Fun fact: 53 percent of all Internet usage time in 2017 is spent on the top five social media platforms.
53 percent!

These days, social media isn’t just an important part of the Internet – it is the Internet. It’s where the majority of our online time and attention is, and for better or for worse that’s not changing anytime soon.

Largely, we have our mobile phones to thank.

Just look around you while your car is stopped at the shops, at home.. in their car at traffic lights. Everyone is on their phone, ALL THE TIME. People aren’t looking out the window at billboards anymore, or checking their mailbox for mail, or watching TV in real time without skipping the ads.

They don’t care about anything that doesn’t interest them because they have a little handheld device that gives them direct access to everything that does – pictures of family and friends on Facebook, or clothes on Insta, or puppy videos on Youtube.

With a mobile phone, people are able to drown out the stuff they don’t like – ads, waiting, awkward conversations – and focus on the stuff they do. And 2017, most of that ‘stuff’ isn’t just on the Internet – it’s on social media.

As a service-based business trying to get noticed and build clients, it simply can’t be ignored or managed in a half-ass way anymore. If you want to succeed, you need to be where the eyeballs of your potential customers are and right now that’s on social media.

The future of marketing isn’t in letterbox drops, it’s in Facebook. And Instagram. And Snapchat. Why blanket drop 10,000 flyers into the letterboxes of people who don’t care, probably aren’t even checking it and more than likely will get annoyed by a flyer even if they do, when you can market your services on Facebook by making up an ad campaign for (say) tanning services targeted to (say) females aged 18 – 30 within 10km of your business with an interest in tanning.

It just makes sense.

This begs the question – why isn’t everyone doing it? And for those that are – why aren’t they all overflowing with clients and business?

Here’s the thing.

‘Doing’ social media doesn’t guarantee success any more than riding a bike guarantees an Olympic medal in cycling. There’s ‘doing’ social media, and there’s doing it well. To get the most out of social media, there’s a few things you need to know.

1. Add value First, Sell Later

If you’re just trying to sell your service on social, you’re probably going to lose. Social media by its very nature isn’t a sales platform. It’s a marketing platform designed for storytelling and relationships.

It’s for sharing content that people find valuable, entertaining and/or informative. Usually, that comes in the form of content from family and friends – videos, photos, comments. Producing advertising in the traditional sense (‘buy my service!’) on social media just doesn’t fit in when it’s sandwiched between pics from Sally’s 21st and Uncle Sam’s holiday in Italy.

In fact, it’ll probably do your business more harm than good.

The key to social media is to provide helpful, valuable content over, and over.. and over, and over, and over. If it’s not something that you think your potential clients would ‘like’ or share, don’t post it.

Then, once you’ve provided so much value that people respect, trust and like you – THEN, you can post a sales focussed post. But just one.

This type of content fits in on social media platforms and builds trust and rapport in your business. By approaching social media this way, you’re encouraging potential clients to come to YOU – rather than begging them for their business.

You’re providing them with so much value that they WANT to do business with you. They’ll ‘like’ your page and engage with your content, and then when they eventually do need your service, you’re already top of mind.

2. Social Media Won’t Save a Shit Business

The thing about social media is that it’s, well, social. And if your business sucks, dedicating resources towards ‘doing’ social media is useless at best – and downright harmful at worst.

Producing content for Facebook, Instagram and the other social networks is a two-way street – people are able to comment and review any shortcomings in your business for all to see. If they have had a negative experience, it will be reflected on Facebook.

If you’ve got kinks to iron out in your business (or if you’re just flat-out not good enough yet), it’s better to dedicate your time and resources to improving your biz before you consider a strong social media presence.

It works in reverse, too. Social media is the modern day plumbing infrastructure for word of mouth.

When people have a great experience, social media is often the best way of passing on the message. When people speak favorably about your business online, you can bet that there are others listening – that is the power of social media.

3. Creative is KEY

These days on Facebook, just 2% (on average) of the people who like your page actually see your content. Why? Because Facebook got BUSY. There are 150,000 + pieces of information waiting to be shown to you every single time you open your account. Receiving all of it would be overwhelming, so Facebook has come up with a way of showing you just the content that it thinks you will be interested in. Mostly, this is the stuff your family and friends share.

Also, if you’ve been engaging with the content from a particular page you’ve ‘liked’ in the past, that will sometimes show too. The other content, for the most part, never even makes it to your newsfeed. That’s why it’s so damn important to put a solid effort into the content that you are producing for your social media channels.

Good content is rewarded. It attracts engagement and appears more often in the newsfeeds of the people who like your page. This is where smaller businesses are really able to compete with the big players with even bigger budgets. If your organic (ie non-paid) content is good – and that is, if it is worthy of engagement and sharing – it will compete on a level playing field with every other business on Facebook. Even if that business is Pepsi.

That’s why it’s so bloody important to make sure that the content that you put on your social media accounts is top notch.

4. Flash some cash

Make no mistake, advertising on Instagram and Facebook is the best deal going in digital marketing at this present time. It won’t stay like it forever. As more people begin to understand the power and laser-sharp targeting abilities of these ad platforms and the relatively inexpensive costs of advertising, it will become more and more popular, and the price will rise accordingly.

Get. In Now. Trust me, you’ll look back in two years and reminisce wistfully about the golden days. The ability to target on these platforms is incredible.

Want to have your content seen just by 30 – 35 year old males with an interest in finance and who have just purchased their first home? Or people within 10km of you who have just graduated from uni and have an interest in entrepreneurship? Or that work for Price Waterhouse and love cycling? It’s all possible. And with the decline of organic Facebook reach, it’s even more important to consider amplifying your content with advertising spend in order to ensure maximum reach and impact.

This comes with a caveat. Have an offer that people want before you spend a cent. No advertising even has a chance of working if you don’t have a compelling offer that people are interested in.

5. Social Media comes last, not first

Social media isn’t a substitute for the business foundation that needs to be set in place in order to market a business. It comes LAST; after a website, and sales pages, and email marketing, and so on. Posting pretty pictures on Facebook or Instagram doesn’t create solid ROI.

In fact, it’s the perception that pretty pictures is all that social media is that often puts people off really dedicating time into it in the first place.

The thing to understand is this. Social media is the honey pot that draws people in. Once they like your content and your business, you can then lead them onto other platforms to sell your service. It comes last, once you have the infrastructure in place to direct the people interested in doing more than just consuming your content into your business.

6. Social Media is a Marathon, Not a Sprint

Social media is all about building relationships by producing valuable content without expectation. It’s simple, but it’s hard and it doesn’t happen overnight.

It’s a marathon, not a sprint. People won’t buy on their first interaction with you. It takes time and patience! Chip away and providing outstanding value, and in time the results will come.

More on Stevie Says Social

Stevie Says Social helps service-based businesses nail their Social Media Marketing and Content Marketing efforts. If you feel like you need to uplevel your knowledge in the social realm hit follow here to get the latest tips and tools from Stevie herself.