Guest Post By Ivan Serrano
Some SMBs dread the launch of yet another social network. Have you looked at some of the newer social media platforms like Instagram and thought, “I just don’t need another social network to eat up time or distract employees from real work.”
This is certainly the case with the way some small businesses approach social media. Not only does it look like an endless drain on our most precious resource–time–but it’s changing so fast. It’s much easier to just throw up your hands and declare all social networks to be too much trouble. That is perhaps the most common mistake that small businesses make – giving up.
It can be a difficult decision
Many small business people have will have talked themselves out of social media for their businesses while they may be avid users in their personal lives. With the proliferation of social media platforms, it becomes easier to look at social media superficially and dismiss the next social network as another useless fad without investigating further.
This has been the case with Instagram and SMBs even though Instagram is one of the most brand-friendly social media platforms on the planet. When SMBs take the time to learn a social network and then have that platform change policies and require them to relearn and develop new strategies, this reluctance to engage on the part of SMBs is not surprising. With no control over what social media platforms may change next about the ways they operate, many small business owners see depending on social media as just asking for trouble.
The fact is, however, that social media can not only provide powerful insights into customer behaviors and preferences, it can also be a profoundly insightful mirror for brands to gauge how they are perceived by the public.
Are we interesting enough?
A huge hurdle for many small businesses is the perception that they are not interesting enough to compete with other brands who already seem to have their social media presence so refined.
This self-perception is particularly susceptible to intimidation on Instagram because there are so many cool images competing for attention.
Here’s the best rule of thumb for determining whether to jump in on Instagram or other social media platforms. If your brand has paying customers who keep coming back, your brand is interesting enough for social media. It’s just that simple.
Using this as a baseline for determining whether to join a network like Instagram, here are a few suggestions to make your online presence more appealing to your followers:
- Behind the scenes at your brand-People are interested in what goes on in your offices and other facilities. The want to know what your people look like, particularly if they are happy.
- User generated content-Encourage your users to engage by posting photos of their successes and experiences with your product. This content can be as effective as testimonials.
- Humorous moments-People like to laugh, especially with you. When something humorous happens, let people laugh with you, even if it is only a chuckle. The ability to laugh will become part of your brand’s online personality.
- Show how your product is made-The world is full of people who are curious about how things are made, what they are made from and where the materials are source. This kind of content can be particularly powerful if your brand endorses environmental values and supports sustainable business practices. Don’t just talk about your values, show them in action.
Instead of being intimidated by what other brands are doing, use them are resources to figure out what is working in the online world. This is an especially good approach with Instagram. Some brands succeed with casual, candid, off-the-cuff images and others have more stylized, filtered and composed images. Both can work well, so it really isn’t a matter of which one is best; it is a matter of what you can afford, and what will work for your brand.
One final word
On any site where you might be publishing images, be sure to read the terms and conditions concerning who owns what, both before and after you post the image. Every site has different terms and conditions, and they change all the time. If there is ever any doubt, write to the site and ask–get your questions answered by someone who is in the know and who is up-to-date.
About Ivan Serrano
Ivan Serrano is a journalist and infographic expert from San Jose, California. Though he has written on a multitude of topics, his passion lies in social media, tech and business. Outside of writing, Ivan particularly enjoys his photography and following his favourite sports teams.