Promoting your business

How clear social media goals can help grow your business

Women Making Gravy’s Edwina Robertson used community engagement and regional workshops to help grow a more than 5,000-strong Instagram following for her business in just three months. Here, she discusses why setting clear social media goals and objectives is vital for your business.

Finding your audience

A long-time wedding photographer, unable to sit around for months without purpose, Robertson initially used the COVID-19 slump to start offering Creative Mastermind online group sessions on the importance of social media in business to her 22,000 Instagram followers.

“There was a real thirst for that knowledge. With each session there were more and more followers,” she says. “So eventually I created Women Making Gravy to help women make Instagram work for their business as it had for mine.”

Based in Toowoomba, Robertson says there’s often a greater need for social media awareness in the country, where it’s not so easy to be seen. “There’s so much creativity out there, and that’s where Instagram is most effective,” she says. That’s why she decided to take Women Making Gravy on the road to educate women in rural or regional areas on how to use Instagram to promote their businesses.

Within a week, she organised 14 workshops and seminars in 10 locations around regional NSW and Queensland – despite threats of impending border closures at the time. “We got back across the border about six hours before it was locked down,” she recalls.

What surprised Robertson about these rural engagements was that the smaller the town, the larger the turnout. “Our attendees all came away inspired, and I think they really appreciated that I was bringing this kind of knowledge to the country. There was so much gratitude,” she says.

In just three months of operation, Women Making Gravy’s Instagram following grew to almost 5,500 followers – a testament to Robertson’s instinct. “They said I was crazy,” she laughs. “But I didn’t think about it, I just did it. I don’t fear failure.”

If you’re not learning, you’re dying

During her first brush with Instagram as a wedding photographer, Robertson admits she started from scratch. “When I started using Instagram for my wedding photography business, I didn’t know how it worked,” she says. “So I started learning because if you’re not learning, you’re dying.”

So after some free YouTube tutorials and attending a training course in late 2019, Robertson began learning everything she could about the platform: what it loves, how its algorithms work and the importance of consistency. “I take what I think is necessary to my audience and form my lessons from that.”

The key to success

“The most common mistake people make with social media is to focus on followers,” says Robertson. “It’s engagement that’s the key to success. That’s why you can’t just post when you’ve got a free moment,” she says. “So your first goal should be to find out when your followers are most active online. That’s your time to post.”

Engagement, she says, in combination with carefully curated hashtags, posting times and well-written, engaging captions, is key to growing an organic following. You should always be open to the needs of your desired market.

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Be worth following

Even though Instagram can be an entirely free experience, Robertson says value is still a factor. “You need to give your followers a reason to follow you, and these rural businesses have so many reasons.”

“If you provide value and help to your followers, you’re worth following. If you can engage your followers, you’re worth following. And Instagram’s algorithms are based on engagement, not the volume of content you post or the number of followers you have.”

Even three months and more than 5,000 followers into the Women Making Gravy journey, this is still at the heart of Robertson’s methodology. “Even now, I’m focused on showing my audience that I know my stuff. I have to maintain that trust – that they can listen to me and it’ll be worth it. I have to walk the walk.”

It’s that mantra that’s propelling Robertson to her own next goal. “I’m looking to reach and engage with 10,000 followers in the next two months,” she says. “The more eyes on me, the more eyes on my pages, and the more potential for community engagement.”

There’s no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic has been a catalyst for social media engagement, but it’s important to keep expectations of millions of followers in check. It’s possible to build an audience organically, says Robertson, but it’s crucial to make sure your business is worth following.

“Any business is a solution, and by helping and providing value to your social media audience, you become that solution.”

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