We are proud to have Emily Winters with The Social Rising as a Marketing Resource at Raleigh Founded! Emily helps small business owners develop a social marketing strategy that saves them time while building an engaged digital community through proven processes that work. The Social Rising was founded by Emily Winters. With 10+ years of marketing and photography experience, Emily has worked with clients ranging from Fortune 500s to small family-owned businesses.

Emily wanted to offer some easy steps to help your Social Media presence! The Social Rising is offering 4 Monthly Free Brand Strategy Sessions for Raleigh Founded Members! Start by filling out this form and let Emily know you are a Raleigh Founded Member!

Running a thriving small business takes a special kind of person. You must be able to juggle competing priorities, have a passion for learning new skills, and have a drive that propels you forward when others would quit. There should be a personality type called small business owner because the skill set is so unique. Okay, maybe not quite, but if you’re a small business owner you know what I’m talking about. Above all traits, there is one that I believe is the most important, and that’s the ability to delegate tasks because in order to grow you have to know when to pass things off and when to keep them firmly under your control. For me, before I can do this, I have to understand how something works so I can find the right person for the job. Which brings me to the topic of today’s discussion: social media marketing.

Social media marketing, and for the sake of this conversation Instagram, is a big piece of the marketing puzzle for small businesses due to its low cost of entry. But to really stand out on social media you have to understand a few main strategic methods. And once you understand these pieces, you can decide who has the right skill set for the job! Let’s dive in.

First things first, your Instagram handle and profile. Your Instagram handle is the name that shows up at the top of your Instagram profile and it’s what people search for in that top search bar or when they want to tag you on a post. For this reason, your handle should be spelled correctly and have an obvious connection to your brand. For example, if you are a photographer, your handle should have “photographer” or “photography“ in it. If you are a jeweler, same idea: “jewelry” or “jeweler” should be in your handle. What you should not do is use symbols like a zero instead of the letter “O” or the number “1” instead of the letter “I”. This would remove your account from searches and hinder the discoverability of the small business you’re working so hard to promote.

Once you have your handle secured, optimize your profile. I highly recommend writing your profile in a bulleted list and using words that your ideal customer would be searching for as they relate to your product. Going back to the photographer example, you should have “photographer” somewhere in your bio as well as the type of photography that you specialize in. Instagram recently updated so that when a user puts something in the search bar, it is also scanning your profile. Use this valuable real estate to get more eyes on your content!

Another helpful way to expand your reach is by utilizing hashtags. There is a lot of conflicting information out there when it comes to hashtags, but in my experience using them does no harm, and more often than not it increases how many people see your posts. You can use a max of 30 hashtags on a post, but I usually use somewhere between 5 and 15 for my clients. When using hashtags the key is to mix up the ones you use, ensuring that each hashtag used on a post pertains to that post. I also recommend using hashtags that vary in the number of times they’ve been used, and never use those that have more than 1m uses. This might sound like a lot of work, but you can create a hashtag note on your phone, and just plug a handful in each time you post. You can also easily use the search bar to see how many times a hashtag has been used and find other related ones that are lower in use, therefore easier for your small account to show up in the discover section for that tag.

When it comes to the cadence of posts, it all comes down to what is sustainable for you. I always tell clients there is no point in posting every day if you’re going to use up all your content available in 2 weeks and then have to stop posting for a month until you have more to post. Instead, spread it out and post 2 times per week and be consistent. With social media marketing, consistency is key when building momentum and growing an account. You don’t have to post every day, or multiple times per day. Instead start small, pepper in a few extra posts as you can, and reassess a month down the road to see if you can increase in a sustainable way, while also devoting time to all the other parts of your business that move the needle.

With everyone’s attention span getting shorter, it’s super important for the copy on your posts to be easily scanned. This means using emojis to break up blocks of text and bulleting your main points so someone can ingest them quickly. I also like to vary the length of posts from long to short copy to give the audience a brain break every now and then. Another important piece of your copy is the call to action! This is so much more than saying link in bio. Ask your followers to comment, tag, drop an emoji, save, or share the post. All of these actions go a long way!

Arguably the most important piece of social media that often gets neglected is community engagement. Community engagement includes responding to direct messages, reposting story tags, replying to comments on posts, and most importantly, engaging organically with others before they engage with you. The simple act of commenting on others posts, in an authentic way will then encourage engagement back on your posts. There is so much more to community engagement than I can get into here, but just know it should be a big piece of your social media strategy!

I hope that you’ve found this Instagram overview helpful! As I said, I believe that a strength for small business owners is knowing when to delegate. But before you do that, you must first understand. My agency, The Social Rising, assists small business owners with their social media strategy in a variety of ways. If you’re interested in a complimentary consult, please reach out here! I offer social media strategy workshops which provide you with the overall framework for your Instagram so you can run your account yourself as well as ongoing retainer packages at a range of prices to make it accessible for all businesses. If you’re not quite ready to hit “purchase” give me a follow over on Instagram where I share tips like those included here! And don’t forget, you’re a superhuman with all the skills you need to succeed in your business. You got this!