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Behind Review host and Yelp small business expert Emily Washcovick shares a sneak peek from this week’s podcast episode.
There’s no doubt that running a full business and calendar on social media is difficult, especially since the rules of engagement on social media are constantly changing. Even with the best intentions and plans in mind, posting and following on social media sometimes gets dropped.
Lara Betthauser, social media manager for Yelp social media and Yelp for Business, knows how to start a campaign. But more importantly, she knows how to make it last, recently launching the Yelp’s Instagram Page for Businessgiving Yelp an online voice for businesses in particular.
It’s what your social media is, essentially – your voice, your brand, your company’s personality – in a digital medium. You can’t be face to face with every customer, every day, but your online presence can.
Lara’s previous experience with a brewers association – a conglomeration of small brewers – gave her insight into how small businesses can develop and maintain social media strategies, and she brought that expertise to Yelp and its customers.
“With some of my experience working for the brewers association, it was a similar concept [to Yelp for Business] with brewers and brewery owners. They do everything. Not only are they the beer maker, they are the beer tenderer, they are also the janitor. So I tried to bring that experience into the role of Yelp for Business,” she said. “We’re really trying to reach out to those business owners and see how we can break through the crowd and make an impact. One of the really important things we thought about was that [business owners] don’t have time. So how can we give them advice, tips and inspiration very quickly and from the start?
When a small business is getting started, social media posting is usually the responsibility of the owner. It can be fun at first, and you might have professional photos of your products or services to upload. However, as the business takes off, it can become a chore or just fall into the ever-growing list of priorities. Lara suggests a solid game plan to help alleviate social media stress.
“Like everything else, planning is the roadmap for the future. If you don’t have the planning, it can make it a really daunting task,” she shared. “At Yelp for Business, when we were planning our content calendar, it was a month in advance. I understand that not all business owners have time to sit down for a few hours and jot down But even if it’s a week or two at a time, I really suggest companies sit down, see what content they can put out so they can focus on other things during the week. Obviously, social media is important, but if you don’t think about it, it’s one of those things that’s going to be easily crossed off the list.”
It is equally important to understand that plans change, things happen, and events arise that could interrupt your previously planned programming. It’s okay, according to Lara.
“Even if you plan content, say two weeks, a month in advance, things are still going to happen. If you have a live event, if you have a special, things can still be moved. But at least you having content that you push back to next month, always having backup content,” she said.
She also recommends always experimenting: “Don’t be afraid to try different things, and at the end of the month or after the two weeks you’ve scheduled content, go back and make sure you’re watching that performance. Not only how many likes did it get, but did anyone comment. Did anyone share it with anyone? Did anyone save it to her profile? Especially on Instagram. You want to see what works well and try to put themes together to see how you can incorporate that in the future.”
That sounds all well and good, but how can companies offer enough content and a wide enough variety to fill an entire plan? According to Lara, it helps to just look at your own calendar.
“What holidays are coming up or what special is your company celebrating? It might not make sense for you to talk about National Wine Day, but maybe the Solstice of June 21st is the longest day of the year. Maybe your business is going to be open a little longer, or maybe you have a special. It’s an easy way to tie those certain days to help your content calendar, but it can definitely relieve the pressure of being able to plan things further in advance.”
She also recommends checking out what other like-minded brands are doing. “Creating different content ideas can take a lot of thought. It’s great to find other people, maybe not competitors, but other people in your market that you could check out to see what they share. There are some great channels out there, especially on Instagram that you can start following to get different ideas.”
You should also schedule evergreen content here and there (content that is not tied to a specific date or time of year) to fill in the gaps. This type of content is also extremely valuable because you can replay it multiple times with different angles and messages, and because it’s not tied to a specific time frame, it stays relevant.
When it comes to being the face of social media content, if you’re comfortable in front of the camera, go for it. “It’s different in every business situation, but maybe you’re the best person for the job, you’re the best person to talk about the brand. You’re the most authentic person, and that’s something you enjoy,” Lara said.
If you prefer to stay behind the scenes, reach out to your employees and see if they would lend their talent and expertise to help you build your social media presence. Most employees probably have their phones fairly close to them, so ask them if they would be willing to take photos and videos in their spare time at work or when there aren’t many customers around. “Every 3, 4, 5 second clip where you make a cup of coffee, open your business in the morning, close your business in the evening, etc. is something your employees can help you do.”
If you’re a sole proprietor and all social media posts fall to you, it can be daunting to think about creating videos or content about yourself. But the key to overcoming that, Lara said, is to start and keep doing it.
“You just have to start doing it. Every day, try to take a few 15-second videos of something happening. It doesn’t even have to be about your business. Maybe it’s your dog, or you make food, or you take a walk, but it’s really important to feel comfortable with the video,” she explained.
Lara also says to give yourself some grace and to remember that you are not alone. Everyone collectively learns how to create the best content. One idea Lara suggests is to create simple behind-the-scenes content.
“It doesn’t have to be really behind the scenes, something that happens physically behind a kitchen door. But since you’re talking to people online, some of your followers may unfortunately never visit your business. They might hang out online, but they don’t know what the inside of your business looks like. They don’t know what your storefront looks like. They don’t know all the fun things you do, the artwork you have on the wall , etc. Just [filming] easy, quick, things like that.”
Once the content is released, be sure to stay engaged and in touch with your audience. Take 5-10 minutes a day to see what you’re tagged on Instagram. Engage. Reshare. Comment,” Lara said.
You can also use your Yelp reviews to increase brand awareness on social media while rewarding your employees.
“Some of these may be reviews people left for you, talking about the quality of their experience with your business. It’s always free to ask if you can share their feedback on your Instagram page or even put it in a If the review is about someone in particular, do a “Read Yelp Reviews” and then pan to the employee the review is about and ask how they feel. Or just put a spotlight on it and spin stars so you can shout out to your employees and also show your potential customers what experience they could gain.”
With a few tips and tricks from Yelp pros like Lara, you can grow your social media presence, as well as your revenue.
- It is practice makes perfect. If you don’t know how to create content, take the plunge and start creating. It will come more naturally over time.
- Look around for talent in your own business. If you need help, reach out to your employees for additional social media content and ask them what they think would be interesting for your customer base.
- Plan ahead as much as possible. Schedule content for holidays or sales and keep permanent content on hand for those times in between.
- Use your Yelp reviews for content. Highlight your good reviews in your social media feeds, through videos or posts, and praise employees when they do a great job.
Listen to the episode below to hear Lara and Emily live, and to subscribe to Behind the review to hear about new business owners and reviews every Thursday.