Every other day there are new ones.
By: Jessica Dally
For a small business, the sheer number of places to market can seem overwhelming, and really, it is! So what are some other options out there other than Facebook? And are any of these worth it?
Let’s start first with the most important question: are any of these platforms worth it?
That question has a lot more to do with YOU and your business than it has to do with anything else. Just like any other part of your business, if you don’t do something well then the answer will always be, no, it won’t be worth it. Even if your competitors are doing great business on a platform, no amount of poorly done marketing will make a platform worth your time. So if you’re not going to do something well, it’s often best not to do it at all.
And yet some of these platforms may well be a better fit for you than others. Some folks are just more visual than others. Or it may be that you like making short videos, and you’re just a natural in front of the camera. Maybe you enjoy taking pictures of your bees and your product. Whatever it is that you do well, you might as well capitalize on that, right? More importantly, each one of these platforms can help with your marketing on the big channel – FACEBOOK! By creating content on one platform, you can reuse that content on Facebook. It’s a win-win!
So what are some of the other big platforms out there?
One of my favorite tools. Notice I didn’t say platforms?!? To be honest, I use Instagram mainly to make not so stellar pictures a LOT better. By blurring or fading out a background, or changing the color of the picture a bit you can turn an ordinary picture into something far better. Sure, it would be great if I had a professional camera and took more professional shots. But I don’t, and I can’t, so, for now, I’ll use my phone and cheat by using Instagram and photo filters to make what I do have work. You can too.
While you’re at it, why not grow your following there too!? How? By hashtags! The thing about Instagram is that it LIVES on hashtags. Every word you can think of is a hashtag. But use them wisely and well. #beekeeping might be an obvious one. And certainly, if you’re taking a picture of your honey then #honey is an obvious one. #delicious might well be another. But there’s a HOST of other hashtags you could use…
Here’s a short list:
#bees #honeybees #beekeeping #beekeepers #queencell #hive #beehive #honey #honeybees #urbanbeekeeping #beefarmer #nature #wildlife #pollination #flowers #garden #beehiverental #savethebees #beesofinstagram #instabee
And of course, don’t forget whatever city or town you’re in and your business name!
To learn more, you can use Instagram to find others by searching for these hashtags on Instagram and finding who is using these regularly. Find anyone that seems interesting? Follow them and learn by watching what they do!
Instagram is listed first on this list because honestly, it’s probably the easiest platform to use. It’s just pictures really, and there isn’t much to it. To learn to do it well you really can just follow others and watch what they do. The biggest thing to remember is to use hashtags. That way people can find you!
Pinterest is basically like a scrapbook for things people think are cool. That said, folks are selling a LOT of stuff via Pinterest. However, this platform is best for those who can sell online. Your local shop may do well here, but you’re much better off if you can find a way to ship. So what’s the key to selling on Pinterest? The same as Instagram, make your pictures pretty! No one wants to buy something that doesn’t look nice.
It’s no different than purchasing any major purchase you might make. Think about those pictures you look at when you buy a house. You want to see something that looks nice. Use filters and find ways to make a good background and layout to make your product stand out. Take the junk out of the picture or make the junk look cool rather than having it be a detractor from the product.
An even better trick? Use Instagram filters to create a picture for your Pinterest board! And if you saw my last article, you can use Canva to create graphics for Pinterest! You can also create graphics in Canva that are educational for Pinterest and use those to sell as well. Why is your product better? Let us count the ways!
Pinterest is listed second as it’s harder to use but not terribly so. It takes more time than Instagram but for some, it’s very fun. And you don’t have to make all of your own content. You can “repin” stuff from other people. It truly is like a scrapbook. Just make sure you’re giving credit where credit is due and that all of your pins direct back to the original source. You wouldn’t want people stealing your stuff so don’t do that to anyone else!
On my own Pinterest page (http://www.pinterest.com/jessicadally) there’s a board made with some hints and tricks for you to look at. I also have a board called “Awesome tools” with some great tools for small businesses, travelers and others. Just some cool things I’ve found that might help you while you’re going about running your business. Check them both out!
A LOT of young people, especially young men LOVE video. That said, it can be particularly time-consuming to make content here. And you have to decide if you’re going to go for higher quality content or just record train of thought and basic video that isn’t super polished. Either can work, and educational videos help you establish yourself as an expert.
If you like to step in front of the camera, there’s no reason you shouldn’t. And remember, unpolished videos aren’t a bad thing.
Indeed lower quality helps establish you as a real human in a way that something that is very polished doesn’t. But do invest in a decent tripod set up (even just some little thing so your video isn’t super jerky!) and make sure your sound quality isn’t horrible. Experiment a bit and don’t just put anything online here. Make sure it’s something you’d want to watch.
Like many other platforms make sure you tag your videos with appropriate tags. Similar to Instagram people will use this to find your videos. The biggest thing to remember? Things that seem simple to you are complex to others, especially when it comes to beekeeping! Don’t forget to explain the stuff that a brand newbie might not understand. Or alternately, if you’re making videos for a more advanced beekeeper, make sure your video descriptions note that so newbies won’t be frustrated with your content!
Listed last (ish), this platform can take the most time. For some, it will be easy to make content for YouTube. For others, this is a platform to skip. It truly is up to you if this is something you can manage or not. If you like being in front of the camera, by all means, DO IT!
Honestly, this platform barely exists anymore, and yet many marketers still publish here for one reason and one reason alone- it can help with your search results on Google. If you have a website, and you really want to score well when people search for your product, one way to gain some extra credit, so to speak, is to publish content to your google+ page. Of course, you need to have it linked to your website, and you need to have your business verified properly. But if you have the time to manage all of that, it’s not a bad idea to publish some content here and there to Google+. It truly can help your business.
That said, your fans likely aren’t actually there . . . this really is just a strictly business move. So don’t freak out when you don’t get a ton of likes and shares here. That isn’t what you’re trying to do. And it will be hard to stay motivated without that feedback. But if you can manage to keep at it, it can indeed help with your organic search results for Google. For this reason, it’s the last platform listed. It’s really hard to remember to post here.
There are ENDLESS other platforms out there. If there’s something out there that you like and you’ll do it regularly, by all means, DO IT. There’s no reason not to. Just remember a few simple keys to deciding where to be when it comes to your business…
1) Remember- your business pages are for your business- post personal politics and opinions on your personal page. Your business may well have politics- and that’s totally fine. But do make sure that whatever you post to your business page is indeed FOR YOUR BUSINESS! Don’t make the mistake of mixing your personal opinion with your business. It can be a fine line to tread so just take a second and think about it before you post it.
2) DON’T be everywhere. YES, big, huge businesses are everywhere. Guess what? They have a HUGE marketing department. With MANY people managing all of those platforms. We’re talking a person for each platform, or maybe more than that! You don’t have that. So pick the platforms you like and will regularly do. If that’s just one, it should probably be Facebook. But if you hate Facebook then pick one you do like. And stick to it. If your business is suffering, then you may well have to do something you don’t like, or find someone who will help you with it and pay them. But DO NOT think that being everywhere is better than doing one or two really well. More is not better; it’s just more. And often that means doing a lot of things really poorly.
3) Don’t make the mistake of thinking that you can hire just anyone to do your social for you. This is the biggest mistake I see in the field. Just because someone uses social media doesn’t mean they know how to MARKET on social media. Using social media and marketing on social media is a completely different thing folks. I can’t tell you how many millennials I’ve found that don’t know about basic social media marketing tools. If you’re going to hire someone, hire a professional, not the kid next door. Yes, you can pay less to the kid next door, but you get what you pay for!
4) If you’re not sure how to use a platform, find someone who can teach you. Many good marketers will teach classes on how to use these platforms. You don’t necessarily have to pay someone to do it for you. But you may want to pay someone to teach you how to do it well. That is likely money well spent.
5) #2 again… no really, DON’T be everywhere. I know. I already said it. You’re a small business. You honestly can’t be everywhere. Don’t do it!