Part of the America’s Entrepreneurs Special Report
If you’re running your own business or thinking about becoming an entrepreneur, social media can provide a huge boost. It gives you a chance to further the reach of your brand and expand your marketing efforts, connecting with audiences on a deeper and more personal level. Andrew Medal, founder of Agent Beta, says social media is your opportunity to add value to your audience’s lives.
But to create this deep connection, you can’t just post on your Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn pages and then walk away for the day or week — what marketers refer to as, “set it and forget it.” Instead, you need to be active, focusing on the 3 E’s of social media: Educate, Entertain and Engage.
If you post regularly on social media using these three categories as your guide, you’ll build brand equity and authority in your space. Over time, you’ll gain more followers, get more clicks to your website and possibly bring in additional revenue.
Here’s what you need to know about each “E” and how to use it to your advantage:
Educate: Provide Value to Your Followers
As an entrepreneur, by educating your clients via social media, you can provide real value to them.
Start by making a list of questions people might have about your industry, product or service, along with social post ideas that could address those questions.
For example, if you had a line of all-natural cleaning products, potential educational ideas might be:
- The most common toxins in regular cleaning products
- Natural ingredients that are found in your products
- The dirtiest areas of the house that people forget to clean
- Differences between your cleaner and a popular brand
For all of these, you could create social images that display the information in a graphic or create a blog post and then link to the post on your social accounts.
For inspiration, look at how these five big brands (Whole Foods, Mint.com, GE, Cabot Cheese and Stanford University) have used this technique.
Entertain: Make Your Followers Laugh
This is your chance to put customers in a good mood, rather than selling yourself or your business.
“When consumers show up on social media, they want to be entertained — not sold to. When a brand forgets this, they lose the attention of their audience. Engagement plummets, and people ignore their posts,” wrote Jordan Kasteler, SEO director of Hennessey Consulting, on Marketing Land.
MOZ, a noted SEO consulting company, reported on the 2013 study published in the Journal of Interactive Advertising, “From subservient chickens to brawny men,” which found that, although 62 percent of ads were aired by Fortune 500 companies, 60 percent of viral ads were generated by smaller businesses.” The one thing those viral ads had in common? Humor.
If you’re not especially funny, don’t worry. The goal is to show that you don’t take yourself, your business or your industry too seriously. Instead of coming up with funny posts and jokes, entertain your audience without creating the assets yourself.
For example, create a list of ecards, GIFs and memes that are funny and in line with your brand. You can find these at:
If this still feels too challenging, simply focus on having a little fun when conversing with followers, as Wendy’s and Denny’s often do on Twitter.
Engage: Provide a Platform Where Your Followers Can Speak
Some of your followers will want to share their opinions and engage in conversation while gaining something for themselves —whether that’s an interesting piece of information, a prize or something else.
Holly Rollins, president of the 10x digital marketing agency, says most people typically engage with a company through social media if they perceive a personal, business or financial gain from the action, such as posting a review or participating in a contest.
Focus on how you can best encourage engagement with your audience. For example, if you’re a computer company, your followers are likely technology fans. So they may be interested in an unboxing of a new Apple model or a free tablet. You might also give away a free iPad, along with sharing the unboxing video.
Test out your high-engagement post ideas by noting your Top 10 each month. Look at the whole picture, including comments, likes, shares and clicks. Then, repeat this exercise with new content next month. Over time, you’ll dial in what engages your audience most and you’ll learn what works for them and for your business.
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