With its unprecedented reach and affordability, social media is an unmatchable marketing tool for entrepreneurs. But it can also consume too much of your time if you’re a sole trader lacking in experience. Don’t panic: we’ve smoothed the learning curve a bit to help you get started making the most of this powerful platform.
Pick the Right Social Media Platform for Your Business
With new social media sites sprouting daily, each with its own deafening buzz, there’s a temptation to jump from platform to platform to stay on the cutting edge. Don’t let fickle trends guide you. Instead, go where your audience is. If you’re selling investments to 40 and 50-somethings hoping for an easy retirement, you’d likely be wasting your time on Vine and Instagram — both hotspots for millennials — but could reap great returns on Facebook, where Gen Xers and Baby Boomers are plentiful.
Make Sure You’re on Linkedin
Don’t be fooled into thinking LinkedIn isn’t for you because you’re not looking for full-time employment. As a sole trader, the product you’re selling is you. Everything LinkedIn offers individual job seekers — a forum to network with other professionals, promote your expertise, and generate leads — can be used to grow your solo business.
However, if you put “self-employed,” “freelance,” or something similarly denoting your independent status in the Company field of your social media profile, you could be undermining all those benefits. LinkedIn designed that field so that users can click on it to get to a company’s profile page, or, if none exists, a list of other LinkedIn members who have worked at that company. If you enter “self-employed” in that field, when users click that link they’ll be served with a list of other individuals with similar skill sets who have also identified themselves as self-employed — in other words, your competitors. A better idea is to create a company page for your solo business and link it back to your profile page. In addition to solving this conundrum, you’ll also get another place to promote your products and services, share content, and post company updates.
Your businesses logo is an important part of branding, but as we said above, you — more specifically, your passion, expertise, and services — are what you’re selling, so let your customers see the merchandise. People are more likely to engage a person than a faceless brand, particularly on social media, so put your lovely mug rather than your logo in your profile photo. If you’re unsure of what type of picture to use in your profile, LinkedIn’s own blog has an excellent post making it all seem significantly less scary. Need further advice? Here’s a popular article from the Telegraph’s Finance pages that talks you through step by step.
A stagnant Facebook page or a Twitter account with only a handful of tweets doesn’t exactly convey a vibrant business. One reason Small Business UK boasts over 27,000 Twitter followers is because they keep their feed updated with a steady stream of interesting and, above all else, relevant content. We understand it’s tempting to back-burner posts when the daily demands of running a solo business get too heavy, but instead of abandoning your social media efforts, enlist some help from tools like Hootsuite and Buffer. These programs allow you to automatically schedule posts to publish at intervals you define. You can post to all your networks at once or different channels at different times of day. And, because they let you manage all your social networks without logging into each one individually, they give you back hours to focus on more pressing areas of your business.