Beginners Guide to Social Media
by Lance Roylo
How big is big? How do 3.2 billion people or 42% of the human population sound? Now let's give this some context. It takes approximately 11 ½ days to count to a million. Any guess how long it takes to 1 billion? (I'll give you a second). 31 years, 251 days, 7 hours, and 46 minutes. So you were a wee bit off I bet. Now with the sheer magnitude of what a billion people are, you can understand the sheer amount of people you are able to reach with social media. Before we get into this checklist you must understand a few things. Firstly, this is a beginner's guide. This guide is to get you correctly set-up to start making moves. Secondly, social media is not a "set it and forget it" type of thing. You need to imagine that your social media profiles are living and need to be tended to. I get it, it sounds silly, but if you forget it, your customers or potential customers will forget you even exist, so keeping an active profile is essential to getting the most out of these platforms. The key takeaway is this, if you're not going to do it correctly, then really, why bother doing this at all? Like your business, you get out of it what you put in, so put in the effort, be patient, and watch as customers come walking through your door that would have only found you had it been through the power of social media. Now let's get started.
Determine your goals
Are you a brand new business trying to conjure up excitement about your store opening? Are you looking to get feedback on certain dishes or the service your customers are receiving? Determine the goals that will make an impact on your business and remember that these goals will evolve as the needs of the business change.
Choose the platforms
This is a big one. You don't want to waste your time on platforms where your target audience is not. You probably shouldn't create a TikTok account if you run a high-end French cuisine restaurant where your average patron is aged 42 (TikTok users average are 16-24). Do a little research and determine where people look for food reviews or pictures of food. Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, and our very own FoodFights app are great places to find these potential customers. Whichever platforms you decide to create a profile on, remember that you have to be able to update frequently and always be prepared for customer questions and comments.
Prepare your profile
Okay, you've chosen your platforms. Now is the time to prepare your profile for posts. Please fill out any relevant information fields and don't skimp or leave it off for later. Fill out your address, hours of opening, phone #, web URL, about section, and so on if such fields are available. What's the point of people finding you if they have no idea where you're located or how to get in touch with you. Your profile picture is essential, all too often, I've gone to business profiles across various platforms only to see a photo of the owner or very pixelated images of the logo — not a good look. The picture or image you use should be sharp and in focus, NOT YOU, and is either your brand logo or something that is associated with your place of business. If Photoshop isn't in your wheelhouse, I highly recommend using Canva.com. It's free to use and can help you quickly make graphics for your profile.
START CREATING CONTENT
You don't need a professional camera. I repeat you do not need a professional camera. All you need is a camera or the phone you're probably reading this on right now and lighting. An okay camera with great lighting will always be better than a super expensive camera with bad lighting. If you want to give your photos that extra pop by editing it, I highly suggest using VSCO or Adobe Lightroom mobile (both are FREE).
Store content and build a content calendar
Now that you've started taking photos, start storing your pictures in a folder, and create a posting schedule and stick to it. It's easy to quit posting after not getting a HUGE following or engagement right away, but that's not the way it works. You have to earn people's engagement. It's about the little wins like your very first followers and first likes. This takes time. Take quality photos and make any relevant content as often as possible, but if you can't, rely on your stored photos to fill the gaps when you're short on pictures. Eventually, you will learn what days and time of day your followers or potential followers are most active, and you'll be able to adjust your posting schedule to this.
Utilize cross-promotion to maximize your reach and impressions. Use your website and email list to drive viewers to your social media profiles and vice-versa. The more exposure you have across profiles, the higher the reach and impressions you'll have.
Remember that those posting photos of your food and tagging you, those leaving reviews or comments, are generally helping you. If it is a positive comment or a beautiful picture of your goods, they are giving you their stamp of approval. Make sure you are there to engage with them and thank them. If they have an issue, make sure to respond promptly. User-generated content is the ultimate engagement with a business, and we'll get into why in a later article. The key takeaway is that when someone takes a photo at your business, they are ultimately telling their friends, family, and followers that they approve of your business and what you have to offer.
Iterate and adjust
As I mentioned earlier, social media is a living thing. It's always moving; it's ever-evolving. Your business profiles need to do the same. As you continue to post and engage with those posting about your business, you will learn about your customers and potential customers. With these learnings, you will be able to decipher what kind of content or style your followers best engage with. Use these learnings beyond social media and let it influence your service or the look and feel of your business.
It can be discouraging to not see immediate results. Even the most prominent brands take time to build up their social media. We all know the cliche’ sayings about great things taking time, building a great social media presence is no different. It takes time and effort.
Last but not least
Be authentic. Be you. Tell your story through photos, videos, and blogs to tell people who you are, why you're here, and what you can do for them. A cup of coffee is a cup of coffee at the end of the day, but why should someone go out of there way to visit your coffee shop that sells this specific cup of coffee. Tell me and show me why. Remember that authenticity is more important than polish to today's social media user, and to build that trust, you have to be authentic. Authenticity cannot be bought, so take this opportunity to be creative and to share your business's uniqueness.