You’ve heard that social media—particularly Facebook—is vital for small, local business owners. But why? In many ways, social media has become its own form of search. Many people today search on Facebook before ever turning to Google when they’re looking for a local business. They turn to their social network and ask for recommendations or referrals for whatever service they need. (“Can anyone recommend a good plumber in the Albany area?”) For most people, it’s easier to poll their friends and family for trustworthy input than to blindly scroll through search engine results. This makes it crucial for you to create and maintain a presence on Facebook (and other social media platforms), where locals are already looking for and discussing your products and/or services. This way, they can find you without having to navigate to another website. And when they do find your Facebook page, they’ll see your posts, photos, reviews, and contact information—basically, everything they need to decide whether they want to give you a call.
But How Can You Stand Out Without Paying?
Unfortunately, the most effective way to grab attention on social media is to pay for sponsored posts. Facebook and other social media platforms want to make money from ad revenue, so they’ve severely restricted the organic (i.e. unpaid) reach of company pages. In other words, if you want your posts to reach a larger audience, you have to pay. However, due to tight budgets and a rugged opposition to being forced to do anything, many small business owners are reluctant to pay for each and every post. Completely understandable. However, since being on social media is no longer optional, you need to find a workaround. So how do you stay competitive in a game that largely follows a pay-to-play model? How do you keep from blending in with all the organic static? That’s what we’re going to look at in this post. There’s no silver bullet for beating Facebook’s algorithms, but there are certain things you can do to ensure your posts are as interesting and engaging as possible for the people who see them. Keep reading to discover how you can stand out in your audience’s news feed for free!
1. Don’t Write Long Posts
Let’s face it: Most people don’t like reading. (We hope you’re not one of them, because you’re already more than 300 words into this blog post…) So, if you’re sharing a status update, keep it short and sweet. This is especially true for when you have a specific piece of information you want to communicate. By and large, your audience isn’t likely to read more than a few lines of text, so make sure your updates are straight to the point. Say what you need to say, and hit “Send.”
2. Write Posts With Your Readers in Mind
If your posts have a lot of technical jargon, too many ten-letter words, or just generally don’t appeal to your audience’s sensibilities, then they aren’t going to grab your audience’s attention. Avoid this problem by asking yourself:
- What are your audience’s interests?
- What do they care about?
- What kind of problems do they want to solve?
Mold all of your posts—written or visual—to fit what your audience wants to hear about. It may seem like a no-brainer, but don’t bother posting anything that doesn’t apply to the above questions.
3. Show Off Your Personality
Whether it’s a status update or photo, make sure whatever you’re posting is an authentic representation of your personality. Don’t be afraid to make your presence personal. People want to see the real humans behind the company logo, especially when it comes to small, local businesses. Showing off your personality will differentiate you from the competition.
4. Build Relationships With Your Biggest Fans
Who are the people who most often engage with your posts? Who are the people in your local community who have a lot of influence and a wide audience? Try to connect with these individuals via social media and build a relationship with them. They’ll be more likely to promote you on social media, and they may even remember to refer you to their friends.
5. Play Off Emotions
People respond in a stronger manner to advertisements that evoke an emotion. Jeremy Ellens says it best in his article, “Effective Marketing Appeals to Emotions Instead of Reason”:
The best way for your business to stand out is by building emotional connections with your audience. Your business needs to acknowledge that selling a product is no longer enough. Now it’s all about the experience you provide with it. This experience is dependent on your ability to trigger the right emotions, from the right audience, at the right time.
Apply this to your social media presence. What’s going to make people remember you? If you provide them with an emotional experience, you’ll make an indelible impression. For the purposes of your social media content, you want your posts to:
- Make them laugh.
- Amuse or entertain them.
- Captivate them with a story.
- Inspire them.
By following our recommendations in this post, you’ll be able to capture your audience’s attention and attract more prospective customers through social media—without paying a dime to sponsor a post!