4 Ways to Use Social Media to Elevate Your Side Business
Many would argue that social media is the biggest breakthrough to grace humankind since the turn of the millennium. What started as a trendy way to connect with people online has turned into a phenomenon that gives everyone a voice to be heard across the world. By 2021, it’s estimated that the total number of social media users will eclipse 3 billion!
Thanks to the state of “constant connectedness” that social media created, the concept of launching, operating, and promoting a side business is easier than ever. If you play your cards right, this passion project can turn into a full-time job!
Social media has the potential to improve nearly every aspect of a business. However, the catch is that the platforms and user bases are always changing. The past couple of years have certainly been interesting times for major networks. Through it all, there are several key strategies that have proven to help serial entrepreneurs get their side businesses to the next level.
Let’s talk about 4 of the big ones.
1. Join Niche Groups on Facebook
When many people think about creating a social media presence, Facebook is likely one of the first networks to come to mind. The blue social media giant sent shockwaves through the business world at the beginning of 2018 with its big algorithm change announcement. In a nutshell, Zuckerberg and company wanted to bring Facebook back to its original roots of connecting people with others, rather than with brands. The algorithm prioritizes “meaningful interactions,” in that posts from family, friends, and groups would be placed higher in the News Feed than content from public pages.
Now, it’s no secret that running paid ads on Facebook is getting outrageously expensive as organic reach declines. At this point in running your side business, you might not have a big budget to play around with advertising. For this reason, getting involved in groups is perhaps the best way to get content placed high in the News Feed and in front of the most interested eyes. Being as how nearly 1/3 of the world’s population is on Facebook, there is a related group out there for just about anything, regardless of the side business you choose to pursue.
For instance, let’s say you are starting an online jewelry store. There are plenty of groups you can join to easily connect with consumers, partners, and all kinds of people in the jewelry biz.
In these groups, you can advertise products, services, content, and work to establish a network of like-minded individuals. Essentially, if you are active in these groups, you are doing a lot to create a (free) social presence and get your side business out there.
2. Build a Personal Brand
While the concept of personal branding has been around for ages, social media has refined and practically made it a necessity in today’s business landscape. There have been all kinds of studies and surveys conducted around the importance of personal branding over the past several years. The general consensus is that people trust other people significantly more than brands.
Social media gives a golden opportunity to develop a personal brand and humanize messaging in a way people can easily relate to. Furthermore, the goal of this process is to create a memorable voice and establish credibility. Take Neil Patel for example. As a marketing guru and founder of multiple companies, he does a fantastic job of posting his own informational content geared to help other marketers, business owners, and the common user.
Launching a business these days is all about putting a face in front of the brand. Fortunately, social media makes this prospect more attainable than ever.
Start by defining the unique characteristics of the ideal customer(s) you want your side business to reach.
- Who are you trying to appeal to?
- What are their demographics?
- How does your ideal customer talk?
- What are their interests?
- What are their goals?
- What are the social networks they typically use?
- Do they prefer more visual content?
These are the types of questions you need to ask yourself when creating an impactful personal brand. If done correctly, your personal brand content can be a more powerful weapon in gaining support than your typical messaging.
3. Use More Video
If you’ve looked at any social media platform in the past couple of years, whether it be Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, ect., you have probably noticed that videos make up a substantial amount of the content. This is a trend that certainly will not slow down any time soon. Zuckerberg himself went on record saying he believes most online content will be video in the future. As you can probably guess, the new Facebook algorithm favors video substantially. In fact, a video on Facebook typically receives a 135% more organic reach than a photo.
As is typically the case in a side business, you probably don’t have the capital to purchase heavy duty video production equipment just yet. Fortunately, your smartphone (and maybe a few add-ons) should do the trick for now.
Perhaps the best part about video marketing is getting to showcase the brand personality and leaving an impression on viewers that you simply cannot get with text-heavy content. When trying to grow a side business (or any type of business for that matter), video should be a tool that creates instant brand recognition. Dollar Shave Club is a perfect example of how to do this.
The voice, tone, and overall feel of this video does a great establishing authenticity and presents a personality people can actually relate to. Being as how this product is primarily geared towards men, it seems like the co-founder, Michael Durbin (the person in the video), is a guy giving a friend a casual recommendation.
In regards to video content, side business owners should also plan on doing a fair amount of live streaming, especially if millennials make up any part of the target audience.
There are many different ways live streaming can help bring your side business to the next level. You can host live Q&A sessions, provide sneak peaks, give people a behind-the-scenes look at how you operate, discuss the latest news in the industry, etc. One of the greatest characteristics of live video is you get to present your brand in a candid light so people get to know the “real” you without fancy editing and camera tricks.
If you want to grow your presence with social media, video is no longer just a flashy option, it’s practically a requirement. Regardless of your side business, be sure that the major live streaming platforms, like Facebook, YouTube, Periscope, LinkedIn, etc. have a role in your approach.
4. Collaborate Wisely
From a business perspective, the networking aspect of social media is a gold mine. If you are creating good connections, this opens the door for all sorts of collaboration down the road. Another term for this is influencer marketing. This tactic is a great way to expose content to new people, expand your reach, and showcase messaging in a whole different light. However, as great as this all sounds, you shouldn’t promote your side business by collaborating with just anyone who shares your interests. Bad collaborations can do a lot of harm.
For example, if your side business involves selling clothes, you’d probably want to collaborate with an Instagram model to advertise your products. The person you choose to work with should accurately reflect the style, and their personal brand should align with your core values. Let’s say you place an emphasis on environmental awareness in how the clothing is made. The people, brands, and personalities you collaborate with should fall in line with this.
Collaborations are an essential ingredient in growing a business these days. Be sure to do your research on any potential candidates you are considering for your side business. Look at the type of content they post.
- What is their general tone?
- Do they have a similar vision?
- What do they like posting about most?
- Would they actually use your product or service?
Take your time with this.
Over to You
Running a side business is certainly difficult, especially if it’s in addition to a full-time job. The good news is social media gives a myriad of opportunities to bring it to the next level without a gigantic budget. You just need to know the game and how to play it to your advantage.
Keep in mind, the strategies that work like magic now may very well be obsolete in the near future, making it extremely hard to “future proof” your strategies. Be sure you are keeping up with the latest social media buzz and how you can refine your approach.