When You Engage Small, Your Impact is Big
Owning a small business or freelancing (which is essentially the same thing) can look daunting. The idea of working for yourself sounds so freeing. You get to do the thing you love and answer to no one. But then you start to think, “Where is this work going to come from?” Now you have to be the marketer, salesperson, HR, and accountant.
But many are successful without being a so-called guru in any of those extracurricular activities. There’s a lot of learning, but I think a lot of success starts with small, consistent motions.
The Importance of Social Media
Marketing, for example, is a full-time job. Some companies have teams of people whose sole job is to run social media platforms. As a small business owner, that might not be a possibility for you, small engagements with people and local businesses is possible, and for many companies, it’s a necessity.
Engagement revolves around social media and it is vital for any business when it comes to algorithms and overall appearance to your followers to show you’re listening. Social media is a beast, but setting up one or two posts a week could be enough to build that following for your business.
There are a ton of tips and guidance out there on how to set yourself up for social media success. How you interact with your audience after you post is just as important.
Engaging the Community
My company launched an initiative this May called Engage Small. It was crafted to celebrate and uplift small business owners of every type, size, and function. We featured a different grouping every day for a week and encouraged followers to tag their favorite small businesses, using the hashtag #engagesmall when doing so. We found that some of the biggest impact was small business owners lifting each other up.
When you post on social media, you’re looking for engagement. You want likes, shares, and comments. So, when these fans come out to engage, you should be there for the conversation. Let them know you hear them and that will encourage them to come back to do it again.
Imagine pulling over on the side of the highway to comment on a billboard to yourself. Social media opens up so much more possibility to not only engage, but to react and possibly help reshape a negative experience or lift up a positive one.
How to Engage Big as a Small Business
Since most of us are small, one-person companies, that “business” engagement can feel contrived. But I think our nimble businesses are an advantage. People want to talk to the humans behind the brands, and that’s exactly what we are: humans. Having passion, personality and compassion on social media allows people to know there's a real person on the other end, and that can go a long way.
Part of our Engage Small campaign was intended to get small business owners to lift up their neighbors. Succeed together is a mantra that I think all freelancers and small businesses owners should repeat every day. There is no reason we can’t all rise together. If you’re finding that the engagement isn’t organically coming to you, be the engagement on other’s channels.
Recommending Other Businesses
If you’re a florist, tag a coffee shop down the street and let your followers know how great their baristas are. If you’re an illustrator, remind everyone of your fantastic accountant. If you’re a writer, lift up a fellow writer and share some of their recent work. Tag these business owners in your posts (if they're on social media) or link back to their website.
Don’t think of yourself as a competitor. You’re an artist or a specialist or a business owner. Whatever you are, you’re not a billboard, so don’t let your social media be that either. Engage Small, and engage often. Send out positivity any way you can and I promise it will come back.
About the author
Brandan Baki is a graduate of Columbia College Chicago and has worked for Method Studios, Akron Children’s Hospital and Outcome Health creating content for marketing, education, TV commercials, music videos and short films. In 2017, he created 26Made (formerly Parallel Vision Post), an independent post-production studio in Avon, OH. In 2018, Brandan launched the Cleveland chapter of the Freelancers Union SPARK program which he currently co-leads. In 2020, he launched Engage Small to encourage engagement for small businesses and freelancers.