Daunting – that’s what it can be when everyone else appears to know far more about something than you do. Jupon’s Gary Wilkins is starting from scratch on the social media ladder and will be updating us each month, one rung at a time
What is Social Media, and why do we need it for our business? Social media is the fastest-growing way of showcasing your business, a way to get the word out to a group of followers in an easy click. Think of social media as you would your shop; you do great window displays to encourage the brides through your doors but what about the people walking behind your building or to the side who don’t see the amazing display? This is where social media comes into play.
Your website will show most, if not all, of the products you sell, but do people scroll down page after page on websites anymore? No, they don’t. But you can showcase your offering across the social media platforms, and direct your audience back to your website.
This is how it works: You have a fabulous dress that you think will sell well; you put it in your window, photograph it, and post the photograph on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. A few hashtags later and you are displaying your window – and that dress – to a broad target audience of brides-to-be bride who will then click through to your website to see what else you have. And then, hopefully, they will contact you to make an appointment that will lead
to a sale for you.
All of this is free advertising for your shop and the real beauty of it is that it only takes ten minutes of your time each day to set the stage for exposure and start maximising on potential.
All that said, social media can be a scary couple of words to those who haven’t been there, done it, and reaped the rewards. Yes, most of us all dabble in a little bit of Facebook, maybe even Twitter, but the rest of the social platforms seem to escape those of us who are not categorised as ‘the younger generation’. Well I am here to tell you this: please don’t be afraid… it’s not as bad as you think!
Social media for business is now a must-do; its popularity over the platforms has now increased and it is a free way of advertising and promoting your business, your products, and your service. Yes, I said FREE, so why waste that opportunity?
Many businesses think that you need to hire someone with specific training or experience to do the job for you, and this alone – in a climate where we all have to watch and control expenditure – deters most people from getting involved and moving forward.
But why do you need to hire someone? Who knows more about your business than you and the few trusted people that work with you? Can you afford another wage? Do you want to grow your business? These are the questions you should be asking yourself right now.
From the beginning
Jupon first started promoting on social media some three or four years ago. I began with a Facebook business page and Twitter; the accounts are easy enough to set up but if you get stuck, another social media platform – YouTube – provides videos that are often far easier to follow than instructions via a lengthy read.
I would put up the odd post but didn’t really pay it great attention; this is where I failed. Social media thrives on new content; in other words, it is essential to put up posts regularly.
At Jupon we outsourced our social media to a small company. Great, I thought, it is out of my hands. Wrong! The company who were doing the work did a great job, but I couldn’t help but sit there and think, this is something I can do easily; I have all the images and know my company, my products, and my industry well.
So I made the brave decision to take it over again.
This time Google was my friend. I asked it a few simple questions to guide me through what I needed to do and then I was away, making posts and tweets to my wall and building a larger audience of followers.
I am a Facebook user myself and this was the easiest platform for me to operate. When I designed the website some years ago I made two entrances – one for the bride and one for the trade – so the bride can see our beautiful range but not the prices. I made myself easily contactable through Facebook messenger, so I could help a bride and advise her on what styles she needed and where she could purchase them, while being there for the retailer if they had any questions.
Most social media platforms link to each other so a post on Facebook would also be copied and placed on my Twitter feed – two platforms covered with one post… that’s a bonus! You do need to log on to each account regularly to read people’s comments, answer messages, follow back, and of course, to add new content. I found that doing this on my phone, while chilled on the sofa in the evening, was the best time for me and also a time when my posts would get seen by the audience I wanted.
I fast discovered that social media was becoming a massive influence on our business; I would post something in the evening and the next day I’d be taking orders for that product.
I decided, after hearing so much about their success rate, that Instagram and Pinterest were the next best thing, so I created accounts for both. Jupon is now on Instagram. Instagram is pictures rather than words, although the hash tag is a huge feature. In simple terms, the hash tag is either your relevant key words or what is trending at the moment. When you hashtag an item such as #weddingdresses your image will be directed at a specific, and proven, interested group.
Great! Jupon is now active on three social media platforms, with one post that takes around five to ten minutes’ work in the evening, and being seen by hundreds and thousands of potential customers.
I now use Instagram to create a post as there’s an option to send it to my Facebook wall and Twitter feed. I tend to pick a trend or situation – for example, when we were having heavy rain, I posted a photo of our lovely umbrellas, using a few hashtags relevant to my business. I click a post and then have it on three platforms, seen by huge numbers. When the phone rings or the email pings the next day, I know I have generated free business for my company. It’s a great feeling.
Next month I’m going to focus on Pinterest and why I believe it is the biggest platform for your business and a must-have for all bridal retailers.