When you’re running a small business social media is everywhere. And there’s no shortage of advice across the internet – all those experts telling you that you MUST be on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or whatever their favourite happens to be. Not to mention those success stories telling how a business was built from nothing just using social media.
But for every high profile success, there are hundreds of small businesses who are really struggling to make social media work for them.
They spend hours online every week and while they may build up a decent number of followers, translating fans into sales isn’t always easy.
If you want social media to work for your wedding business, then follow these 7 steps to an effective social media strategy.
Have clear goals
Be clear about what you want social media to do for your business.
Is it to generate new enquiries and leads?
Is it to build your network and raise your profile?
Is it to build and maintain relationships with customers and potential customers?
Each of these is a legitimate use of social media, but they require different approaches.
To generate new enquiries and leads you’ll need the platforms where your brides are hanging out, you’ll need to find ways of catching their attention AND getting them to take action. To get yourself in front of sufficient numbers of the right people you probably need to use paid advertising (otherwise it can be a very slow process).
If you want to network with other wedding professionals, look for ways you can connect and interact (Facebook groups and Twitter chats for example).
As a small business without a full time marketing department the amount of time and money you can spend will be limited. So there’s no point in spreading yourself too thin and trying to maintain an active presence on every social channel.
Pick one (or at the most 2) and really focus on nailing it.
Value your time
I often hear business owners say “Wedding Fairs are so expensive” (or magazine adverts, or Adwords). But social media can be extremely expensive on your time.
Measure the time you spend on social media and make sure you get sufficient return to pay yourself for that time.
Or think about how much it would cost if you paid someone to do it for you.
It’s fair enough when you are just starting out – you have plenty of time and not much cash. But as you get established your time will become more valuable and needs to be budgeted just as much as your money.
Do it well
Tempted to just take a quick snap and post it on Instagram while waiting to pick up the kids?
It’s one thing to be aware of the time you are spending, but don’t cut corners. Make sure your images are at least clear and attractive (not dark and blurry). Check your spelling. Post at the times your audience are online, not when you have a spare moment.
Keep your goals in mind and make sure every post contributes something to that goal.
Integrate into the rest of your marketing
When you look in detail at those businesses who built their success on social media, then you’ll find that they also used other techniques to capitalise and convert those fans into loyal customers.
Think about how you can move people from seeing something they like to making a booking. This is particularly hard on Instagram where you can’t include links within a post (unless you opt for paid advertising).
Work to a plan
With social media it’s vital to be disciplined and organised.
Discipline means turning up regularly – you can’t just post once a week and expect lots of sales.
Organised means planning your posts and making sure you are posting the right kind of thing to achieve your business goals. Inspirational quotes may get lots of Likes (so are a good boost to your engagement) but they won’t generate many sales. On the flip side – if you only post “buy my stuff” people will quickly switch off.
Remember that you have to both build your followers (and because this is the wedding industry you need a continuous flow of new followers) and engage with them. Create a content plan and use scheduling tools to deliver it.
Measure and Adapt
With social media, there’s no one size fits all. What works for one business may not work for you.
The only way to find out is to try something, measure the results and adjust. And repeat.
And remember that followers don’t pay the bills – you need to measure real enquiries and sales.