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Social media gives small businesses the opportunity to hold a up mirror for their customers in a way websites can’t. Your business is more than a space, a website or a service–it runs thanks to real people who care just as much about its success as you do. No amount of casual, clever or personable text on your “About” page compares to pictures and quotes from real people in their community. If you plan ahead and keep consistent with your brand, you can create Facebook, Twitter and Instagram feeds that showcase who you are and what you believe in.

Here at Lendistry, we put ourselves out there because we believe in relating to business owners and learning about them. It’s only fair to let them get to know us, too. It’s been a learning process, but here are some valuable lessons we’ve learned along the way.

 

Paying Attention to Hashtags and Trends

We all know there are certain hashtags for each industry and topic, which you can research with your posts, but if you use the same ones all the time, your audience will stay the same. Besides, most people post with trends on their personal accounts, so why shouldn’t businesses? For a more dynamic approach, keep a list of fun national holidays. #NationalIceCreamDay? Share some pics of the team with their favorite flavors.

The Lendistry team is packed with dog lovers, so we pooled our favorite pet pics and had a little fun, but we didn’t skimp on the branding. Instead of just posting pictures, we collected and framed them in our colors, fonts and logos and used doglover hashtags to widen their spread.

 

Embrace Your Community

Everybody is from somewhere, and a business is nothing without its place–its context. Showcasing yourselves enjoying and engaging in your community shows that you’re about more than yourselves. You’re out there in the community, anyway, so include pictures on you social media to make your online presence match your three-dimensional presence.

Lendistry is in southern California, and we’re very active in our community, so we show that pride on our social media. Last week, we shared our team’s favorite places to have some fun and tied it into a #SpringBreak theme, making sure to tag anyplace we mentioned as well to get the most out of every post.

 

Show What You Care About

This article comes from a human writer, so here I come busting through for a moment. In writing, there’s a classic rule – “show, don’t tell”. To translate this into social media, HubSpot confirms this storytelling rule, stating that visual content is more frequently viewed and shared than plain text.

Everyone cares about something, and every business has a focus. For example, if you own a restaurant or food truck, you should be showing yourself and your team as eaters, foodies, gourmets. Pair photos with real quotes and names.

During #RestaurantWeek, we shared our favorite places to eat. But at Lendistry we are all about small businesses, so we made sure to not only share our favorite restaurants, but our favorite locally-owned eateries. No big chains. We also tagged those local restaurants in our posts so they got to share in the love, too.

Be Personal, But Keep it Professional

You are aiming to show your human side, but make sure all pictures are appropriate to your business and represent it well. To put it delicately, pay attention to the background of any personal photos and any logos that may be on display on clothing. Correct typos and big errors in quotes, and keep photos high-resolution and clear.

 

Free Team Building

Here’s one last secret: this level of engagement isn’t just for your customer base. It’s for your team, too. They like to know that their work is appreciated and that you see them as people with lives. But it won’t be fun if you overwhelm them with last minute requests. For their sakes, plan a couple of weeks ahead, space out your asks, and be specific about what you need (a photo, a quote, a recommendation, etc.). From time to time, ask THEM what they’d like to share instead of telling them what you want.

When your social media feed is balanced with human beings with personalities and preferences, you achieve a new level of connection with your community.