By Guest Blogger, Helen Snell
Business is transitioning into a virtual world, where first impressions are made by an Instagram post or a website instead of a smile and handshake. Many virtual platforms that began as social have migrated to business so the way content is shared also has to transition to this more professional approach. Cat videos and sharing vacation photos with family and friends have been replaced with engaging posts to attract clients. The engagement comes from the combination of the visual impact and the quality written professional content. The same holds true for websites, and as we move into podcasts, vlogs, and live videos on our websites and social channels the foundation of business growth through professional content remains.
Maybe those words – professional content – are the very thing that incites fear and turns you back to cat videos, or deters you from building a website. Let’s talk first about the various approaches to sharing content. Adding value is the key, whether through humour, education, or inspiration, but different audiences use different platforms. Find the approach that works best for your personality and your business. Here is a quick breakdown of how various platforms present:
- Website – menu of activities
- Facebook – comment or opinion on activity
- Instagram – start a conversation/share about activity
- Pinterest – watch me doing activity
- Twitter – play by play of the activity
- LinkedIn – my experience with activity
- YouTube – I’ll show you how to do the activity
On any one of these platforms everything you write is sales copy. Don’t let that alarm you. You don’t want to “sell” all the time. But every word you share is managing a level of the sales process. A newsletter handles customer service, a social media post builds relationships, a blog adds value to your service, and your website is one large sales letter. The combination of two or more of these working together dramatically improves revenue. Businesses report 50% more revenue from being on social media than from a website alone.
How can you use these platforms to present messaging in a way that is as engaging as a smile and a conversation? Through stories. Your approach to teach or inspire is important to create relationships with your potential clients. It takes 20% more contact points now to convert a sale rather than it used to take just 5 years ago. And guess what turns clients away? Constant selling. Too many flowery words. Complicated language. And spelling and grammar mistakes. Almost 50% of consumers will reject a business if they see a spelling or grammatical error.
So, now we’re back to knees shaking over creating that quality content. Take a breath and let’s start slow. The idea of storytelling changes the narrative from needing slick marketing campaigns to conversation and attraction marketing. Spend some time to understand your own story and main messaging. Focus on the people you want to surround yourself with and the journey you want to take them on.
Then follow these guidelines to help ease you into developing content:
- Share your own story regularly
- Start writing blogs even if you don’t post them
- Blogs help define your message
- Blogs deliver content for social media posts
- Blogs answer commonly asked questions
- Tell stories of success, lessons learned, humour
- Show your personality
- Write as though you’re speaking to a friend
- Write at a Grade 3 level
- Keep your message simple
- Show emotion
- Solve problems
- Focus on one or two social sites
The writing process may come easier for some than others. And as small business owners budget is always a consideration. Hiring an accountant saves countless hours of trying to understand taxes and bookkeeping. Writing is another area of business where you may not be skilled. If you are investing the time and money to set up a website, or post daily on various social sites, the extra investment for professional content is worthwhile to create the engagement that results in sales. Consider working with a content creator or social media manager to convert your words into sales.