Do you know where your next customer is coming from? 73% of small business owners report using social media to attract more customers and revenue. Are you one of them? If so, you probably know that your Instagram, LinkedIn, and Yelp profiles can help you:

  • Create visibility for the great work that you’re doing.
  • Attract prospective customers.
  • Generate consistent referrals.
  • Increase your revenue.

However, many small business owners find it challenging to get the results they want from these popular platforms. That’s why we invited our friends, Nichole McNiel, Product Researcher at Instagram, Julia Cabral, Senior Product Marketing Manager at LinkedIn, and Matt Donzella, Business Manager at Yelp, to join us at the Google Community Space in San Francisco for a hands-on workshop during San Francisco Small Business Week.

Nichole, Julia, and Matt shared their insider secrets on how to use your Instagram, LinkedIn, and Yelp profiles to grow your business and meet your goals for 2019.

Missed the event? Don’t worry. You can watch the full recording of the live stream here. Also, read on for all of the highlights, directly from the experts!

First of All, Watch Out for These Social Media Myths

I invited our panelists to participate in this event because we want small business owners to know that behind the scenes at these platforms, there are real people who care about you and work very hard to help you be successful in your business. I realize that as a user, it doesn’t always seem that way. Sometimes, figuring out how to use these platforms can be challenging.

Thus, we started the session by asking our experts about some of the biggest myths that hold small business owners back from using their platforms successfully. Here are the rumors Nichole, Julia, and Matt want to dispel:

“My business is not very visual, so we can’t use Instagram.” 

You don’t have to be an artist, photographer, or a visual-first brand to use Instagram to build your business. There are many ways to craft your business narrative, even if you’re a service-based business or don’t sell physical products, with authentic visuals that help tell your story, grow your community, and reach the audience you want to affect.

“I’m not looking for a new full-time job, so why should I be on LinkedIn?”

LinkedIn profiles rank highly in Google search. As such, both your personal profile as a business owner and the LinkedIn page for your company are great ways to increase visibility and establish credibility with your current and potential customers. An outdated profile—or worse, a missing profile—represents a significant missed opportunity to be found online.

“Yelp is mainly for restaurants and shopping; my business doesn’t belong there.”

Yelp encompasses an enormous range of businesses, from dentists to life coaches to any business that wants to be recognized. Since Yelp is such a heavily trafficked website, Yelp pages often pop up organically in the top three search results. Whatever your business is, having an optimized profile on Yelp helps you cast a wide net and get out in front of as many people as possible.

“My business is already on one or two platforms; we don’t need to be on all of them.”

There’s a misconception that certain platforms are only for certain types of businesses. But the truth is, you and your business should have a presence in all the places where your audience might look for you. None of these platforms are specific to any one type of business.

Where you show up online has nothing to do with your personal preferences, and everything to do with being highly visible when your next customer goes online searching for the solution you sell.

Be Sure Not to Miss These Features

Along with common myths about popular social media platforms, many small businesses are missing out on features that could be keys to their success. Here’s what our experts had to say about powerful features that are often overlooked.

Use Instagram as your digital storefront.

Businesses don’t always think of Instagram as their online storefront, but it’s one of the most effective ways to show people what you have to offer (regardless of what type of business you run). Think of your audience as window shoppers cruising down the street; your images and stories are what draws them in to “shop.”

Take full advantage of your LinkedIn summary.

Right under your photo on your personal LinkedIn profile is the summary section, which is your profile’s prime real estate, the opportunity to tell your story. Think of your summary as a letter to your ideal client. Be intentional with keywords when you’re writing it because they will make it easy for prospects to find you. Feel free to check my LinkedIn summary as an example.

Add photos and keywords to your Yelp page.

Many business owners don’t realize they can, and should, add photos to their Yelp page. Having 10 or more photos will drive more leads to your page, so don’t hold back! When you’re adding these photos, be sure to provide captions and tags for each one, with keywords that are relevant to your business. Those keywords will help your images, and page, come up higher in the Yelp search directory.

Avoid These Common Social Media Mistakes

Many small businesses fall into these pitfalls as they get started on social media. Take it from the experts and avoid these common mistakes:

Only publishing perfectly polished images on Instagram.

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that your Instagram feed needs to look like a professional magazine photo shoot. Instagram audiences love authenticity! Use Instagram to show the personality behind your brand, without focusing solely on selling your products. Instagram stories and highlights give your audience a “behind the scenes” look at your business.

Creating brand new content for every post on LinkedIn.

You don’t have to create brand new content for every LinkedIn post. Try sharing a piece of news or an article that someone else has written, which is related to your industry. Add your point of view and talk about how it relates to your company.

Ignoring reviews on Yelp.

No one wants to get a negative review, but if it happens, don’t bury your head in the sand. We all make mistakes; if you try to make it right, there’s a 33% chance the negative review will be taken down or upgraded by the user.

Replying within 24 to 48 hours is critical, and remember to showcase your customer service and compassion in your reply. Don’t ignore the positive reviews either! Be sure to thank them and let them know you can’t wait to see them again.

Waiting to post until you have the perfect strategy in place.

With all the social media platforms where a business needs to be today, it’s no wonder you want a plan. However, don’t let that lingering, unfinished plan paralyze you against taking action. You can improve your strategy as you go. Try publishing different types of posts, and keep track of what works and what doesn’t. Start small; start somewhere, but most of all, get started!

Follow These Best Practices

Now that you know what not to do, here’s what you should do. These are the best practices for using Instagram, LinkedIn, and Yelp, straight from the experts:

Encourage user-generated content.

Multiply your content by getting your customers involved. Make sure they know your Instagram handle or hashtag and encourage Yelp reviews and check-ins to your business. Put your LinkedIn, Yelp, or Instagram info in your email signature, signage in a physical store, and on your website, so that people can find it easily. You can run contests or offer giveaways to encourage social sharing and build your online community.

Connect with other businesses.

Everyone loves to have their content noticed. Repost great images on Instagram, tag people on LinkedIn, and comment on Yelp reviews. When you tag others, chances are higher that they will share your posts. You can also reach out to influencers and offer freebies in exchange for a plug for your business or product.

Take advantage of all the features of each platform.

Don’t miss out on the many features that will help you attract more views. When setting up your profile or page, be sure to fill in all the sections. Here are a few visibility opportunities to keep in mind:

  • Remember to use relevant keywords in your photos on Yelp
  • Create Instagram stories and highlights
  • Write a compelling LinkedIn summary, focusing on the needs of your target clients
  • Encourage Yelp check-ins if your business has a physical location
  • Choose hashtags on Instagram and LinkedIn that are popular with your users

Use keywords.

Keywords are crucial to your success with social media. When filling out the information about your specialties on Yelp, or your profile information on Instagram and LinkedIn, use keywords that will help customers find you. With every post, photo caption, hashtag, and blog title, keep your keywords in mind. Google will index every word, so choosing keywords wisely will help your business rise to the top of organic searches.

Post and update regularly.

While there’s no exact formula for posting frequency, regularity is the name of the game. For LinkedIn, at least twice a week is best practice. You’ll want to post more often on Instagram; three to five times a week is a good starting point. On Yelp, regularly update your photos and comment on reviews; continue to be present and interact with your customers there to make the most of the platform.

Share across platforms.

One of the great things about social media platforms is that they can amplify each other. Share your positive Yelp reviews on Twitter and Facebook, cross-post video content from Instagram on LinkedIn, and look at what your customers are talking about on Facebook to help inform your strategy for Instagram.

Look at Companies that are Getting it Right

It’s always helpful to learn by example. I asked each of our experts to provide a small business success story. What ideas can you apply to your business?

Big Fish Presentations on LinkedIn

Kenny Nguyen is on a mission to rid the world of boring presentations. His company, Big Fish Presentations, helps people turn presentations into experiences, and many of his clients connect with him through LinkedIn. Instead of thinking of LinkedIn as a place to make sales, Kenny uses the platform to nurture his connections.

Here’s a great example: When Kenny received a notification from LinkedIn recently about a client’s birthday, he visited her profile to give her his best wishes. He happened to see that she had a big speaking gig coming up, so he sent her a message offering to help with her presentation as a birthday gift. This gesture reconnected Kenny with his client, which will likely lead to more work for his company in the future.

One Man and One Big Truck on Yelp

If you’re looking for a mover in the San Francisco Bay Area on Yelp, One Man and One Big Truck will likely stand out. While most companies would be happy to have 100 or so reviews, this small business has nearly 700, and a five-star rating.

Their profile is complete with over 30 captioned photos, and the keywords in their “services offered” section help potential customers find them easily. They offer the ability to request a quote directly from their Yelp page, with an average response time of 40 minutes. Using Yelp’s free features available to small businesses, along with some advertising, One Man and One Big Truck is making one big difference in their business.

Boba Guys on Instagram

Boba Guys are taking boba and tea to the next level, and they wanted to do the same with their social media presence. When Facebook wasn’t giving them the reach they wanted, they turned their attention to Instagram.

Go for It!

Too often, I see small business owners holding themselves back because they’re waiting until their social media profiles are “perfect.” I echo the advice from our panel of experts: don’t wait! The best way to learn is by doing. As you go along, you’ll learn what works and what doesn’t, make tweaks, and progress quickly.

As you’re posting on social media, instead of thinking about the best marketing message you can craft or how to put your products in front of potential customers, always ask yourself, “How can I help my customers today?” What do my customers need? What are they looking for, and what do they find interesting? Find those answers, and share them, in a variety of ways, across all these channels.

One last thing to keep in mind is that your presence on these platforms is not about your personal preference. If you don’t particularly like one of these platforms, that doesn’t mean that your business shouldn’t be active there.

Remember, you want to control the narrative about your business. You want to participate in the online conversations about the types of products and services you sell, and you want to keep track of trends that are happening in your space.

Big thanks to Nichole, Julia, and Matt for sharing their expertise with us! The full recording of the panel’s live stream is available here.

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