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Insta-hero or business zero?

BLog instagram

With a surge of enthusiasm from my team I was persuaded into tackling Instagram. Which means that now every morning I get into my bikini, take a selfie of me eating candy and hash-tag it with as many populist expressions as possible to ensure I get noticed.

O.k. that’s not what happens on my account. That is however, what I thought Instagram was all about. As a person who has an utterly entrenched aversion to being inflicted with other people’s holiday photos, I imagined Instagram to be a terrifyingly boring experience, which would result in me getting depressed over the current trend of extreme narcissism.

In a world first, I have somewhat been proven wrong. There is some wonderfully innovative imagery on Instagram. For the non-wordsmiths out there it is the perfect forum to let their creativity be seen.

In same ways I feel Instagram is easier to master for small businesses than Facebook, it’s a simpler tool where you literally snap and go. The words you use aren’t that important, and in a way neither are the images. Your audience is far less protective over their accounts and more willing to let businesses into their ‘feeds’ than on Facebook. It is also commonly known as a shopping tool, so your audience is already primed to have things sold to them.

However, I’ve noticed that certain types of businesses are far better suited to Instagram than others. Outdoor adventure, travel and fashion are absolutely made for Instagram. It’s the businesses that sell life-styles, ideals and dreams which can easily pitch to us a better version of our lives and selves.

A quick Google search tells me that the top followed companies in the world are ones such as Audi, Tiffany and co., Gucci, Nike and Burberry. All of these brands market by telling us we could be better, we could have more status, live a life of luxury and style by wielding or wearing one of their elite products. So where does that leave a candy store?

I have been trying to figure out Sarkara’s niche area on Instagram and am still very much in the beginning stages. I always suggest that brands establish an identity before undertaking any social media. I decided Sarkara’s is to be fun, quirky and informal. Our brand identity is a little off the wall, a little crazy and always bright. So far we have concentrated on imagery that shows us getting creative with our candy. But next month I’ve decided to move us into a more personable zone and feature Sarkara’s wonderful team more.

In the end, social media requires monitoring to determine what works best for your brand. It can be awfully time consuming for a small business and it can be scary opening yourself up to negative comments on new communications channels.   But every brand can have a voice even the seemingly mundane ones. For Sarkara instead of selling an unattainable lifestyle our best bet is to sell the idea of attainable fun. By coming into Sarkara, by buying that wee piece of nostalgic candy, your day will be better. That is our primary social media goal.

Although proven wrong, in that there are many worthwhile images and causes on Instagram, I still firmly believe that using superficial means is the quickest and surest route to Instagram stardom. So if any of the Hadid sisters or really good looking people who live in their togs by a pool are interested in eating candy and taking photos of themselves, I would guarantee Sarkara could reach 50,0000 followers within six months.

But as I’ve had no daringly dashing volunteers to assist me,  I’ll be stuck trying to entice followers by good ol’ fashioned creativity and tongue in check humour, with the goal of reaching 500 followers in six months.

The above is an important point for small business owners to understand. Social media success is unlikely to be over night. It’ll take a bit of work, consistency and long-term faith to make it work. So, having previously designed workshops for social media and studied (mainly Facebook) in detail in my previous life, I’ve put together a wee list of dos and don’ts for small businesses taking on social media:

DO

  1. Decide who you are and what your persona will be i.e. tone of voice, style of images
  2. Set three primary goals i.e. more visits to your website, higher levels of brand awareness or specific targeting of new markets.
  3. Take the time to look at other brands you admire on social media. It will help you’re creative ideas flow.
  4. Organise yourself. Have a monthly schedule in place, don’t update on the hoof, as you’ll find it stressful and won’t ensure consistency with your messaging.
  5. Respond to anyone who reached out to you, even if they say something negative. It’s a great opportunity to bring back a potentially lost customer through great online customer service.
  6. Use Facebook ads. It’s a cheap form of advertising with a pretty good reach. Take the time to target and see which ads get the most clicks. Information, after all is power.
  7. Offer social media promotions as a reward to those following you.

DON’T

  1. Leave your social media account idle for too long. You should be updating at least weekly.
  2. Open up too many channels before you’re ready. Test the waters with the channel that suits your company best. If you’re looking to target 30s-50s then go for Facebook, if your demographic is younger, then start with Instagram. But try to only open the can of worms  you can successfully handle.
  3. Be a person, instead of being a brand. Keeping this in mind will ensure you keep your distance from being too personable on social media. Remaining professional is always essential.
  4. Give up if the likes aren’t streaming in, it is really hard for regional small businesses to gain traction.
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