Some weeks ago, we wrote a newsletter on how to craft the right message that addresses your customers’ needs and increase sales.
We got a lot of feedback [which we are grateful for 🙏] and we also got some topic requests from community members. Today, we’ll be addressing one of those topics. We will make sure to cover the rest in our subsequent newsletters. Please feel free to drop your suggestions in the comment or email me at email@example.com.
So down to the topic of today: a small business owner’s guide to taking your business online. This newsletter will be highly practical and longer than usual. Bookmark it so that you can read it up later or go back to it when you’re ready to take your business online. Also, we’ll point you to additional resources that will cover areas that we didn’t explain in detail.
Mary sells dried catfish and occasionally, she sells other varieties as well. Since she started her business in 2018, she has been selling mostly from her store. Her major marketing channel has been WhatsApp where she posts photos of her goods on her status and also sends broadcast messages to her contacts to inform them when her goods arrive.
Attending Lagos SME Bootcamp Season 4 was an Aha moment for Mary. Where she learnt that it is possible to reach more customers online. Afterwards, she carefully researched the ways she can take her small business online as well as the actions she has to take to attract and retain her customers.
This newsletter will capture all the steps Mary took as well as why she took them.
P.S. Mary started with four items.
Create a Facebook Business page
Create an Instagram account
Create a Google Business Profile
Build an email list.
But today, we’ll cover the first two: how to create a Facebook Business Page and how to create an Instagram account. Next week, we’ll finish up creating a Google Business Profile and building an email list.
Alright. Let’s go.
Step 1: Creating a Facebook Business Page
At first, Mary was sceptical. Should she create a Facebook page or not? (Thinking emoji) Eventually, she decided to google how effective Facebook is for small businesses and the results were mindblowing.
Facebook is actually a great sales channel. It is the biggest social media network with up to 2.8billion users. Her target audience - which will most likely fall between 25 years to 44 years are active there and spend an average of 2hours 44 minutes hours daily. These stats convinced Mary that Facebook is ideal for her business.
It didn’t end there. Her next thought was “how exactly am I going to use Facebook to grow my business?”. It was a no-brainer. She had to create a Facebook strategy for her business.
This was Mary’s goal for Facebook:
It was important for Mary to set this goal at the onset because she wanted to put out targeted posts that will actually grow her business. She also wanted to measure the performance of these posts to know if they’re working for her.
Another reason why Mary set these goals is that they will act as a guide, showing her exactly what she needs to do on Facebook and the strategies she will use to achieve these goals.
Here’s what she did.
Create a Facebook Business Page: Mary didn’t think it was wise for her to sell on her personal page. The reason is this: a business page will give her access to a suite of tools that are not available on a personal page. The first thing Mary did on her page was to add her store address, her opening hours and the link to a landing page she created on Mailchimp. On this page, her followers can download a free recipe of 20 Nigerian foods you can make with dried catfish. (we’ll talk more about this next week)
Mary wanted to be proactive. She knew that she would get messages about her pricing, delivery and other product-related questions. Considering that sales is one of her objectives, she didn’t want to keep people waiting and risk losing their interest when they’re ready to buy.
So she used the simple automation in Facebook Messenger to automate answers to frequently asked questions. Now, when anyone comes to her DM, they see a list of questions they can choose from with the answer attached to it. This works 24/7. This reduced the number of time and energy she will spend responding to all questions (remember Maty is a one-man band)
What Mary loved most was the creator studio. As a Masters’ student combining education and entrepreneurship, she could schedule posts into the future, with Facebook even showing her when her customers are online so she can schedule her posts for that time.
Mary loves to say that she is a work in progress and hasn't completely hacked Facebook. But when she started, she found this resource so helpful. It contains tools she can leverage to grow her business on Facebook, a free personalized marketing plan and free courses and webinars to help her grow her business on the platform.
Facebook community: Next, Mary created a Facebook group. Remember one of Mary’s goals was engagement. She wanted to move beyond her page and create a group for food enthusiasts. She wanted a place where people can discuss any and everything about food. (Eventually, the group evolved to include discussions on how to introduce babies to natural food, foods to feed a child that’s a picky eater. People even planned cookouts in the group and invited others.)
Why did Mary do this? Her strategy was to focus on the long term. She knew that at the beginning, she couldn't sell to the members of the group. Her goal at the early stage was to get people to participate, then fall in love with the group and invite others to join. She wanted to build trust and become a go-to person for all things & anything about food. With all this in place, she can easily sell her products without stress. In fact, her primary aim was to build a monetizable audience.
Step 2: Create an Instagram account
Mary’s goal for Instagram was similar to that of Facebook but the strategies were different. For instance, the live feature is more popular and very well utilized on Instagram than on Facebook. So she created an event where she went live every Friday to show her followers unconventional meals you can cook with dried fish.
At first, nobody came but Mary was consistent. She created highlights where she saved videos of the live session so that people who missed it would watch later (She didn’t leave out her Facebook community, she also made sure to always post a link to the live session on the group for members to also be a part of). In fact, when you ask her about any meal preparation, she will point you to the highlight to watch the video.
Mary devoted so much time to making videos on Instagram because she read on how the Instagram market prioritizes videos. Her videos were mostly ‘How tos’, ‘Behind the scenes, and ‘Snippet on a day with Mary’. She also made a video of her trips to the south to purchase her products and some more videos of the fishermen catching the fishes, drying and preserving them.
Mary uses carousels too. Her carousels were mostly educational posts like recipes and food hacks. She also made sales posts too.
Here’s a quick summary of how Mary got started on Instagram.
She optimized her business bio. This made it interesting, and she was able to achieve this by using fewer words which at the same time, accurately described what her business does (She used emojis to save space on some words).
She also used keywords in her bio. That way, when people search for the services she offers, her account will show up (This also helps in displaying her content on the explore page of users who interact with similar content).
Mary posted frequently on IG stories and explored reels too.
Over to you!
Did you get any inspiration on how to use Facebook and/or Instagram to run your business?
What are your suggestions?
Have you tried any of the strategies Mary used?
If yes, how has it helped your business? And if not, what strategies did you employ in place of that?
Please tell us in the comments. Questions are also welcome (smiley emoji).
Instagram Stories: Learn how you can grow your business using Instagram Stories.
Instagram Reels: Learn how to use Instagram Reels for your business here.
Auto responses: How to set up auto-responses for your Facebook Business Page.
Other Instagram tools you can leverage to grow your business. Check them out here.