A Twitter-savvy crowd of social media professionals and enthusiasts took over Bow Truss last night during our Social Media Week panel. We invited Lisa Frame from SoYeahDuh; Johnny Auer and Blake Royer from Jamco Creative; and Michael Salvatore from Heritage General Store to share their tips for building a community around a small business and connecting with your audience on a more personal level.
Guests sipped freshly brewed coffee while snacking on dessert pairings courtesy of the Bow Truss team as our panel shared their unique perspectives on social media engagement. The speakers explained the importance of crafting a personal narrative, having transparency and frequently using visuals when building a community.
Here are some quick tips for small businesses looking to grow their brands through social media:
1. Find your story and tell it
“Look for the story behind the brand. If you don’t have a story to tell, it’s going to be difficult to succeed on social,” said Jonny Auer, founder of Jamco Creative. Jamco works directly with their clients helping them to identify an engaging personal story, find their voice and create a narrative using social media.
2. Be transparent
Social media is a great way to let people into your world and differentiate yourself from large companies with huge advertising budgets. Be transparent and let your followers see the journey your brand embarks on over time. “The whole process is documented so people can grow with it. People get to be part of the family,” said Michael Salvatore, owner of Heritage Bicycles. Salvatore and his wife own and opperate their cafe-slash-bikeshop and live above it as well.
3. Create engaging content
Lisa Frame, creator of viral hit SoYeahDuh, recommends using sites like IceRocket to see what is trending on the Internet. Businesses can use this information to find relevant content that engages new users. Once you are creating great content, don’t forget to reply to fans: “The number one thing you can do on social is respond. You can talk all day but once you respond people go nuts over it,” Frame said.
4. Don’t be afraid of failure
“You should never be afraid to show failure as long as there is a solution behind it,” Frame said. Showcasing these failures brings a human quality to your business: this is often what keeps your audience engaged. “The stories you tell while having a beer. Those are the stories that we need to be sharing on social media,” Auer said.
5. Incorporate visuals
“How do you get a message across? How do you reach a large group of people? A visual. The power of a visual is so strong,” said Blake Royer, creative director at Jamco Creative. As huge proponents of sharing stories through photos, the panel repeatedly shared their love of Instagram. “There’s something about sharing a visual from your phone that encourages more intimacy. It’s great for small businesses,” Auer said.