When it comes to social media for small businesses, the amount of information about how to promote your business correctly can be overwhelming. It's clear that social media can help propel sales, but the underlying question is often, "How?"
We caught up with Malka Fasten, founder of girl's accessories company Halo Luxe, to ask about how she navigated the social world on Instagram and what she recommends for other fledgling businesses just getting their feet wet.
First things first: Get active
"When I started Halo Luxe, I was not that active on social media," says Fasten. "But when I began posting images of our products to Instagram, Halo Luxe's sales started to pick up. In terms of accounts wholesale, buyers were finding us through our Instagram. This past year, I started focusing on Instagram, because I saw results using it as a platform — I could reach people I could never reach otherwise."
The lesson here is to just start posting to a social platform that you've seen activity on, as that's likely where your audience is. Once you can see what's working and what isn't, start planning an organized approach, detailed below.
Come up with a budget
For a lot of new business owners tackling social media, the question is often, "Where do you start?" Fasten's advice: Start with an advertising budget for each season. As a small business owner, you can't possibly do everything perfectly, so why not outsource things like professional photography and product images to a professional?
"We pay for a photographer to do product images for the website," says Fasten. "Then, we start conversations with photographer's whose work we love about potentially doing our campaign photos for each season. These campaign photos — the photos of the young models wearing the product themselves — are our most important photos. That's what helps sell our product."
Find a photographer
So, how do you find a good photographer who's right for your business? Fasten says she started by looking up photographers on Instagram, and sending emails out to the ones she resonated with to see if they were in her budget and if she could work with them.
"I like to work with someone who is pleasant and makes things work with you," says Fasten. "If you can't afford a photographer, you can still take beautiful images via a smartphone, you just need to stage it correctly. But, I'd still say hire a photographer if you can because they can save you a lot of time and headache."
Okay, so you've found a photographer: Come up with a big-picture campaign idea and possible ways your campaign can be shot. Go through your ideas together and make sure you're on the same page. Lots of communication with your photographer is key to getting the photos you want for a campaign.
Figure out a PR strategy
"Once you have those great photos, then you can send your product to bloggers," says Fasten. This is a similar process to finding a photographer: Look up bloggers or influencers on the platform you're using and ask if you can send them product. If they like your product, bloggers will style it for their needs and take their own photos of it. Then they'll promote your product on their social channels, Fasten notes, which is amazing publicity.
"We look for bloggers who have a large follower number, usually on social media, who get lots of engagement on their photos," says Fasten. "We look for bloggers who share our voice and would appreciate our style. We also look for bloggers who live in different areas of the world. The more diverse the better, because you never know who might see your product."
Reward your fans, too
Even though big bloggers and influencers can drive numbers, don't forget about the people who buy your product and produce their own content around your product. "We also post photos from our followers," says Fasten. "This opens us up to exposure that we wouldn't have otherwise, because we post photos of different kinds of people from all different areas."
Variety is also important, Fasten notes, because of how many different ways your product can be styled. "Different people use my accessories differently — I'm always surprised by how my products are used," says Fasten. "But it really opens our business up to new people, and I start to see more Instagrammers to whom I can send products."
With social media, you actually need to be social. "Your followers really appreciate the comments on their posts," says Fasten. "We've become friends with so many people who give us ideas and look out for us. If you take the time to reply, or hire someone to take the time to reply, it can really open doors for your business."