How to Leverage Social Media to Grow Your Business
This article is based on my chat with Nicole Shiraz, the Founder of "Boss Ladies." Boss Ladies is a fast-rising, luxury goods leasing services Nicole started on Instagram and grew into a million-dollar company.
As an entrepreneur starting a new business, after jumping through all the hurdles from startup to licensing, production, and then to the packaging stage, I have finally arrived at the dreaded "marketing stage." I am scared out of my mind how to go about it. I want my product (Sunsmile - a high-quality powder detergent) to sell all over the country and become a household staple. However, the fear of failure is giving me chills. From looking for a marketing company to leveraging social media, I am confused at this stage. I don't even know how to describe how I feel. Overwhelmed? Underwhelmed? I have no clue.
All the advice I keep getting, both solicited and unsolicited all think I should leverage social media. I don't have a large following online, but I do follow a few celebrities and influencers and see how they use their platform to promote their business or other businesses they represent. However, I always wonder if those promotions ever lead to sales. As a blogger, I don't kid myself about views and impressions, I am more interested in the conversions, so I know my concerns are valid.
To help me navigate this dilemma with experienced insight, I reached out to Nicole Shiraz, a famous social media influencer from Australia and Founder of Boss Ladies, a high-end, luxury leasing business she started in January of 2019 and had already grown into a million-dollar company. To describe Nicole's business, Boss Ladies is an online store that rents luxury handbags and purses to people who need them. They allow you to lease brand new handbags monthly, weekly or however long you require from high tier designers like Chanel, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, YSL and Dior—making items that were once beyond hip pockets, accessible to clients. Moreover, you can take Instagram pictures, wear it on dates, wear it to parties, use it like you usually would.
Apparently, renting rather than buying has fast become the millennial's best-kept fashion secret, and Nicole Shiraz is leading the charge and taking the 'rent your wardrobe' trend to new heights.
I had read about Nicole in the Daily Mail, and I was struck by how she had smartly identified demand and created a supply. It's the sort of business I wish I had thought about first. I was impressed. Also, I was even more impressed when she answered my messages to her about her business. So, I got expert insights from her on how to leverage social media to grow my own business as she had done.
According to Nicole, in just four months, Boss Ladies' business reached 100,000 followers on Instagram, branched out internationally from Australia to the USA. In 10 months, the company has over 100 influencers and brand ambassadors working for them promoting the brand as they are set to introduce travel luggage and pop up shops.
All this achieved by leveraging social media to build the business in months. I had to get Nicole's secret. She absolutely had to tell me, and here are the Boss Ladies' tips she shared on how to leverage social media to grow my business.
According to Nicole, there are no clear and laid down rules on how to achieve business success with social media. However, there are some strategies you can implement to spread the word about your business, product, and services and achieve tremendous marketing results. Conversions!
These strategies have to be followed quite religiously to ensure that you take advantage of the limitless marketing opportunity that is social media. And not only will this grow your business visibility and sales, but it will increase your customer base.
1. Identify Your Market and Customers
I know. This is like the second sentence your teacher utters on the first day of Business 101 class—the first being his/her name. In fact, if you have already started your business and gotten to this stage without doing this, maybe business is not really for you.
So, just like you identify who your business intends to cater to when starting your business, you also have to do the same and define your market on social media. Your product and services will in almost all cases, appeal to your target demographic, so you have to be sure about who they are. Me, for example, I know that my detergent powder product would appeal mainly to mums, new mums, families and appeal a little less to everyone else because we all do laundry.
Nicole identified her target demographics as young women, fashionistas, social media influencers, fashion bloggers moving with trends and keeping online fashion diary, celebrities and even students who cannot afford to buy such expensive bags and would instead save money by leasing the bags that they want. This information is crucial because it informs your marketing strategy and takes you on your way to snapping up the well of clients always on social media.
2. Develop a Marketing Strategy and Expand Your Reach
At this point, I said, "I thought social media was the strategy"?
So, just like in the real world, you have to develop a marketing strategy, campaign, plan, etc., You also have to do the same on social media. Basically, the marketing strategy needs its own strategy too. So, you have to come up with a reliable and actionable plan, as well as the ways you intend to execute the plans successfully.
Nicole says this strategy includes asking yourself if you would use ads to create more visibility. Influencers? Power users? Brand ambassadors? Tailored content? For her business, she says she is implementing this by having over 100 influencers and brand ambassadors working for them and promoting the brand, with plans ongoing to host dinners and luncheons for their customers and influencers/ambassadors. She is creating an opportunity and platform for influential women to talk about building confidence, how to be a boss etc.
This has definitely been filed away in my "plans I must use" box.
So, basically, you don't have to stop at just posting content and products on your page and hoping for customers to find them. Expand your reach.
It's the power of social media; I had such a strong reach before I was able to start anything.— Kylie Jenner, about how she grew her billion-dollar cosmetic company
Implement both of these tips by finding an influencer, a brand ambassador, or a power user whose audience and followers are the clients you seek. If your product is diapers, of course, you should seek out mommy and baby focused influencers. Again, expand your reach!
Also, target your ads directly to your potential clients by choosing options that point towards your target demographic while setting up your ad.
3. Focus on the Quality of Your Posts and Not Quantity
Do not annoy your followers by bombarding them with so many posts that they lose interest – or worse, unfollow or block you.
Focus on the quality of your posts. At all times, ensure that you are conveying the right message towards the target market. Quality posts are posts that create value. Are your posts educational? Inspirational? Commercial? Define the value you are creating with your posts so you can push them towards your target, gain more engagements and conversions.
4. Follow and Engage High-Profile Accounts
Most Instagram influencers admit that one of the steps they took towards becoming influencers was by following high-profile accounts and sometimes forming friendships, and some of these friendships gave them their first shot at visibility.
As a business, you should follow other high profile accounts with audiences you would like to target. Comment, like, and share posts that interest you, and you could develop a symbiotic relationship that would gain you more visibility. I also like that there are social media algorithms that would make your ads visible to a broader range of people interested in your offering if you are active and engage other users.
5. Don't Stop Networking
According to Nicole, when she launched her business, it was purely through Instagram, and she reached out to other prominent influencers, to collaborate with Boss Ladies, sending them courtesy bags and hosting an influencer hangout dinner to promote the business.
I plan to use this idea very much by sending out packs of my product to influencers for use and marketing reviews. This is bound to give more exposure to the product. It would be best if you tried it too.
6. Make Buying Easy and Deliver the Best Value
Ensure an easy and straightforward buying medium. If you are targeting clients through ads, the "call to action" button should take them straight to the product buy page or direct messaging and not to some other page that would confuse the potential buyer.
Ensure that your site (if that is where you are directing customers) is responsive and fast. The purchase process should be simple and not complicated at all. The easier it is, the easier you are likely to make sales.
Also, more importantly, the most important way to leverage social media to grow your business is by delivering great products. If it's a service or product, the value and quality should be top-notch so you can have satisfied customers. Satisfied customers are recurrent customers. They also send referrals your way, which leads to more sales for you.
Growing a business is not a walk in the park, and neither is leveraging social media to grow your business. Social media is not exactly an easy way out; it is a big pool of untapped clients waiting for you to target. Although you have to work hard at it and be dedicated before you start seeing results, it must feel good when that happens.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2019 Loretta Osakwe Awosika