.


So people are really looking to converse with other people, converse with potentially brands to see your expertise in a conversational way. Facebook does send more website traffic than any other social network. So if one of your goals is to get people on your website, Facebook can lend itself to that. So if you’re going after an audience that is [00:07:00] very conversational, looking to build community and is also maybe looking for some entertainment, some news, that type of stuff, Facebook can do really well. So this is more for the business to consumer. There can be some, there is certainly some B two B business to business marketing that happens on Facebook, but more of AB two C business to consumer platform. I’m going to jump to the other opposite quadrant here because LinkedIn is very similar to Facebook except it’s really the professional version of Facebook. So again, a lot of that stuff really applies.


It’s very, very [00:07:30] conversational. They send a lot of traffic to websites. You can really get a lot of traffic from LinkedIn over to your website and people are going on there to build communities and things like that. Both Facebook and LinkedIn tend to skew a little bit older than the other ones we’ll talk about in this session today. So if your audience is maybe 30 and up, Facebook and LinkedIn can be really good for you. If you’re going after Gen Z’s, younger audiences, it may not be the best fit for you. So those are some considerations in terms of deciding is my audience on here? Is it a business audience [00:08:00] and what are my goals? We’re trying to get out of that. Hopefully there’s a couple insights. We’ll talk more about it as we go down the road. But some things consider whether it Facebook or LinkedIn might be good for you.


Ultimately, if you’re going to have a community building conversational brand and you want to drive a lot of traffic to your website, either one of those can be good. If it’s more business heavy, if you’re going after business professionals, LinkedIn is probably a little bit better. If you’re going after individuals, people in your community, Facebook might be a little better. Instagram on the other side, very different skews a little [00:08:30] younger. There are still conversations, but they’re pretty quick comments that go back and forth. It’s not like people get into typically huge debates about a topic on Instagram like they might on Facebook. It’s highly visual. It’s really centered around images and videos. So whereas the other two, you can put text content out there, you can put ideas out there, put things that would generate a conversation. You can put videos and images on both of those, but Facebook and LinkedIn are really kind all comprehensive.


You’ll see videos, you’ll see comments, that kind of stuff. Instagram very focused on the visual. So if you’re a good photographer, [00:09:00] good videographer, anyone can engage with people that way. Instagram can be really good if you’ve got a very visual brand. If you’re doing beautiful remodels or you’re designing new types of clothing and things like that, new clothing lines, Instagram could work really well. Twitter is as much a news platform as a social network as it says right here on the slide. People go there often to see new industry news, political news, things like that. So if staying on top of new trends and things like that is a part of your brand, Twitter can be the place for that. Twitter [00:09:30] does not have quite as many people as Facebook and LinkedIn when it comes to people in a given topic area. I’m not sure if there are more people on Twitter, on LinkedIn totally.


But if you’re just going after professionals, for example, in a certain industry, you’ll probably find more professionals in that given industry on LinkedIn than over on Twitter. But Twitter also does skew a little bit more towards the experts. So if you’re just trying to do a cast a wide net for a lot of people in your local community, for example, you’re trying to get [00:10:00] a lot of people to show up to your restaurant. Let’s just say Twitter may or may not be the right fit. There probably aren’t quite as many people as want Facebook or Instagram or maybe one of the other ones. It says to be very niche. If on the other hand you’re trying to get in front of electrical engineers, let’s just say, or people in a certain tech industry, Twitter could be very good. If you’re nationwide, you’re kind in that niche, there’s a good chance that people are following Twitter to see what the trends are in their industry.


So just a word about Twitter there. Two other things that come up are [00:10:30] YouTube and Pinterest. The interesting things about these, I would say they’re both more search engines than social media. So you can follow people, you can comment on YouTube videos, things like that. Pinterest, you can follow boards and things. So there is a social dynamic to this, but very often people go there, their initial reason they’re going on one of these platforms is going to be the search. There are tons of how-to videos on YouTube. There’s informational content on YouTube over on Pinterest. There’s a lot of inspirational content, huge boards of images showing things, everything [00:11:00] from graphic design to clothing ideas to craft ideas for kids. So the nice thing about those is you don’t need to be as active. What I didn’t mention with the other ones, they’re very ephemeral. What you post is not going to be really relevant or won’t even be seen by people typically two or three weeks later on YouTube, I just saw a study on this for a lot of channels, channels that produce a lot of content, they sometimes will reach their max arc, their max growth three months after the video’s [00:11:30] been posted.


If it’s one that’s really aligned with search traffic or even later than that, Pinterest can kind of follow the same trend where you would put pieces of content in on here that just gets found over and over again. So with the first ones, you’re really going after emotional cues. You want something that’s going to capture somebody in the moment and start a conversation or inspire them with a great video or show them a really interesting news tip that would make them trust your brand more on Twitter. These are all really in the moment really quick things that are happening. On the other hand, while that can [00:12:00] apply a little bit to YouTube and Pinterest, you’ll probably get more growth out of creating videos or boards that someone might search for a year from now and it would still have a lot of value and still build trust in your area.


So there are still very relevant, but they’re just a little, they kind of generally get lumped into social media, but they’re a little different in your approach there. So when you’re thinking about how you want to grow your brand, if the idea of posting every day or posting like twice a week sounds a little stressful, which I talked about in the 1, 2, 3 strategy and we’ll get back to this [00:12:30] could be a platform for you, you’d be fine posting less frequently on these because again, it’s a longer kind of more steady growth pattern than the other two. Alright, so the first step that we’re going to do that we talked about, so number one, you’ve picked your one network. We’re going to run after, let’s just say LinkedIn. That’s your network. You’re going through your business to business audience. You’re going out your professionals, maybe you’re marketing specifically to accountants or web design firms or something.


The next thing I want you to do is I want you to post two times a week. The reason two times a week is good, it shows that your business is [00:13:00] active, it shows that you’re connected, but it’s also you’re not posting so frequently it’s going to drive you crazy. If you take a class on Twitter, they might tell you to post three to five times a day, and if you’re trying to grow as quickly as you could on Twitter, that’s probably true, but that’s not what this course is about. This course is going to accept the reality that we’re all very busy business owners and we probably don’t have time to be posting multiple times throughout the day. So where I’d want you to start is post at least two times a week that will show them you’re still in business. That will show them that you’re engaged with your business multiple [00:13:30] times a week.


It gives you a chance to put out some great content on a regular basis. The anatomy of the perfect post. Consider your headlines, your headline should show a benefit. Your headline can also benefit a little bit from a number, the top 10 ways, the top 50 examples, things like that. And like I mentioned a little bit before, these are emotionally driven networks very often. So it should talk about alleviating stress. It should talk about having a more beautiful home, inspiring yourself to a more beautiful home, aspirations, inspirations, stressors, that kind of stuff. Try to connect it [00:14:00] to people’s core emotions. I’m not going to go over all nine of these. We’re going to jump around a little bit. Having some quotes from whatever piece of content or whatever you’re sharing can really help that shows there. Having some line breaks can also help. So especially on Facebook and LinkedIn, this is a little more relevant, but putting some space so people scanned down the post and read it more easily will have a great impact on your engagement.


You’ll see on LinkedIn sometimes a huge post where it’s like line then two spaces and line, then two spaces. [00:14:30] There’s a reason people post that it works better. Having mentions ending the at symbol and mentioning other people and almost any network can help grow by just connecting with the right people in that way. Hashtags. So there’s a whole science to hashtags, but researching which hashtags are commonly used inside your industry, whether it’s financial tip, if you’re accounting or financial advisor, financial tips, finance tips, FinCon, those kinds of things. Finding those hashtags and using them through your marketing can help you get found a lot more easily. [00:15:00] And most of these platforms, even the ones I said are a little more text heavy, still have a visual component. So even on Facebook and LinkedIn, consider having some visuals in a good percentage of your posts. So this is an article, this example from Orbit Media.


They’re a great group to follow if you want to go all in on social media, even beyond this and going to really unpack that. You can find this on Orbit Media, but at a very high level, capture their emotions, have some quick benefits, have a number in the top of your post, have some visuals there, break it up a little [00:15:30] bit and did some different lines and then mention some people connected to some hashtags that are commonly used in your audience. Try to capture that with these two posts per week. Now another question might be, so that was a really broad overview of how you could approach these social. A more specific question might be, what do I post on individual networks? So this was actually created by Adweek a little while ago. It’s actually, you can tell it’s a little dated, I think it was like two or three years old.


It’s back when Google Plus was Google Plus [00:16:00] and before it was Google business profile. But a lot of the content still applies. So on Facebook you’re going to post content that’s designed to engage your community. So stuff that’s going to start conversations, stuff that’s going to inspire people in your community to be more connected. The best time to post Monday in their study they saw Monday to Friday, 12 to six with 3:00 PM being the sweet spot. So if you’re going to post twice a week, if you’re to post Tuesdays and Thursdays, somewhere in that Monday to Friday range at 3:00 PM that’d be a good [00:16:30] place to start. But experiment with different times and see what works best for your audience. You might see your audiences a bunch of early risers. Let me post some at 6:00 AM and see if that does better. But overall across the platform, that’s what you’ll see on the Twitter side of things.


You want to share news, like I mentioned earlier, it considers itself a news platform. So post up to the minute updates, news tips, ideas, little quick snippets that are going to be fresh and interesting. The best times they found was Wednesday to Sunday, 9:00 AM to 7:00 PM So a little later in the week, but you kind of have a wide time range [00:17:00] when you can post there. This one especially use hashtags and use at replies pretty often on that one. LinkedIn. This is really designed to grow your business network and not just grow it but even inspire your business network. So like I said, very similar to Facebook. You could honestly just say instead of engaging your community, LinkedIn is engaging your business community. In this study they found Tuesdays to Thursdays 9:00 AM to 7:00 PM works best. I will say the sweet spot for me after testing this for a while, at least with my audience, is more like 6:30 AM If [00:17:30] I post Tuesdays and Thursdays, which those two days are my best days, if I post around early in the morning like six or 7:00 AM I seem to get the best results quite early.


But that’s again something you want to experiment with. I also try to sneak in very often like LinkedIn posts on Saturdays. A lot of the people in my audience are small business owners. They may have a side hustle and be working on something on the side. So I do see some traction on that. So Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday are my goal, the goal of what I want to post on LinkedIn, but really put stuff that’s going to start [00:18:00] to help that network. Think about your core network. Who do you really need to grow your business? Is it referring customers? Is it a certain type of business? And post the stuff that’s going to get conversations started with them, that’s going to inspire them, that’s going to help them in their day job. Instagram, you’re telling your story with photos and videos is a great place to document the growth of your business, to show off the quality of your product, that kind of stuff that can be posted on Instagram.


So yeah, be taking photos, be documenting what you’re doing, all that kind of stuff. Get it out there. They see the best [00:18:30] results on Monday, but non-work hours. So try some Monday evenings. But again, like all these, that’s when the overall, if you look at all businesses, but every audience is unique as it keeps saying over and over again. So test some different times with your audience and then Pinterest everyone influence people to buy your products. So show us some ideas, some inspiration, things like that for Pinterest. So that’s a break. So those are some ideas. Hopefully by now you’ve got an idea of generally what the content of the post should be and even more specifically how you might engage with one network over another network. Alright, last thing here. Comment three times [00:19:00] a day. So like I mentioned, validation is one part of it.


We want that. If someone pops in and they look at your social channel or if they follow your social channel that you see that you are an active business owner who’s doing excellent work. That’s the goal there. They find you. They say, wow, they’re obviously still in business, they’re actively doing work and they do great work. I love the quality of their work. The other opportunity here on social media though is to connect with other business owners or connect with other potential clients, that kind of thing. This is more I just said, connect with potential clients, which is a possibility. [00:19:30] Obviously we can go to network. If you were to go to a networking event, your local chamber, one opportunity might be to connect with your ideal client. I will say, however, what I found after owning businesses for more than seven years and working in sales and other jobs and things like that’s typically, that’s an unlikely result.


Often through networking. Every now and then you’ll find a great client out of networking event. But more often the value of networking find seems to be refined. Referring partners [00:20:00] to find businesses who you can align with and you can send them some work and they can send you some work. I’ve had way more success in in-person networking, finding supporting businesses, businesses I align really well with and then being able to grow my business through a mutual referral relationship or doing mutual educational events and things like that. Way more than actually just trying to find my client. I would say the same thing applies to social networking. While there is a chance where you connect with the right person, they might hire you right on [00:20:30] the spot. There’s a better chance I think, of finding people that can potentially refer work to you. So if you are an interior designer, maybe connect with a real estate agent that can refer you for staging work.


If you are a landscape designer or if you’re a landscape maintenance company, you could maybe partner with a landscape designer who’s going to to refer someone to maintain the landscapes after they’ve been designed. A lot of landscape design firms don’t want to get into the maintenance side of things. If you’re an accountant, maybe a financial advisor could refer work to you, that kind of stuff. So I don’t think it should be a novel notion to you, [00:21:00] but I will say when you think about networking in general and specifically social networking, I would really try to think of who, what kind of network can I build that can grow my business on the longterm, not just how can I directly connect with specific clients. To that end, the steps I recommend for this is going to be really a commenting type strategy. So first you’re going to need to find, you’re going to need to find new people, people that are not currently in your network.


So the first way I recommend doing that is to identify some hashtags to follow. Find people that are talking about financial advice [00:21:30] or landscaping tips or maybe on Instagram they’re posting design ideas and stuff like that. Find the thing that people in your industry, especially the people that can potentially refer work to you, find the hashtags that they commonly use just by spending some time browsing social media and then follow those hashtags. When someone posts that you come up, the next tier is find your dream 100. What that is, there’s a whole concept of believe, even a book about your dream [00:22:00] 100 where you basically identify the 100 people you’d love to do work with. Going back to the overall strategy here, I’d find the 100 people that you’d love to be connected with that could potentially refer work to you and follow them. Next turn on your notifications.


So make sure that when anybody posts this hashtag or when you dream 100, post that you see it immediately and try to be the first to post with a thoughtful comment. So try to be that first person that comments there and kind of validates what they’re saying. But don’t just be a cheerleader. Don’t say, oh great content People don’t really [00:22:30] respect the person always says is the first to comment and says, love the article, great comment, that kind of stuff. Be the person that maybe challenges them a little bit. Hey, I tried that and it didn’t work that way. Do you have any advice? Or, Hey, I tried the same thing with my clients and it worked really well and I also put this little spin on it. I tried this extra step, that kind of thing. That’s the article they’re posting. Put a really intentional comment.


This four step strategy really blends like six other strategies. I mean, Gary Vaynerchuk has his dollar 80 strategy on LinkedIn or Instagram. It’s about following people and commenting. [00:23:00] Justin Welsh on LinkedIn has another really similar strategy. The Dream 100 is another concept. So the reason I love this is I’ve really tried to take the best advice of all those social media experts and consolidate it into a simple thing. I know three times a day is a lot. Like we talked about, posting three times a day I think would be a little crazy to ask of you. But if you have a little break, hopefully creating a good comment should just take five minutes or so. Once you get in the rhythm of it, it shouldn’t take too long at all. So follow that, get those notifications out there. Pop in with a quick [00:23:30] comment, and I think in a lot of cases you’ll find you build really deep, meaningful relationships that ultimately grow your business. So that’s the rundown. Find your one network only, focus on one network. This becomes a lot more achievable and the results are much better. If you’re just doing this on LinkedIn or you’re just doing this on Instagram,


Whatever the relevant network for you is post two times a week to that network. Again, the commenting is not going to work if it’s a dead profile. So try to get a photo on Instagram twice a week or try to get a new idea out on Twitter or try to get a new concept or recommendation, [00:24:00] some new advice out there on LinkedIn twice a week. And then once you have that engine running where you’ve got your comfortable posting, start following some hashtags. Find your Dream 100, follow your Dream 100 and start getting some good comments out there and start building some relationships on social media. If you follow those three steps and you follow them well, you’re very authentic, you’re not too salesy. All the traditional rules of positioning and branding yourself, I’m very confident that you’ll see some really nice growth on social media for your brand. 

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