Being a small business means we provide a more unique and tailored service because customers are dealing directly with us . There are no layers to get through before you can contact the CEO (because we are it!). And you can talk direct to your customers in your voice (not using a third party because you have outsourced your social media or it is being done by a member of your huge marketing department).
So you should have a social media marketing calendar that is unique to you.
Social media content calendars are easily accessible online, with many available free to download. But how can a one size fits all be right for every business, when each one is unique? Whether you are a major brand with big marketing budgets and agencies on retainer or a small business like myself, surely the same rules apply. It is unlikely that a major brand like Nike or Starbucks use a freely available template for their social media content so why would they work for us?
And how many times have you heard marketing experts tell you, ‘your content needs to be engaging and relevant’ or ‘unique’ without explaining what those words mean. And they are often the ones offering free social media content calendars so how does a one size fit all relate to being engaging or unique.
I offer Social Media workshops for free because I am passionate to share how other small businesses can build an authentic relationship with their customers. And when I initially set up my business I went to as many free workshops as I could to understand the difference in marketing a small business (my background is marketing and business development with major corporate businesses). But I was disappointed to hear the phrases above. I willed the workshop teacher to give examples of what they meant so we at least could understand the practical application behind the theory.
So I decided to set up my own, where I can share both what I know working with major brands from department stores to supermarkets and football clubs (and lots in between) and what I have learn from marketing my own business. I do not pretend to be an expert, I am just happy to share what I know and hopefully help other small businesses like me.
I hope by the end of this, you will have confidence to develop compelling posts that show who you are, what you stand for and how you want to help customers.
Developing Social Media Content
If you want a quick (but possible not very effective) solution, you can download one of the freely available social media calendar templates (often used by businesses to capture your email so they can market to you). Pick a search engine and type in ‘Free Social Media Marketing Calendar’, plus the words ‘template’ or ‘Plan’. You will be shocked at how many choices you have in front of you.
The one word of caution is that they are generic and I would not recommend.
You could do your own by using a few market-known principals, for example, there are a number of subjects that are proven to be more engaging with customers from testimonials to videos. Below is a list of subjects you could use (any of which could be a video) to develop your own unique plan.
I appreciate that this is a general list, the uniqueness comes as you are telling your own story (which no one else has!!).
- Your background – introduce yourself and keep your followers updated with stuff happening in your life (business related, plus stuff like pets, hobbies etc)
- Why you started your business – helps followers understand a bit more about why you are passionate about your business
- Developing your brand – how did you do it?
- Your offer – what product/service are you providing to who and to achieve what
- Behind the scenes – latest delivery, how you make something
- Testimonials – positive feedback from customers (from reviews on facebook and Linkedin to comments on different platforms – all powerful information for prospective customers
- Poll – run a survey on a new product/service or idea
- Workspace – show where you work (could be messy one day, organised another – showing real work life)
- Tips and hints – hacks on doing things
- Funny story – could be work or home
- Hobbies – share what you do out of work
- Mishaps – when things go wrong (shows you are human)
- Plans – share how you want to develop your business (and maybe ask for feedback)
- Question and answers – request customer questions about what you do
You could use the above to post every other day or repeat twice and post nearly every day of the month. Or if you want to go wild and crazy, develop four for each topic and post twice a day.
The magic is putting your own twist on each subject. Your background is unique to you and so is why you started your business etc.
You may have noticed there is very little about selling (even number 4 is more about what you do for customers and what the benefit is vs ‘buy me’. You would still be talking about your product or service but in a ‘non salesy’ way. I have proposed this consciously because if a customer likes what they see and hear, the decision to buy from you will be an easy one.
And you can include information on your product/service in addition to the above – especially special access to customers or special offers (which would be appealing to your ideal customer).
Use Your Advantage
Customers buy into you more than your business. There may be lots of businesses that are similar to yours but you can still standout in your market.
Think about what makes you unique, including your experience, your background (including previous career if applicable), why you started your business, how you got here, what you stand for.
Your UNIQUENESS is your true superpower
Consider your favourite brand or one that you aspire to. What is it about that brand that makes you feel good? What is unique about them?
Starbucks is a fab example of leveraging its uniqueness. For a company that in essence sells coffee, they understand they are about providing a great customer experience which is the same across the world. It is the largest coffee house in the world, yet excels at connecting with its customers.
Howard Schultz, company President and CEO quote – “We’re in the business of human connection and humanity, creating communities in a third place between home and work.”
It is the only coffee brand that is on the list of 100 most recognized brands in the world. Why? Because Starbucks strives to be more than more than a place where you buy coffee…..
Simple, powerful and clear. The whole marketing (and business) strategy revolves around this.
And Starbucks’ followers demonstrate this…….
UK – 1.5m followers on Facebook, nearly 300k on Instagram, 600k on Twitter
Worldwide – 37m followers on Facebook, 18m on Instagram, 11.2m on Twitter
- Facebook – designed for providing information, including distinct photos of their drinks, lots of videos, tabs for store locations and job opportunities.
- Instagram – eye-catching photos and videos (of drinks but more importantly of customers enjoying these drinks). And they respond to customer comments
- Twitter – like Instagram to connect with their followers on a personal level to build relationships and engagement
(It is fun to find out what makes your favourite brand unique – choose a search engine and type in ‘what makes x brand unique).
Question for you…………
If Starbucks can stand out as a coffee house, what is your stand out.
You can have the same impact with your own brand. Imagine connecting with your customers so they get to know you and choose to buy from you because of that.
Your social media content should be as unique as you are – not a standard one size fits all or lots of sales messages.
A lot of customers use social media to decide who to buy from. They will trust the comment and reviews of other customers too so it is so important that you interact with your customers. So social media suddenly becomes a major part of your business plan (not just a marketing activity that is ‘nice to do’
It is so much more than using a generic social media marketing calendar so you post something rather than nothing. It needs a clear strategy that is about you, your business, your values, what you stand for.
Think of social media as your shop window. It is the place customers look into before buying from you. How many times do you check out a business online before making a purchase, including what other customers have said. I always do!!
Getting inspiration from other successful brands could help.
First step is identifying what makes you stand out (what is your uniqueness). Write down
- Who you are
- What is your background
- What your business is
- What your values are
- Who your ideal customer is
- What your offer is
- What customer issue you solve through your product/service.
This will guide you on the key messages you want your customers to hear.
Next, you could use the list of content in number 2 of this blog. It can give you a structure and help you build the above list under each category.
Collating photos, images, testimonials and reviews will also help. If you have them already, great. If not, decide what photos and images you want and develop them. For reviews and testimonials, ask some friendly customers (you will be surprised how pleased they will be because it is a compliment to them that you want their opinion).
Note: this is also a great opportunity to get User Generated Content (technical term for using other people’s images and sharing posts). It is a brilliant way to get customer engagement because they will tell all their friends they are being featured). This should be an ongoing strategy.
GoPro is a fab example of this
Key actions are monitoring your social media to find content that includes your product/service or features it. You can repost or incorporate it into one of your posts (remember to give your customer credit as this is essential for it to be effective)
Wow nearly ready to populate your calendar. Download a free monthly calendar or print off (depending whether you are old school and still like pen and paper – nothing wrong with that!!).
There are loads of free version online, from simple black and white versions to ones including ornate images (I quite like the floral ones myself!).
So last bit of developing your own unique content for your social media calendar is deciding which message and image to promote which day.
And remember to have fun. Because this is all about your business!!