Social Media: Simple Tips on staying Sane

There are so many webinars and articles out there talking about "How To Use Instagram For Your Business" .... hundreds of hours devoted to teaching small business owners and self-employed individuals how to ‘do business’. You can find yourself swimming in an ocean of self-doubt and one-size-fits-all advice, if you take all of these marketing blogs to heart.

The following information is a simple guild aimed at helping you understand what is absolutely important to post in order to help you build your brand on social media. In order to “get it” you’ve got to always remember that ALL social media is one big commercial. For example, when you post to your personal pages and accounts, you're advertising your lunch and your weekend softball game, your late night shots with friends and your narcissistic selfie obsession, your political views and your last horrible breakup. All of it is a type of branding, advertisement, marketing - whether it's your businesss or your life, everyone else is looking at what you choose to share. So be conscious of your choices! 

If you take a look at @guitarsandcaffeine Instagram account, you’ll see there aren’t millions of followers -so if you want millions of followers, this is not the article for you!! For thousands or millions of followers you'll need to invest in a Social Media Marketing Team who will help you manipulate the algorithm to boost views and gain followers; you’ll need to pay for “likes" and “follow-for-a-follow”. But, this article isn’t about how many people follow you; it’s about getting results that are reflected in your business goals... Quality not Quantity.

The following will help you focus your brand, collect your thoughts, and become more effective with posting. 

A Guide for posting/selling/growing on Instagram

Things to remember about marketing a Brand:

1.    38% of today’s consumers are influenced by the brand’s social media

2.    67% of today’s consumers value a detailed photo of the product more than the description 

3.    90% of the information humans process is visual

4.    78% of consumers make purchases influenced by the brand’s social media posts  


What not to do:

1.    Hard sellDo not try to sell a product, do try to sell the branded culture. What does that mean? Poison sang it best, "Give me something to believe in.” The majority of people surfing social media are searching for something — something to talk about, something to think about, something to belong to. Building a brand culture allows you to invite people to see your business as more than just an ad — remember, people pay extra on sites like Hulu and YouTube so they don’t have to watch ads.

2.    Confusing a brand/company account for a personal account - This can leave your followers scratching their heads, and blowing past your product posts. Mixing personal stuff with business worked well before there was social media; if you do that now, you and your brand will get uncontrollably caught up in someone else’s agenda. Things shared or posted get immediate biased reactions: ‘yes’ or ‘no’, ‘like’ or ‘unlike’, ‘follow’ or ‘unfollow’. It’s a cover judging game.

3.    Using too many hashtags can annoy followers - Hashtags are great for connecting your posts to similar posts and thoughts, opening your audience up to new experiences, while upping the potential to gain a few more like-minded followers. However, there is classy and then there is trashy. A great example of trashy hashtagging is when you #hashtag #every #word #because #everything #you #post #is #awesome, without a specific goal besides “more followers!!”. Whereas, when you classy hashtag you’re using branded hashtags (example: GAC uses #stringingsexyback and #guitarsandcaffeine) and other industry leading hashtags (example: #whatsonyourbench and #guitarrepair) with a goal to connect followers with like-minded ideas - opening the door to the neverending rabbit hole of like-minded posts that help you build your brand culture.

4.    Tagging people in photos and posts, who aren’t in the photos – This is so annoying that it can get you blocked. People do this for recognition, for exposure, and for more followers - and it might work the first few times. But this is the social media equivalent of name-dropping in front of the person who’s name you’re dropping. If you’re trying to share a post with a specific person/brand, or you want them to start following you, message them; don’t just plaster 20 tags on a photo of something you're trying to sell. So, when is it appropriate to do this? Tag others when your post highlights their brand!   

5.    Filters on every photo – Too many different filtered posts will make your feeds look cluttered, unprofessional and lazy. Come up with a visual guide/theme for your posts and stick to it! Avoid filters unless it works in your overall theme. Every post is a cover; every post is an introduction. Stay consistent with your business culture.

M.E.E.T. followers: 

Before you post, make sure it falls into one of these categories

Motivate: Be personable with the audience, empowering messages are the easiest way to gain an audience’s trust.

Educate: Give information, historical antidotes, answer one of the Who-What-When-Where-Whys to engage your audience.

Entertain: Be the reason they smile. Give them a reason to laugh. Leaving your audience with a positive experience will keep them coming back for more.

Tease: Give your audience a reason to engage in your posts and come back for more. Make “first reveal” posts only on Instagram, hold contests with Q&A or “tag a friend”, announce “just for Instagram” deals and meetups.

How to make a post count:

Know your brand culture in print

1. Have a color palate to work from. A theme of colors will strengthen the professionalism of a brand without making things too formal – it will make the brand seem organized and directed. If you’re having a hard time deciding on what color is appropriate, do a little research about the psychology of color (that’s what all big companies do), check out your favorite brands, try something out and if it doesn’t feel right change it. You can pick one color or 3 colors, you can use a grey scape of colors or only use primary colors — the only rule is consistency.

2. Less “hosting” is always best for a brand image. While being in a photo is a great way to show your brand is down-to-earth, keep selfies for Instagram Stories. Posting a lot of “hosting” photos to a brand page is informal, and the audience will be more apt to negate the importance of your next product post. Remind yourself what your business goal is. Are you looking for your followers to help you overcome personal insecurities by liking a picture of your face? Or are you a model for a product or service you are providing? Making a clear distinction in your mind, setting boundaries based on business goals, will help your social media success. I’m not saying cut out all personality, I’m saying don’t use social media as a psychologist or personal popularity support system.

3. Have a target audience in mind to start building a community around. This will help you have more culturally relevant posts, that will lead to more shares, more followers, and more sales! 

4. Hashtags can make or break your feed.  If you tend to use a lot of hashtags, try posting them in the comments section, instead of the photo description, to help de-clutter your post. Try coming up with a signature hashtag that your followers can easily use.  Incorporate trending, relevant hashtags to gain a wider following and help connect your followers with a bigger community. Imagine hashtags are like individual threads on a spider web, your post is at the center of that web, and followers are like spiders walking around — Your goal is to find a few important hashtags that can connect you to the outer layers of that web, so your follower reach is wider. 

5. Have all product posts point back to your website, or a place that sells your product – that can be as simple as tagging a store that carries your product or saying “link in bio.” Social media is great at pointing and leading. So, let the pointing drive sales! 

6. Make your photos look professional. You can do this by learning a little about composition, the rule of thirds, lighting, and by taking the time to take a focused photo.  You don’t have to know everything to take a great photo with your phone, but learning a bit about it will help convey your message more clearly. (Example: If you saw two ads of the same new shoes posted by two different brands; one brand’s post has the shoes on a white background and the photo is crisp, while the other post showed a pixelated shoe on a foot from a cropped photo — which brand would you ultimately think is more reliable?)

 A Side Note for small business wanting to look ‘approachable’ and ‘laid back’

The word “professional” doesn’t have to be a bad word. Saying/posting something in a professional way doesn’t mean it’s impersonal, cold or corporate – “professional” tells customers that your brand and your products are reliable.  It tells them your company puts thought into every aspect of the brand, which reflects on the quality of your business.