If you are like many of us, you have a love-hate relationship with social media. There are things you like (such as keeping up with your sorority sisters from college on Instagram, even if some of them still wear their Greek letters to their children’s birthday parties) and things that get on your last nerve (like Aunt Gertrude’s daily cat videos - how many felines can one person fit in a studio apartment?). At its best, social media connects you with the people, places and things you care about most.
Now when it comes to social media, it’s time to get down to business ... literally. That hobby you have been posting about for quite some time now has developed into a business and social media is a great way to connect with customers and promote your products and services. Unless you’re a pet store, you can probably come up with social posts and strategies much more exciting than cat videos (sorry, Aunt Gertie). Here are a few tips to get you started.
One-third of the world’s population – 3 billion people – are active each month on social media, including your sorority sisters and Aunt Gertie. Use this fact to your advantage. When your budget doesn’t quite match the big enthusiasm you have for your new business, social media is a cost-friendly way to attract new customers. Consider separating your new passion on social media from your personal account. Facebook even has a business template that you can use to create your online hobby profile. This makes it easy to keep things professional and not mix in pictures of your family pets or cute photos of your kids at the pool this summer.
Decide what you want to say in your posts and create a content calendar to determine what and how often you will send out messages. Have a purpose for every post. What do you want your followers to do and how will you make that happen? Determine what social channels work best for your business. Facebook is great for reaching the masses and skews toward a 40-plus audience; Instagram caters to Gen Z and Millenials and Twitter is a mix of the two. Apps like Tik Tok and Snapchat have the youngest audiences.
While posting is free on all social platforms, you can often pay a couple of hundred dollars to boost a specific post, public event, art exhibit at a local park or your virtual grand opening party (meaning the channel will share it as a sponsored post with followers outside of your network) to capture more attention and gain a greater following.
Use your website as the cornerstone of your social media efforts and be sure to link your social media profiles to your site. Leading followers to your website will help people learn more about who you are and what your brand is all about. Clearly highlighting your brand advantages on your home page and providing detailed descriptions and visuals of your products and services will also help you build a brand and social following.
If you need a website or want to refresh an existing one, try an easy-to-use website builder. While you’re starting a business, don’t lose sight of the fact that your website should be fun. Let your personality shine through and let customers get to know the real you. Also, be sure to include icons on your homepage with links to all of your social media channels.
Social media provides a rare opportunity to directly connect with your customers. When someone comments on a post, be sure to reply. This lets them know you're paying attention. Learn from your follower’s comments and give them more of what they want – and always keep your comments positive and non-controversial.
Try using videos (you can shoot simple ones with a smartphone with little or no budget) and different types of photos in your posts. What do people respond best to and why? Come up with a hashtag with your business name in it (something like #ArtworkByAlicia) and encourage satisfied customers to post about your brand and provide incentives (10 percent off a next purchase) to do so. This will help you to track how many people are commenting on your brand.
While social influencers are the new thing, you may not have the budget or be ready to approach an influencer that would be right for your brand. Why not recruit friends and family to be your own social influencers? Encourage them to post about your new business and spread the word about your products and services.
People love to support heir friends' and family members' endeavors, and you’ll find that your “influencers” will probably be happy to help you. Be sure to provide sample posts they can use so you can maintain control of your messaging and brand image.
While you’re making your hobby into a business, don’t forget to have a little fun along the way. You’ll be happier and this will show through to your customers. At Register.com, we understand enthusiasts like you and we have the resources – from domain name registration to web builders to professional email accounts – to help you follow your dreams.
We bring expertise – and yes, a little fun – to the mix. You can use our online resources to get the most from your social media efforts and we can help guide you on social strategies, too. Just like you, we are passionate about the things we spend time on and are always here to help you along the way.
You just made your hobby into a business and now it’s time to spread the word online. By staying active on social media, you’ll connect with more customers and build your online presence. And you never know, you might even steal a little of their attention away from cat videos.