Tips to kick-start your social media marketing

Podcast 26 Apr 2023

In this episode, discover practical tips to help you to start using social media to market your products and services. Hear one small business owner's experience of getting organised on social.

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Sascha Way,
Founding Partner,
Wise Bird Marketing

Tabbin Almond
Wine to Water Coaching

Episode transcript

Jon Watkins Welcome to this latest edition of the FSB podcast, the go-to podcast for news, tips and important information for small businesses and the self employed. Some months ago we did an episode of this podcast on marketing for your small business in which TV personality and small business owner Max McMurdo was joined by marketing specialist Jo Sutherland to talk about how marketing in general can help small businesses reach new customers and grow. This episode, Jo's business partners Sascha Way from Wise Bird Marketing is here, as we hone in specifically on some practical tips to help small businesses start using social media channels in particular, to market their products and services. And I'm pleased to say that in addition to Sascha's practical tips, we are also joined by small business owner Tabbin Almond, founder of Wine to Water Coaching, who will share her experiences of using social media, and what is working for her so you can leverage some of those tips and some of that guidance for yourselves, Sasha and Tabbin. Thanks for joining.

Tabbin Almond Pleasure.

Jon Watkins Sascha, we'll start with you if we may. Can you just start by giving us a bit of a sense of just how useful social media channels are for small businesses? It feels perhaps like social media has kind of made marketing accessible for everyone, I guess?

Sascha Way Yeah, exactly that Jon, social media is incredibly useful and can be very effective. It's a digital shop window for almost any business, no matter what you do, whether you have a physical venue or not. It's a way to raise awareness, that's out your credentials. And what makes it so attractive is it's free at the point of entry, and much of each platforms functionality is also free. The other huge benefit is that when it's done right, it can really work hard at every level of your sales funnel. So you can get yourself known by more the right customers. You can generate inquiries, convert sales, sell product, drive people to your website and build loyalty. Added to that 85% of the UK population, that's over 57 million people, are on social media. So looking at it that way, you kind of be mad not to use it.

Jon Watkins Yeah. And, Tabbin, I'll bring you in now, if you don't mind. Thanks for joining us. Could you just start by giving us a bit of an overview of your business? And what you do just to give us a bit of context?

Tabbin Almond Yeah, sure. Thank you, Jon. And I'm a certified alcohol addiction coach, and I work with anybody who is unhappy about their relationship with with alcohol, they don't need to be a full blown alcoholic as such. And I'm really passionate about removing the stigma around problematic drinking. In my view, and the method that I coach in, it's not the individual that's at fault. It's the substance, this addictive substance that is omnipresent in our society. And I offer coaching both one to one, and through reset retreats that I organise, which are women only retreats, and I'm also writing a book about why we should be rethinking the sort of well being programmes that we run in in organisations and businesses to include a conversation about alcohol because it's kind of the missing piece in the jigsaw. So that again, ties into changing the corporate culture a bit.

Jon Watkins Yeah, brilliant. So you're kind of a coaching business, a small business that specialises in coaching, how exactly are you using social media channels to reach your audiences? And how long have you been using social?

Tabbin Almond Well, I've been using social really, since I went full time in my own business, there was a period where I was working full time for an advertising agency and doing this as a bit of a side hustle. But once I'd resigned and was full time in the business, I started using social seriously. And I use it really at the start of the process; that getting to know you stage. People need to like me, but know me, like me, and trust me before they're going to buy from me, particularly with such a sensitive thing, a sort of stigmatised area as alcohol. So, in my posts, I would kind of tell a bit of my own story, share my story so that making myself vulnerable helps people feel I'm not the only person like this and she gets me, or there's so much in common. And I also give valuable content in the form of tips and tactics. And those are the things that will hopefully make them like me. Because I'm giving them useful stuff for free.

Jon Watkins Yeah, that's great. And what sort of results you've seen if you've got an example, perhaps of how your use of social media channels is actively had an impact on your business?

Tabbin Almond Absolutely, I mean, and I know that it's slow burn for me, because it's doing the 'know me, like me, trust me' job. So it's slow burn. But it has enabled me to start important conversations. And it's kind of a door opener. And I have got a couple of examples where people who have approached me have come to me through LinkedIn, and I can then trace it back. And it's through me either contact, connecting with them on something that they've said, or the other way around, and building that slow, slow burn relationship. And, and often, it'll kind of go into the area of direct messaging, before we actually sort of strike up a rapport. So it really is a way of getting to know people. And LinkedIn is particularly useful for me, because my sort of sweet spot, my core target audience is, people who've been successful in business, who tend to be sort of at the top of their organisation, and very, very concerned about other people finding out about what their, what their problem is. And so LinkedIn is a really good place for reaching them. And it also both Instagram and Facebook and LinkedIn, were very helpful in helping me sell spots on the Reset Retreat that I ran earlier this year. So I am able to actually attribute business directly to social media.

Jon Watkins Great yes, it sounds like you're you're really using those channels to connect with your, your audience, which lots of our, our audience will, will be looking to do. For those that are thinking we should be using social media channels a bit more or starting to use them, what would you say has been the biggest challenge or perhaps, you know, one thing in particular that they might want to keep in mind and consider?

Tabbin Almond Well, for me, the biggest challenge with social media is that I am not a digital native, to put it mildly. And in mastering the tech would have taken me ages, I'm not particularly gifted when it comes to technology, I'm getting better. But it's not my comfort zone at all. And I realised that I would make a lot of silly mistakes, and there's a huge amount to just know, like, you know, what length of video to run, whether I should be seeing stories or reels, and that seems to change the whole time, you know, with the algorithms, etc. How many hashtags Should I have for this platform versus that one? And what shape and size of photo? Should I use? It's all it is complicated, it really is. Well, certainly for my brain. And my view was that I could lose hours every week trying to do this and still not do it very well. And really, that's where Wise Birds come in. We we've we quickly established what the strategy was for social media. And, and then the actual delivery of it, I kind of feed them broad content, and they turn it into the relevant material for each platform, and we agree a schedule of posting, etc. So it's just taken hours of pain out of my week. And and it's been done an awful lot better than if I was trying to do it myself.

Jon Watkins Yes, Sascha, Tabbin mentioned there, that LinkedIn is particularly useful for for her channel. Is there a sense here, that sort of some sectors and some types of businesses are better suited to certain social media platforms?

Sascha Way Yes, absolutely. And you can roughly break it down into business to business, and business to consumer. But really, it's about who your customers are, which social platforms they are on, and what products you sell. There are 35 million UK LinkedIn users, and then those users have company profiles as well on LinkedIn. So LinkedIn obviously works best for business to business, whether you're selling widgets or services. But then there's Facebook 66% of the population is on Facebook, it tends to be less, not so much the under 30s anymore. And if you're under 20, then nobody's on Facebook anymore, but 35 to 55. So that's the absolute sweet spot. And Facebook is great for creative communities. So if you're a business that are looking to talk to a local community or you want to create your own community, it's a great platform. An example of that is one of our clients is a food delivery service that delivers local seasonal produce to customers in local areas. So for them Facebook groups have been really effective. Instagram, again, there's 30 million on Instagram, the majority are females, because Instagram has led the way and make it really easy to load, create and edit content relatively using photos and videos, it's brilliant for lifestyle brands, visual products, fashion, beauty, homewear. But as Tabbin was saying, it's also an ideal platform for trainers and coaches and business services, to now allow you to build awareness and trust and demonstrate your credentials. And then of course, the tick TicTok, which is the fastest growing platform in the UK, it's quite difficult to estimate how many people are on it, because estimates vary from sort of nine to 23 million. But what's interesting about TicTok, it's really becoming much more used by 40 plus women or Gen X is that as as they're called. And that's the biggest growing audience. And again, TicTok is absolutely brilliant if you have a product that solves a specific a specific problem. And again, for specialists in finance, marketing, health, cooking, you name it, if you can demo your skills, provide tips, advice, TicTok is a is a brilliant place to be. And the other thing about TicTok is that the content is evergreen. So this means that unlike some of the other platforms, where you post something, and the Reach basically dies away, after a day or a week, TicTok, your content will be continually served re served up. And that's the same for YouTube. So you know, there's a whole variety of platforms out there. And again, it's really about what your business is and who you're trying to target.

Jon Watkins Yeah, that's really helpful in a moment, you're gonna share some practical tips for small businesses looking to get going with the greater use of social media channels just before you do, I want to return slightly to the sort of question of resource and how long it takes and how much time you might have to commit as a small business to this. You know, one of the things we always hear is that our audience is time poor, and they want to focus on their core activity, whether it's, you know, their café, their hairdressers, the products that they make, and manufacture and sell, or the consultancy services, they want to be with their with their clients. So how long? I mean, Tabbin, maybe you first how long do you does it take you I know you use an agency to support you, but how much time every day or every week are you dedicating to actually marketing your your business through social channels?

Tabbin Almond I probably spend half an hour a day, tops now. And that is predominantly just interacting with people on LinkedIn and responding to comments on on the other channels. And then some more time each week, writing a newsletter and blog and things like that which form the basis of the content that I then give to Sasha and her team to work with. If I wasn't using Wise Bird it would probably be well, you know, at least double that. And the output wouldn't be as good. So.

Jon Watkins Yes okay, that's good insight. Sascha, I'm going to come to you for some sort of practical tips and guidance now, which I think you've helpfully prepared for our audience. Yeah, why don't you walk us through some of those?

Sascha Way Okay, well, I've got five tips. One of them has got lots of tips within it, because it's about the dreaded algorithm that everyone loves to talk about so much. So the first tip really is before you do anything on social, make sure you have a very clear idea of who you want to talk to and who your audience is, and be specific. And also think about how do you help them? What is the problem that you solve? And how can you demonstrate this, and this will basically guide you when it comes to which platform to use, and what kind of content to create. And then secondly, the dreaded algorithm, or algorithms as there are several and how to work them. They always sound so big and scary. But if you think about it in this way that each platform is just trying to do two things, it's number one trying to find provide a great user experience. So they want more people on their platform for longer. So anyone who is posting on their platform is part of that and they are looking to you to offer a great experience, and they will reward it. And the second thing is quite simply, they're there to make money because their businesses just like the rest of us. So in terms of the experience, just make sure that your content is interesting, visually arresting and useful. So more people want to view it and linger on your content. And in addition to that, you need to take advantage of all the functionality that each platform offers to help you increase your visibility and reach. Essentially that's about completing all the bits and bobs like your bio, because bios are keyword sensitive. And that means simply that you must use words to describe your business that people would use in a search on go on Google, don't use a bleak terms or slightly off the beat terms, because it won't help you. Add your location, for instance, if you're a local business, and you can do that in your bio and your posts, and you need to research and use the right number of hashtags, because it does differ across each platform, and you need to put them in the right places. So for instance, on Twitter and LinkedIn, you put them within the text of your caption, but on Instagram and Facebook, you put them at the end. And also, you have to be careful with external links and use them in the right places as well. Because if you just dump them into your caption, you'll you'll kill the reach on Facebook. So use them in your bio, use in link stickers, use them in the right place for each platform. And post consistently, if you can't post everyday, which let's face it, not many businesses can prioritise posting consistently, whatever you decide to do once a week, twice a week, do it consistently. And then the finally on the engagement story. It is a social network. So really, as much time as you can put in answering comments, liking and commenting on other people's posts is really, really important because that tells the algorithm that you're all sort of live and active and valuable user on their platform. And finally, just a mention of paid - paid can be a very effective way for relatively small amounts of money to push your message further to the right people, because there is such a large amount of data, particularly with Facebook and LinkedIn. And you can target people by location, demographic, behaviour and interests. And for as little as £50 or even less on Facebook, you can actually get really good results. But the the thing I would really urge everybody is on paid ads, you have to be very specific, you have to have a specific objective and you have to let people know what action you want them to take as a result of seeing that ad, otherwise you will not get traction. So it needs to be click a link, go to the website, buy this, take up this offer. And my next next tip is about Facebook, because it's notoriously hard to get reach on Facebook without using paid ads. But one way to do this I've already mentioned that actually is groups. I you research Facebook groups that are relevant to your business, for instance, if you're a local business and you you want to target local areas, or you target mums or females, if you share your posts into relevant groups, it will supercharge your reach for nothing. And it's really effective. And the other thing that people sometimes are not aware with on Facebook is that anyone who likes a post on Facebook, you can actually invite them to follow your page if they're not already doing so. So you can go in and manually do that. It takes seconds, it's a little button that you click. And that's a great way of of growing your followers on Facebook. The fourth tip is to use analytics to learn and evolve. And that's both analytics within the platforms themselves. They all have them, they all tell you how your posts are doing. But also use Google Analytics. Because if you've got a website, it's really important to know which platforms are driving the traffic to your site, where they're driving them, how long they're staying. And you'll get a lot more out of your social if you know how effective it's working. And my last tip is that if this all sounds really daunting, just remember, it's not necessarily about huge numbers of followers, it's about doing your social with purpose. And knowing what you want to achieve. It's quality over quantity. 500 followers on Instagram can help you grow your business. So can 300 followers on Facebook, if you've got a really good post with a call to action and content that really showcases what you do, is useful and engaging people will consider your product and service. We have just under 600 followers on Instagram, we get lots of inquiries through our social content. Because we tried to make it useful as possible for small businesses, as well as demonstrate who we are and our approach.

Jon Watkins Thank you, Sascha, that's amazing. And look, you know, that message there around quality over quantity and you know, messaging with purpose. You know, that's one thing that lots and lots of small businesses already have to their advantage right you know, most small businesses operate with with a clear purpose with a clear identity and you know, a clear understanding of what their actual proposition and offering is so it should be easier for them to seize that. And on that mention of sort of paid activity I think as part of this slight miniseries around different aspects of marketing we'll be looking specifically at using paid social activity in one of our future episodes. So look out for that. Brilliant. That's really, really good Sasha, thank you for those practical tips. They're amazing. They'll definitely help our audience and Tabbin thank you so much for giving us a firsthand view of what it's like to use social media to drive your business and how you're the best way to do that for impactful results. That's really great. That brings us towards the end of this episode of the FSB podcast on tips for social media marketing, and I'd like to thank both Sascha and Tabbin for giving up their time and sharing their experiences. I'd also like to thank our audience for listening to the episode and to remind you that you can subscribe to the FSB podcast to receive regular updates and guidance on the big issues affecting small businesses. And do please also remember that you can find a whole host of additional webinars, podcasts and other content, on the FSB website at Thanks very much for joining.

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