Having your own business has its rewards. One of these is that when it comes to revenue, you are not limited to the fixed income a regular 9 to 5 job would usually offer. In fact, one can say that the harder you work, and the more you put in (in terms of time and effort, and even capital), the more you earn— if you do it the right way, of course.
Regardless of whether you are a retailer with a physical store, a wholesaler, or if your business is service-oriented, every business is scalable. One can start with just one store and then aim to add one or two branches per year. More or less, this allows the owner to multiply his earnings by the number of outlets. Another option is to expand by adding relevant products or services. And with the incredible innovation called the world wide web (“www” or “the web” to most of us), it has become easier to start and grow a business. It is also easier to reach your target market now and depending on the nature of your business, you might end up serving customers who live across the country, or even across the globe, even if you’ve never left your city since you were born.
But “easier” doesn’t mean “easy”. The planning stage of business alone takes a lot of time. Thinking and researching your product/s, pricing, and your target market doesn’t even stop once you launch your business. It’s an ongoing process that continues to evolve every single day. And now that we are in the digital age, a lot has changed in terms of how businesses operate. From marketing to communications and even organizing and how administrative tasks are done, everything has changed in one way or another. So, let’s talk about five apps that will help your business thrive in this day and age where practically everything about the business, especially marketing, can be done online.
User or not, everybody knows about Facebook. This is a very powerful platform used by billions of people to stay connected with family and friends--and now, to promote businesses as well.
You can use Facebook to create brand awareness. When you post quality content that resonates with your audience or target market, you create a following and encourage engagement. This, in turn, leads to brand loyalty. If they always see you on their newsfeed, and they occasionally like or leave a comment to appreciate your post, guess you they will think of the next time they need your product or service.
- With Facebook Ads, you can speak directly to your audience. You can create different ads for different audiences— whether it’s by age, male or female, location, etc. You can even target by which type or brand of cellphone they used to browse Facebook— this is especially useful for brand/model-specific apps or accessories. Facebook also allows you to see how your ad is doing and how well your audience is responding to your ads. This allows you to measure results and make appropriate changes if necessary.
- Launch promotions and get more followers. Who doesn’t love a good discount or a freebie? If you haven’t noticed, some business will offer big discounts on products or services in exchange for a “like and share”. Try it! If someone new to your page likes a post, you will actually get a notification to invite that person to like page and voila! Instant new followers and potential customer.
- Having a consistent following and continuous engagement with your audience on social media will also help boost your SEO rankings. Your content will get ranked higher by Google on the SERP (Search Engine Results Page) if you consistently post quality content that get likes on your Facebook Page; and the same goes for consistent “follows”.
“Like and share” promotions are not uncommon on Instagram either. Just make sure you create or change your profile to a business account so you can click “View Insights” and see how well your post did. You’ll see the number of people reached, how many people liked, commented, shared, or bookmarked your post. It will even tell you how many people bothered to visit your profile--that’s powerful information right there. You now can see which type of posts get to reach more people (and also which hashtags are effective), which type of posts people engage with, and which ones they especially appreciate that they’d bother to share your post or bookmark.
- It’s important to be clear about your brand’s identity and then put out content that resonate with your target audience. If you are selling baby clothes, for example, you probably won’t get as much business(if any) if your posts are about SEO and Social Media Marketing. Think about who would buy your products...most probably the moms, the aunts, and the godmothers. So, create content that moms, aunts, and godmothers would appreciate and engage with. Create posts relating to baby events like baby showers, baptisms, and 1st birthdays.
- A picture paints a thousand words, and you only have about a second to capture someone’s attention and make them stop scrolling down their feed. Once you miss that opportunity, you’ve missed the chance to connect with them. An image that will attract your audience’s attention will make them stop, look, and listen. They stop scrolling, they look at your post, and listen to what you have to say because stopping to look at the image you posted will also make them read your caption.
- Don’t forget your Call-to-Action (CTA). You’ll have to tell your audience what you want them to do next. Is it to check out your website by using the “link in bio” style? It can also be answering a question in the comments section, or perhaps to share the post in order to get a discount on their next purchase.
- Post regularly. It’s important to constantly communicate with your audience, but remember that it shouldn’t always be about selling your product. Be genuinely interested in your audience. Talk to them and get to know them. There’s nothing wrong with letting them know of a new product, or even giving 30% to 50% discounts (they’ll love you for this). But it wouldn’t hurt to share with them how you spent the last holiday and ask how they spent it or who they spent it with.
- Use those #hashtags, and not just one or two. The hashtags get your business searched on Instagram. Not everyone will know about your business name, but your niche will know the industry name, the category your products fall under, and even topics that are either dear to you or a common interest. For example, if your target audience are moms, they would not only be interested in your products; they’d also be interested in things like household products or organizers, and even “how-to” infographics that relate to a mom’s typical day. Always consider what they want to see and what help they might need. The more your posts are relevant to them, the more they will continue to follow your account and share your content.
- “Share-for-Share” is a good way to get your name out there. You can collaborate with other businesses so that you both share each other’s content. This allows your businesses to get more exposure. This can be an explicit collaboration or an implicit one where you just start sharing another business’ content and they eventually start sharing yours.
- Paid ads. Like Facebook Ads, this allows you to get more people to see your content and promotions. Undeniably a faster way to tell the world of your business’ existence.
If you’ve heard people talking about social media, pins, and boards, they’re probably talking about Pinterest. A common misconception about Pinterest is that it’s only used for collecting and posting beautiful pictures. It’s definitely more than that. With the number of boards (a board is a collection of pins) already in the billions, it is an endless source of ideas and inspiration. And guess who creates those pins and boards? Pinterest users and a good percentage of that 291 million active users (as of the first quarter of 2019), could be your niche. But Pinterest is not just a place to find more audiences. Let’s now look at how Pinterest can help your business thrive.
- Even without ads, you can drive targeted traffic to your website or sales page. When you post quality content on Pinterest, and others follow you and add your pin to their boards, their followers also get to see our pins. And when they click on the image, guess where they’re directed… to the website, you linked to your image.
- Pinterest Pins can help your business increase conversions because when people search on Pinterest, they are brought directly to the source.
- Get engagement that counts. Someone who saves your image is either really interested in your product or really appreciates what they saw. That person’s followers, of course, would trust her ‘taste’ and will potentially either follow you or even purchase from you; or at the very least, save or share your pin.
- Using Pinterest makes it easier to see what’s trending and in demand. This is valuable information because you can also make an assessment of your current product line or services and make changes if necessary… even better if you can innovate and come up with the next big thing in your niche.
**Now here’s a couple of simple but important reminders when setting up your social media accounts:
- Make sure your logo is clear and looks professional. Follow suggested image sizes and make sure the image resolution is very good.
- Also, a neat and professional-looking bio makes you more trustworthy.
- Last but not least, post content with intent. Don’t put something out there just for the sake of it. Think of your target market and make sure your content resonates with them. And of course, if you only have a handful of images to share, but want to start ASAP, you can curate content that you feel your audience will appreciate.
- Value before sales. There’s nothing wrong with trying to sell your products. That’s why you’re there in the first place. However, to capture your audience, it’s important to provide value first. Put yourself in their shoes. If you ‘follow’ a particular account, their posts show up on your feed. If you see images you like, find useful information or even amusing content, you’re happy to see their posts, right? You might even “miss” them if they stop posting for a week. But if an account you follow posts about their products day in and day out, with “BUY NOW!” captions screaming at you, it probably won’t take too long before you decide to ‘unfollow’ that account. Perhaps even if it’s your friend’s business.
Social Media Post Scheduling Apps
Since social media and businesses are practically inseparable, and posting on social media can really be time-consuming, having apps that allow you to create posts in advance for later posting can work wonders. Apps like Hootsuite, Buffer, Tailwind and Planoly let you schedule posts for several days (or even a month) in one sitting, you not only save time in terms of research and flow of thought; you also save some time on the posting itself. So, if you can save an average of 10 minutes a day, that’s a good 300 minutes a month or almost 61 hours a year that you can never get back.
Project Management Apps
Whether you work with a team or on your own, project management apps such as Trello and Asana help you have a dynamic visual of your workflow, and it helps you stay on track. Not only that— attachments can also be uploaded so that everyone in the team won’t have to check documents elsewhere for reference.
When working with a team, these apps are great for communications. It’s like having mini-meetings that take place virtually with the people involved not necessarily available all at the same time.
Projects can be organized according to workflow, and then tasks can be assigned to one or more members of the team who can then leave notes or move the task to another team whenever relevant or simply ‘complete’ the task when there’s nothing else to be done.
In the case of a property investor, for example, the first board can have several open tasks, each one containing a property that he wants to view. When those tasks are created, they are assigned to the person/s who are supposed to contact the real estate agents to schedule a viewing. Once done, the specific task can be moved to the next bucket or board that contains all the properties that have been scheduled for viewing and assigned to the person who’s supposed to meet with the real estate agent, and so on, until the property is either bought or the task is completed because the investor is no longer interested. If an out-of-the-ordinary situation comes up, one can simply assign the task to someone else to get a question answered or to get approval for something.
For someone who runs a small business that doesn’t involve too many steps in the workflow, but has multiple projects going on at the same time, there can be one board per project with the tasks for each project allocated accordingly with set deadlines. This easily gives one a visual of how the projects are going and since notes can be added to each task, it’s very easy to add comments and updates.
Every business has a potential for growth. With growing comes complications. Either you have more people on your team to manage, or more projects to complete, and the list goes on. As the workload increases, so do administrative tasks. Fortunately, we have these apps to help us reach our audience, save some time, and manage our projects as well.
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