The Lab

Spread Your Wings

Becoming a social butterfly – A strategic guide to building a social media presence

There are millions of social media accounts. You can basically find anything you want to see from dogs on paddle boats to people swimming in a cold brew coffee pool. That being said, how do you become a standout account that gains long term followers!? Do you post every hour on the hour? Do you follow and unfollow Justin Bieber a few times to gain some traction (yes, people actually do this?!?) Or do you Google search ‘coffee’ and post every image you find?Well… while at least one of those options will work, there are much easier strategies to follow and we’ll help you get started.

Starting Out:

Let us just make a blanket statement about this before moving forward. Everyone has their method that works for them and may not work universally. There are some strategies that work easier than others, but ultimately whatever works for best for your company, is what works. Find your path (brand image/ method etc.) and stay the course. That is what’s going to help you grow your online  presence.

Okay, blanket statement out of the way. Now it’s time to start breaking this down into a step by step format to greatness (or at least goodness)! Here’s the order that we would recommend developing your strategy in. I’ll explain why each step in important in just a little bit.

1. Decide who you are and what you want to accomplish

2. Create a content plan

3. Create inviting content

4. Grow your following

5. Retain that following

So all of this sounds relatively easy for anyone with a social media account to accomplish, right? Well… that’s because it really is that simple as long as you plan some things out. Without an effective strategy, you’ll just be treading social media water and your brand will be buried under whatever Drake has going on in his stories or what dish Bon Appetit just posted about. To start getting your plan together, have a clear idea of what your brand is all about and what you want to accomplish.

Deciding Who You Are & What You Want To Accomplish:

Everyone has their own reasoning for using social media. Take a moment to look at the core values of your company and pinpoint the main features that differentiate you from everyone else.

e.g. You’re an organic roaster that only makes mochas, to support small coffee and cocoa farmers.

Your values would then be sustainability, quality, environmental/ social awareness. Your photos should all link back to these values in one shape or another. Now that you’ve established your message, the goal is to spread that word to your community/ potential customer base and get them on board with your mission. Once they can identify themselves within your brand, they will loyally follow you as long as you continue to meet those expectations. If at any point your photos stray away from your values, you can expect to lose some of these loyal followers.

Brand dilution is one of the quickest and easiest ways to break your credibility with your customers. As soon as they get the slightest notion that your company isn’t being true to the values that it is advertising, they will drop the company and your social pages as quickly as possible. If there’s anything that we can say to convince you to stay true to your values, it’s this. If you can capture 100% of 10 people’s hearts on your page, you’ve succeeded. Now it’s time to find those 10 people!

Choose Your Target Audience:

We know… huh? Let’s elaborate a bit. An audience is a group of people or demographic that you’re hoping to advertise to. When you post on your business’s social media, you’re advertising in one way or another. Choosing who you want to advertise to will help you down the road to create an effective content plan.

So, you’re thinking that you want to just target everyone right? While that may work to some extent, picking who you want to market to will save you a ton of time and energy because you’ll be showing your ads to the right people who are more likely to shop with you. Let’s use the example of the organic coffee roaster who only serves mochas. First, take their values into consideration before drawing the immediate conclusion that they’re audience is solely organic coffee lovers is great, but there is much more to who they are and who they can sell to. If you think about the people who love chocolate and those who may think coffee is okay but love the environment much more, you’ve got two more groups to reach. Those two groups of people may find your content equally as intriguing as those who simply love coffee. And if those people only knew that they could get a delicious mocha that would simultaneously support their values, they’d be hooked for eternity!

Once you’re able to see the whole picture of who you want to market to, it’s time to start finding your followers! As stated in our blog about starting an e-commerce businessthere are tricks to the trade. Look for local businesses that may have some customers that would love you. Bars, bookstores, outdoor supply stores, etc. are all great candidates. Not only will their customers follow these brands, but the employees will usually be following them as well. If you hook the employees, they’ll most likely tell everyone they encounter how much they love you and then boom… you’re a social media sensation in no time! Now it’s time to start planning some content.

Creating a Content Plan:

Now that you’ve established your values and you’ve chosen an audience that you’re targeting, it’s time to start thinking content. This content should be as original as possible and should ideally avoid posting Google image copies. Even though coffee cherries are all over the internet, they don’t tell your story. Unless you were holding them in your hand and could explain the feeling of being on the farm and the hike it took to get to that cherry, there won’t be much for your followers to identify with.

Creating a plan can be as simple or as rigid as you want it to be. My suggestion is always to over prepare so that the worst case is that you end up with an abundance of content to use. The worst thing in the world when you’re managing a social account is to wake up and realize that you’ve gone two weeks without a post. Your followers will begin to forget that they follow you and consequently will begin to phase your brand out of their brains. To avoid this, we would suggest to:

-Group your photos into one folder for each month: Each month will be different. Obviously, you won’t be posting photos of people on the beach drinking iced tea if you’re hoping to promote hot coffee sales in the winter. Be intentional and proactive with your posts. Looking into your sales reports will help you to identify trends and choose when to promote certain items. By doing this, you’ll be more likely to drive business at the right times that if you just did some shot in the dark posts. No sales, no problem. Now is the time for you to do some shot in the dark posts to gather some data.

-Create a running document that has a caption for each of those photos: Let’s face it… our brains don’t function that well when we’ve only been awake for a few seconds. By writing your captions ahead of time, you’ll be able to properly spell check them and make sure that they all make sense. There’s nothing worse than posting an amazing image and then typing something that looks like this: “This baeutifil Geisha is so bright and fruity that it’ll maek your head spin!” By making this mistake, you’ve now begun to eat away at the trust that you’re working so hard to build with your followers. Take it from us… pre-write your captions.

-Lastly, create a posting schedule: This schedule will change with any new products or events that you have coming up. Your hard work will pay off when you start to see how much time you have to respond to comments and messages that otherwise would have been put into finding a quick random photo just to stay present.

Growing Your Following:

So, you’ve got some incredible photos and your game plan is top notch… how do you get people to care? Easier said than done in some cases, but we’ve got you.

This may sound like a broken record at this point, but your neighbors are your friends. If there are other businesses in your town, there are potential customers. This step will require searching for those businesses and liking a bunch of images to gain some attention from your new visitors. We promise this will pay off when you see those same faces visiting your shop and posting about it for all their friends to see. If and when people start posting about how amazing you and your cafes are, be sure to repost/ use their experience in your IG/ FB story! This will work as social proof and will continue to boost credibility with your followers and customers!

Aside from working to grow your following on social media exclusively, try to drive traffic to your page from all sources possible. Have a busy café? Then a sign at your register should do the trick! Have a website? Link your social media feed to your site! By doing these easy things, you’ll increase awareness of your page and instill your brand in your customers minds for as long as they are followers.

Another idea that works well is to add value to your account is to try some spread the word type give away campaigns to gain followers quickly. This doesn’t always catch on, but when it does… it does! It doesn’t have to be anything significant either. Something as simple as “Tag three friends for a chance to win a free bag of coffee” works perfectly. The value of those three friends visiting your page/ shop far surpasses the amount that the one bag would cost you to roast and package in most cases.

Taking all marketing and advertising strategies away for a second, make sure to be genuine with each and every customer/ visitor in your shops and on your page. This goes further than any post possibly could and will separate you from all of the other companies that are selling similar products. If you’re real and you give your customers a great experience, they will be more than happy to stay with your brand for years to come no questions asked. If you present a false image of who you are on social media, your customers will be quick to respond by not following and not showing interest in what you have to post about. Be the awesome company that you are. The rest will follow!

Retaining Your Following:

As easy as it was to build a large awesome following of great people, they can all go away in the blink of an eye. Why? Lackluster content, ingenuine wording, values not being displayed, the list can go on and on. Really, when it comes down to retaining your following, it comes down to consistency. Stay on top of your planning and stay on top of your values.

This entire article can be summed up with this: What you believe in (your company values) is what drives your company forward. And what you believe in is what links customers to your brand. It’s that simple.

Recap:

1. Decide who you are and what you want to accomplish: Create a clear plan and find your company’s voice.

2. Create a content plan: Be intentional and be ahead of the curve.

3. Create inviting content: Be 100% genuine. People will connect with that.

4. Grow your following: Signage, giveaways, but most importantly be honest and real!

5. Retain that following: Stay awesome. That’s all.

Mike Ward

Mike is a new Trader at Royal Coffee NY. Before joining the team at Royal, he spent 7+ years with a rapidly expanding roaster in Monmouth County NJ. In his time with them he managed their e-commerce platform, assisted in marketing, product launches, and green buying. As a certified Q grader, being surrounded by coffee all the time is his absolute dream.