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Small business owners know the only constant in life is change. Technology has evolved with the times, altering business practices and even what it means to be an entrepreneur. When it comes to selling products or services, it’s hard to turn a blind eye to the benefits of online platforms like social media. While beginners might be intimidated by the algorithms and formulas of Instagram, TikTok, or Facebook at first, learning to harness the power of your digital presence can lead to long-term success.
Crystal Vilkaitis, owner of social media strategy company Crystal Media, knows how daunting it can be to create unique and personal content for social media, which is why she always reassures clients with a simple tenet—be yourself.
“We love relatable content. That’s what gets us to watch people, gets us to stop the scroll, is when it’s somebody like us or somebody that we aspire to be,” Crystal said—adding that business owners just starting out on social media don’t need to worry about filters, scripts, or content that is expertly edited and produced.
“We don’t want perfect. Perfect isn’t relatable. So when you are sharing your stories and behind the scenes and what goes into running the store and just getting to know the store owner, you’re starting to feel like, this is my friend. I wanna support them. And when you are being your authentic self, the right people are gonna connect with you.”
Selling products through social media outlets is a growing priority for business and marketers, and small business owners can take advantage of that trend no matter the size of their business or products offered.
“I really recommend retailers to sell through social media. It’s one of the best ways,” Crystal said, emphasizing that you want your business to show up where your target demographic spends most of their time and to offer a shopping experience they enjoy.
While social media ad campaigns are effective, they can be costly. Therefore, one of Crystal’s top recommendations is live selling (live streaming the products you have for sale) because it’s easy on the business owner and on the consumer. She also recognizes, however, that some business owners may be reluctant to try out new and unfamiliar strategies.
“There’s a lot of resistance when it comes to social media and putting ourselves out there. But if we can push through that, get comfortable with the uncomfortable, show up anyway, and be consistent, you start becoming that local celebrity. The people at the bank recognize you, and you find those primary customer groups that just love you and will become lifelong customers—that will also share your content, talk about you to their friends, and really connect again in that meaningful way.”
Oftentimes, running a social media campaign takes up more time than a business owner has, which becomes the perfect opportunity to delegate, whether to a professional like Crystal, a business partner, or an employee. No matter who runs the accounts, business owners should always be aware of how it works, what makes a campaign successful, and if the campaigns are meeting goals and driving revenue.
“Education is really important for retailers and small businesses, especially when it comes to marketing and social media. Retailers say, ‘Please do my social media. I don’t wanna do it. I’m so busy.’ But when we don’t know what we don’t know, it’s really hard to manage that company or manage that person that’s gonna be helping you with your social media.
“I really want retailers to be empowered to know enough. For some, they love it. They love marketing, so they wanna know it all. But most of them are busy business owners, so they need to know enough to make sure they’re doing the right thing and that it is actually supporting their business goals.”
More strategic tips from Crystal Vilkaitis in this week’s Behind the Review include:
- Use SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timed) goals in your social media planning as well as overall business planning.
- Do research when hiring a social media strategy company. Ask for references and examples of their work. Crystal had a client whose previous social media manager posted items online that were not in her inventory, creating confusion.
- AI and ChatGPT can help you respond to comments. Take advantage of AI technology to help you draft potential responses to comments, then customize them and add your personality. This can help you stay focused and efficient, while still being “you” in your replies.
Listen to the episode below to hear directly from Crystal and Emily, and subscribe to Behind the Review for more from new business owners and reviewers every Thursday.