How Business Owners Can Utilize Social Media Effectively

Every business wants to make sales. Most businesses are doing it wrong with Instagram.  I worked in marketing at a mid-sized publisher for three years, and I spent much of that time helping author’s build blogs, create engaging social media posts, and utilize social platforms to gain new readers. Below are 3 tips I have for businesses looking to grow their social media following:

1. Know Your Hashtags

Every community on social media has frequently used hashtags. For authors, it’s phrases like #AmReading, #YoungAdult, and #Bookstagram. For a lifestyle company, hashtags like #SelfLove, #Planning, and #LifestyleDesign might be more applicable. Engaging with content under your communities common hashtags is a great way to get your post seen by people who will want to engage with your content.

It’s also important to use lesser known hashtags so that your post are more easily seen in a smaller pool of posts (as Hannah Ashton mentioned in a recent YouTube video, it’s easier to be seen under a hashtag with 400 post as opposed to one with 4 million.) Knowing your hashtags is about being strategic so that it’s seen by people who are interested in the kind of content you make while keeping it true to who you are and your brand.

2. Stop Sell, Sell, Selling!

I think we can all attest to the fact that getting a glimpse into the life of someone we follow on social media is much more engaging than seeing a post every day that basically communicates “buy this thing I’m selling/promoting!” Which post are you more likely to like or comment on: a photo of someone’s cute dog or a photo of a product you’ve never heard of with a caption that basically says, “buy this”? Most people are more likely to engage with content that feels authentic and familiar to them.

This isn’t to say that business owners should never show their products on their social platforms. It’s free advertising! But I argue that they’d be better off keeping up a social media presence with plenty of their real life mixed in. Any way you can possible add a human element to a post in which you’re trying to show off a product is worth it because it creates a more human and authentic connection with your audience. Share pictures of friends who have used your product, shout out and tag followers who have posted about your product, or simply share a little glimpse into your world with a photo of your pet or your family. I’m a firm believer that the human element is what makes followers stick around and engage with content.

3. If you want people to engage, you should engage first.

It’s always nice to get a notification, even if it’s just a like or a quick comment in response to something we said. Social media is made to give us a happy rush when we get the validation of a like, comment, or share on any given platform. If you want your followers to have a happy, friendly perception of your business, you should give them a reason. Like their comments. Go like a few posts. Send a quick “thank you” by replying to comments on your posts. All of these interactions should be genuine – there’s no use in double tapping pictures you don’t care about or giving a thumbs up on a status that means nothing to you – but if you take the time to look, I’ll bet you find something about their content that you like. Don’t be afraid to show it just because you’re on your business’s account and not your own.

These tips come somewhat intuitively when we use our own social media accounts, but when we start using an account for our business or we start gearing our personal account towards the products we’re creating, it’s easy to let a preconceived notion of what’s acceptable or professional affect what we share on social media. Obviously, you want to remain professional, but don’t let the business side of your brain talk you into taking the humanity out of your social content. Community, authenticity, and mutual engagement are the enduring traits that keep people on social media. Most of us are sick of the commercialism that tells us to buy, buy, and buy some more, and we need more of a human element in the content we see every day. I truly believe that authenticity is what keeps people coming back, and I argue that if you keep it a priority, it’ll make all the difference for your business.

Hi, I’m Jeanna.

Jeanna Paden is a freelance writer from Memphis with work forthcoming in Foothill Journal and Red Mud Review. She is a fierce supporter of English as a college major and Hufflepuff House.

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