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Social Media Hints & Tips Series – Instagram 

It sounds obvious, but social media it is an essential part of every business, especially for retailers. It allows you to raise awareness of your business, as well as sell your products and services directly to your core target market. 

Over the past few years more and more customers have turned to the convenience of online shopping.  The pandemic has accelerated this trend, particularly during the national lockdowns.  

However consumers are increasingly keen to support local businesses so if this is you then now is a good time to build a relationship with your customers online.

The best thing to remember is work on the social media platform that works best for you, you can try them all but best start with a couple, like Instagram or Facebook to gage how best your audience interacts with you. 

Our fortnightly social media hints and tips for businesses will explore a different platform and offer insight to help your business grow online. Today we focus on Instagram. 

Instagram 

Getting started on Instagram is fairly straightforward. Facebook actually owns Instagram, so you may want to link both accounts from the outset, which will enable you to post on both platforms simultaneously.

Once created, remember to edit your profile; include a photo of your shop or business logo with a brief description of what you do. The most important part is to make sure you include your address and contact details. 

If you wish people to buy direct from you and/or you don’t have website, then ask them to message you to arrange payment or set up a payment link (such as PayPal) to take orders.

Instagram is first and foremost about good quality pictures, so do:

- Take pictures of your products, make them look appealing and ensure the lighting is good
- Add descriptions of your products and any discounts you are offering
- Include relevant hashtags in your post - use a hashtag generator via a search engine to see what’s trending  
- Keep to a maximum of 27 hashtags per post, as comment or under the description
- Avoid following too many other accounts, gone are the days where you had to follow anyone and everyone. Instead ensure that you are following the accounts you want to see on your news feed and to engage with. 
- Check your followers list periodically and remove any accounts which haven’t engaged with you for a while
- Make sure you tell customers how they can buy from you 
- Most importantly when customer do purchase from you, encourage them to leave a review.

The aim is to build a story and get customers to know you and feel as though they are as connected to your business as you are. 

Instagram stories and Reels are a great way to reach a wider audience and customers love to see a behind the scenes. The stories are useful to re-share the posts on your main page, and add in text and some fun emoji’s/GIFs to make them stand out. They appear at the top of your Instagram feed and often get more views and engagement, it’s a great way to build a following. You can tag individuals and businesses, which gives them a chance to share to their own pages to reach a bigger audience. 

Reels are Instagram’s version of 15/30/60 second videos that you can share either to your story or post on your main page. They can often reach thousands of accounts very quickly. If you make bespoke products, it’s a great way to record yourself making them behind the scenes. Audiences love to see how things are made. 

Utilise these and encourage your friends, family and customers to share their purchases by tagging you into their own stories/feed for you to re-share. 

If you use Instagram successfully for your business, please do share your story with us and we’d love to share as a case study to encourage more businesses to get on board. Send through your stories to business@solihull.gov.uk.

 

Explore Learning - Shirley High Street

Explore Learning, situated on Shirley High Street, is a tuition provider, and we nurture education for children aged 4-14. However, we think of ourselves more as a learning club. We aim to make education engaging and fun for our children and love to incorporate games and celebrations for every small win! Our aim with every child that walks through our doors is confidence building. Confidence is key in unlocking every child’s potential so that’s where we start and that’s where we see progress!

Back in January 2020, our offering was limited to centre-based tuition. We offered our standard Maths and English as well as our specialist 11+ tuition, Creative Writing course, and Succeed in Secondary course – all from the comfort of 140 Stratford Road!

Since 2020, as you can imagine, we faced the tricky challenge of moving our entire service online! We packed up our laptops and worked from home, as everyone else did. Our company developed specialist technology to deliver 1:1 sessions online. We learnt how to deliver group sessions online and how to nurture our membership, continuing to provide support through a virtual format. This was no easy feat!

Working throughout Covid, our motto was Keep Education Going as this was more important than ever! We, as a virtual centre, supported around 170 members throughout this time and continued their education as well as giving them an ear to listen; a virtual shoulder to place their worries onto; and something to look forward to! Seeing the positive impact, we were making, and continuing to make through the virtual world, was highly rewarding and kept us going throughout the lockdown!

We see the value in what we do so much more now, ironically thanks to Covid, as the impact we make reaches further and means so much more than before. We went from being a tuition provider to becoming a support network for our families.

Now, the centre is open once more! Our support network continues to thrive online, but we have been able to bring it back to our community! More than ever, families are reaching out as they know we can support them. Lockdown learning was tough as parents became teachers, people struggled to navigate virtual learning platforms and worries upon worries made it difficult to know when it was all going to end! Now we have re-opened, Explore Learning is still striving to support!

We help bridge gaps that formed over the lockdown period. We help your family to navigate online learning. We provide regular feedback, so you feel in-the-loop and up-to-date with your child’s progress. We also provide flexible sessions to cater for isolating children. Overall, our impact has grown massively, and we hope to keep it going!

If you are looking for a confidence building learning environment, then we are currently holding free trials and assessments to show how we can support your family. You can also enquire through our website. You can call or email us to find out more! Our number is 0121 647 4395 and our email is shirley@explorelearning.co.uk

 

Social Media Hints and Tips Series – Facebook

This week we focus on setting up a Facebook page. Facebook was one of the earlier social media platforms that most consumers will have an account on. It is still one of the biggest platforms for businesses to use, particularly for an older demographic.

You can also link it to your Instagram account, both owed by Facebook, so that you can share content across both channels.

Facebook

Setting up a business Facebook page is incredibly easy and effective, but it must be linked to a personal account. Once you’ve set it up, you can invite friends and family to share and like your posts, which will help with engagement and reaching more customers.

Remember to add your business logo, address and contact details as well as a little about you on your business page. If you wish people to buy direct from you and/ or you don’t have website, then ask them to message you to arrange payment or set up a payment link (such as PayPal) to take orders.

Try to avoid just talking about products, prices and availability, add good quality pictures and descriptions of your products and any discounts you are offering with a call to action on how customers can buy from you and most importantly when they do, how to leave a review.

It’s good to balance posts between direct sales/product information with advice and guidance about how to use the products, trends in your retail area and other engaging copy.  Try and keep 80% of your posts about general information and mixed up with about 20% of direct ‘here’s a product’ or special offers.

Remember most people want to have a relationship with the retailers they use or those who supply services.  In a crowded online market place driven by price, it’s always good for customers to feel a little tug towards their local businesses.

Keep up to date with us at Visit Solihull and send in your good news stories!



Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council
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Email business@solihull.gov.uk
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