Nail your social media marketing by thinking small

Taking a manageable approach to social media marketing is infinitely better than trying to do it all, burning out and giving up

If you’ve given up on social media marketing because it seems overwhelming, you’re not alone.

Less than half of all Australian small businesses used social media in 2016.

That’s an amazing statistic considering 15,000,000 Australians (61% of the population) are active on Facebook. Every. Single. Month.

Perhaps more interestingly, around a third of social media users in Australia follow businesses or brands via social media.

This is a potential gold mine for any small business owner looking to tap into the online market.

But it’s not surprising that most small businesses aren’t doing it.

We’re time poor, budget poor and the vast majority of us aren’t qualified marketers.

We’re afraid of taking on too much, not knowing what to say, or even what social media sites to be on.

But I’m here to tell you none of that matters in the beginning.

What matters is taking small, consistent action to gradually build your social media visibility and following.

What matters is believing in the power of thinking small.

Why less is more

The world is saturated with messages of ‘thinking big’ and ‘dreaming big’.

Big dreams are awesome. They inspire and energise.

But there’s a time and a place for thinking big. Like brainstorming. Planning. Framing business and life goals.

We all need big picture thinking to provide direction; to set ideas in motion.

But how many small businesses fail despite having the most ambitious dreams?

Dreams mean nothing without action.

Hilton films a chai wallah working in Chandigarh, India.

Hilton hard at work in Chandigarh, northern India.

If we’re paralysed from taking action because the journey seems too difficult, we are lost.

This is where thinking small is so powerful. By focusing on bite-sized marketing activity and consistency, you can steadily build your following online and improve the professional image of your business.

The key is less concern about audience size and more focus on creating and delivering value to your core communities.

Post, grow, repeat

In 2013, I stepped into the world of small business ownership after heading up the media and communications at a professional sports team.

I was used to big audiences, high profile opportunities, and massive growth. Social media was easy!

Post content, grow audience, repeat.

When I started Brandsten Media with my business partner Hilton, it took all of about a week to realise nothing could be further from the truth.

Little did I know what I was in for as a newly-minted small business owner. I was always thinking too big!

Little did I know what I was in for as a newly-minted small business owner.

My initial taste of online marketing as a small business involved setting up accounts on just about every social media site out there… then promptly neglecting most of them when I realised I didn’t have the time or expertise to adequately service them all.

I had clients to manage, books to balance and proposals to make! Social media marketing couldn’t get a look-in.

So, discouraged and frustrated with our lack of progress, we decided to pay for external consultants to take the problem off our plate.

A change of perspective

Outsourcing social media management freed up our time, but there was no real strategy behind it.

Our posts felt somewhat ‘hollow’ and soulless. They didn’t really say anything about who we were as a business.

The real eye opener came when we discovered that our most successful posts were coming from photos taken behind the scenes of us at work, of our equipment, and anything showing we were real people, doing real things to produce real results.

Leigh walks into the luxurious surrounds of the Shangri-La Eros in New Delhi.

We were a bit out of our comfort zone in the luxurious surrounds of the Shangri-La Eros in New Delhi.

It was the posts with ‘heart’, with vulnerability, that got people liking, talking and sharing, more than any other.

So we decided to take back our social media accounts, return to basics, focus on our strengths, and be smart about the way we used our limited time.

That meant less general posts and more focus on who we are, and why we were in business.

Don’t try to be everywhere

As photo and video producers, one of our greatest strengths lay in the creation and distribution of visual media.

Our second strength, tapping in to my background as a PR professional, is blogging about our journey as a small business in the social media marketing world (starting with this post!).

So we’ve wound it back to focus on Instagram (check us out @brandstenmedia) and our blog, with only small consideration for other social media sites.

It was a relief knowing we didn’t have to do it all. We just needed to begin and take that first step!

What does this mean for you?

National Geographic didn’t have 66 million Instagram followers when it opened its doors and you won’t have the biggest social media communities when you start marketing online.

Don’t beat yourself up trying to churn out enough content to service Twitter, Pinterest, Vimeo, YouTube, Facebook, Snapchat, Google +, Soundcloud and Instagram just because the big players do it.

For one, you probably won’t have enough content or time to do it well. Secondly, not every platform will be a good match for your business or skillset.

The secret is thinking small

Think small and home in on the social media platform (or two, at most) that best caters to your individual strengths, and the unique offerings of your business.

It could be Pinterest if you sell handicrafts, or video FAQs if you’re an insurance broker who has a gift for the gab (which you probably will in that profession!).

Whatever it is, make it unique to you and your business and focus on telling your story through words and images. It’s amazing, but people like connecting with other people (shock horror!) on social media.

The key is connecting with people on a human level. We hope to do that better than we connect our equipment cables.

The key is connecting with people on a human level.

Deliver Value: Think small and focus on delivering real value to your core community by creating content they’re interested in. Quality trumps quantity here. They will return the favour with their attention, contribution, trust and eventually (all going well) sales.

Engage: Actively contribute to conversations online, follow others in your industry, create relevant content for your community, and engage with people.

Take the pressure off yourself: You’re not McDonalds, and you’re not Apple (probably … but if you’re reading this Tim Cook, drop me a line and we can talk). Be yourself. Document your business. Provide useful information. Add value based on your strengths.

Chunk your time: Try to dedicate 20-30mins at least a few times a week (preferably daily) to social media activities, and give yourself a clear goal before you begin. It could be that you spend time researching a blog post, scheduling photos for Facebook distribution, or finding interesting people to follow in your industry. Consistency is king and small actions add up to big results.

Trust is everything: In time, these small, daily actions will increase your organic growth, develop a higher quality community, and most importantly of all, build trust. Be consistent, be authentic and trust will follow.

ABL – always be learning: Remember that your business is a work in progress. You are a work in progress. Just because you don’t know much about marketing today doesn’t mean that’s the way it will stay forever. Marketing your business is a skill that you can develop with a consistent approach and a focus on thinking small!