We also get a lot of questions from people wanting to get into the events industry and a lot of it has to do with social media. Clearly we're no experts, but this blog isn't our first rodeo so I believe we've got some stuff to share. So if you're trying to build a small business and need a little encouragement, maybe this will help.
1) Use What Works for You: Whether it’s Facebook or Twitter or even the dreaded Google Plus (that no one seems to understand), pick what social media channel you’re comfortable with and have a good track record at using. For example, I have a Twitter account. It’s small. I don’t update very often. I’ve realized that I a) am too wordy and need the space on Facebook to expel way more than 140 characters and b) I love the visual aspect of Instagram. Twitter just doesn’t do it for me so I concentrate my efforts on the others.
2) Stay Consistent- After you pick your social media channels, keep up with them. Random posts that are few and far between give you a flighty impression. It makes you look unorganized. Make a goal of posting every few days (at least) to keep yourself in front of the public eye. And don’t make announcements if you’ve had a break in posting. Just dive right back in.
3) Keep Up Appearances – No one is saying you have to pay big money for professional branding right off the bat. But c’mon, it’s 2014, everyone is online and if you have an amateur image, you’re not going to attract the clientele that you want…the ones that respect your business and will pay what you’re worth. Keep things clean and professional of course, but put some creativity into it. Have your logos & headers show what you do. Use bright, well-lit photos. The goal is to not have it look like you did your branding work yourself. No Curlz font, for the love….
4) Works Well With Others – Find your people. Whether it’s by joining forums of other pros in your field or commenting on blogs/FB pages/Instagram accounts of those in your general field. Form relationships. By liking posts on Facebook and giving genuine comments on Instagram and the like, you’ll become more than a face in the crowd to that business. Find people in your area. Collaborate on projects with them. Swap talents. If you've got a genuine talent to offer, people will recognize it and want to team up with you.
5) Respect Other People’s Places - Forming relationships is key to any business. You get support, a source of advice, cheerleaders and a lot of times, friends out of it. But in order to grow those relationships with (basically) strangers, you need to respect them and their time. Don’t use their space, whether it’s their blog or Facebook page comment section to try to sell yourself. And do not under any circumstance just comments on things to get people to visit your space. Be genuine, not spammy.
6) This Isn’t the Schoolyard – Don’t get hurt and stomp off if you don’t get immediate responses from fellow pros in your industry, no matter how big they are. If they’re anything like you, they’re trying to build a business. Everyone is busy. You have to put the time in to building that relationship and if the person on the other end has similar goals, then a relationship might begin to bloom. But remember that not everyone has the same goals as you and you might not ever have a personal relationship with them. Move on.
7) Ask and Ye Shall Receive – If there’s anything I’ve learned over the past four years of being a small business owner, it’s that you have to put your fears aside. Fears of rejection, fears of embarrassment, of not being good enough or big enough or whatever enough, put them aside and ask for what you want. Want clients? Ask people if you can work for them. Obviously the terms will have to be agreed upon but you can’t wait for customers to come to you, especially in a service-oriented business. Need a question answered but too afraid to look stupid? Swallow that pride and ask anyway. Usually (and I stress usually!) people like helping others out when they have a wealth of knowledge on a subject. People like feeling like experts. Use social media to reach these people, just don’t harass them.
8) Be Your Own Person. Everyone Else is Already Taken – When I started this business, I was a bit afraid that my (to put it delicately) sarcastic and aggressive personality would be a turn-off. I’m not a touchy-feely wedding planner. I’m not going to praise the heavens and spout off on the wonder and awe of love. I am going to spout off on being organized, efficient, creative and fun. I’m going to split a bottle of champagne with you during our meetings and laugh too loud. I’m going to be me. And you need to be you. People are a dime a dozen and you need to stand out and have a personality and let it shine through your business. Customers want to know that they’re working with a real person and not a faceless voice from a call center. Of course, there’s such a thing as over-sharing, as well all know, so be careful to find a good balance.
9) Imitate Your Inspirations – You follow the leaders in your industry right? Of course, you do. Well do what they do. For example, there are several great workshops & retreats in the wedding planning business. I follow them all on Instagram and get twinges of jealousy every time I see everyone flying to Florida or LA or the Bahamas for an amazing event. Obviously event planners put on ridiculously good events. But at this point in my career, I am not in a place to make these investments. And man, they sure are investments. Cash money. Lots of it. So instead of wallowing in my self-pity, I soak in as much as I can from the attendees. I follow their steps when they get home. I see what changes they make and see if I should be making those changes too. I model myself after successful business owners and in my experience, it’s been one of the best things I can do.
10) Forget Your Competition…Mostly – This probably goes against everything every business owner is ever taught but I don’t focus on my competition. I used to follow people who I thought might sorta kinda be my competitors on Instagram or Facebook and see cool things they’re doing and I would feel a little dig. Like why didn’t I think of that? Or how did they get that opportunity? It might sound like a good kick in the butt to go make my own opportunities but honestly, it usually ended up just making me feel bad. So I stopped looking. Sure, in my industry, it’s helpful to know who’s out there and what they’re doing, especially in your local area. But I don’t want to know too much. There are enough brides for everybody. And my own feeling of self-worth is important to me.