Small business owners and managers seeking new information on social media had the chance to learn from one of the best this month at our Small Business Forum. Andrew McCauley of SwingPoint Media is known as the Social Media Bloke, and with good reason. He’s been named to lists of the most influential social media marketers, and has helped hundreds of businesses ramp up their social media and digital efforts. At CVEP’s Small Business Forum, McCauley shared what social media practices are alive and well in 2020 – and which ones are no longer viable.

Unpaid reach on Facebook is virtually extinct

What does that mean, exactly? There was a time – up until about 2013, if we want to be specific – that Facebook’s algorithms would put business content in the feeds of followers. Those days are (mostly) gone. Your business posts may show up in the feeds of a few superfans, but Facebook earns revenue by charging money for reach. If your business wants to get in front of a lot of people, you’ll have to pay for it. If there is a silver lining here, it is that businesses don’t have to spend a lot of money to reach a significant number of people. Even $20 can make a difference.

TikTok is moving beyond a teenage audience

Maybe you’ve heard of TikTok, the video creation and sharing app owned by Chinese company ByteDance. While there are increasing security and censorship concerns about the platform – all branches of the military, the Transportation Safety Administration, and the Department of Homeland Security have banned the platform from official government devices – it continues to grow in popularity. Businesses are beginning to use the platform as a way to tell their brand stories, and some are doing so very successfully. McCauley says the secret to success on TikTok is authenticity: people view videos on the platform because they enjoy seeing things that are real. TikTok may not be a fit for every business, but McCauley cautioned against dismissing it entirely. Those businesses that get in early will have the best chance at gaining a following.

More than anything, your content matters

You’ve heard it a thousand times: content is king. Dreaming up creative and original content is difficult, though! How can a busy small business owner find time to even think about what makes great content? When it comes to identifying what would make good content, McCauley shared a trade secret. Think about the questions and inquiries that your business receives most frequently. Can you draft a short article to address those questions?

Recently, CVEP opened a new business incubator in the City of Indio, the Indio iHub. As soon as the news was public, our phone began to ring with inquiries. This was wonderful, except many of the inquiries were from business sectors that we don’t focus on. Using McCauley’s principle, and thinking of how we could answer a question often asked, we published What to Know Before You Apply to the iHub. Not only is it useful today, but it will remain useful for years into the future.

Resist the temptation to use social media solely to share the dates of your next big discount sale. If you’re using social media only to post about the latest sale, you’re missing out on an opportunity to deliver value to your audience. Discounts are great, but your brand is so much more than that, isn’t it? Today’s customers seek out content that educates and inspires them, from brands they can relate to. Show your customers what makes your brand special. It might be your employees, beautiful past projects, unique products, or something else entirely. What matters more than the platforms you decide to use is the quality of the content that you share.