Whether it’s Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or elsewhere, we’re checking in, catching up, and connecting with each other more and more. These have become spaces of virtual community where we can hang up our “ukulele classes” posters just as we might have done in our in-person communities in the past.
First, let’s touch on some of the benefits of using social media.
An important one is that it is generally free and that’s a big win for your marketing budget! Most social media platforms allow you to create and manage basic accounts for no fee. In some cases, you might pay for advertising if you want your post to be seen by specific audiences, but if you build up followers, you can speak directly to them.
It’s a wonderful opportunity to build and expand your community or connections. Particularly during the pandemic, many of us have turned to social media for opportunities to engage. These platforms can provide more reach than ever.
You can also do a lot of this work yourself; you don’t need to hire a marketing team. With a little knowledge, you can mostly manage these tools on your own.
These platforms can provide more reach than ever.
Of course, one thing to always be mindful of is how time-consuming social media can inadvertently become. How many of us have logged on and then suddenly realized that half an hour or more has passed? It’s something you need to be careful with to protect your time and energy so it’s important to schedule in time to manage your accounts, to respond to conversations, and to scan the landscape for opportunities to engage.
Social media is called “social” for a reason: it’s all about relationships. It’s about connecting, sharing, listening and interacting. Here are some quick tips to keep in mind as you jump into, or regroup on, your social media strategy.
It’s important to know what the landscape is before you start and to keep an eye on it as you grow. Listening, just as in good conversations, is as important as talking. See what others are offering, what people are looking for, and then begin to create your own space to bring what you uniquely offer in a way that can meet needs and differentiate yourself. Do you have an interest in teaching children? Are you skilled at particular techniques? Is your focus within a specific genre? Carve out a niche for yourself by creating a space online that is uniquely you and can offer what people are looking for.
Quick Tip: Have a business account separate from your personal account and try to keep personal content out of your business account.
On the note of creating your online identity and space, consider your branding. Is your online personality lively and fun? Is it serious and focused? Consider the kinds of people you want to attract to your programs and what would appeal to that audience.
Come up with a plan for sharing content. What messages do you want to get across? What goals do you have? Create a calendar of content so you can be thoughtful and consistent about your communications to keep people engaged.
Make your content look as good as you can. Do your best with photos and sound quality. You don’t have to aim for unattainable high standards, but you do want them to look or sound as good as possible if you are establishing yourself as professional. For example, audio recordings using good microphones and quiet recording spaces. Video? In addition to good lighting and presence on the screen, don’t forget to scan what’s in the background of your shot if you’re filming at home, as many of us are these days.
If you want people to engage with you and what you’re offering, you also need to engage! Build your presence in the community by following, liking and commenting on posts of people in your network or who you’d like to be connected to. Start conversations. Ask questions. Build relationships!
Be sure to keep your accounts active, too. Don't create too many to manage. You'll lose followers if you aren't regularly posting. Fewer accounts and more regular posting/engagement is best!
Be sure you’re considering where and what you’re posting. Are you sure you want to share your phone number in a public social media platform? Are you sharing photos of people that you teach? If so, have you got their permission to do so? Being mindful of security and privacy is also very important, especially if it involves children.
Quick Tip: Do not create accounts and then rarely post! Don't let accounts go dormant.
Don’t abuse direct messages. Special offers or reaching out using direct messages can be nice occasionally but it can quickly feel like spamming.
What is your ideal audience? Where do they communicate? What are the basics of what the platform can do? The three biggest platforms are free but offer paid options for advertising or shared posts to specific audiences.
There are many other platforms, of course (Tumblr, Pinterest, LinkedIn) and some focus more on video-based content (TikTok, YouTube, SoundCloud). We’ll talk about the video-based ones specifically in a future post.
You’ll need to decide which platform(s) make sense for you. Ask yourself how much time you have to manage the accounts, where your audiences are spending their time, and what kind of content you would like to share. Focus on one account, keep it active and engaged, and grow from there! Lastly, try not to care about “likes” but rather stay true to yourself and your teaching philosophy. Think about what’s important to you, what you offer, and keep that focus.
We’ll see you online!
Cynthia Kinnunen is a music educator from Guelph, Ontario and is part of Team Uketropolis. www.cynthiakmusic.com
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