Are you using your social channels in the right way? Here’s some expert advice.

Using social media for fun is one thing. But if we’re trying to get work from it, build our brand and attract an audience who may eventually become our clients – well that’s a whole other thing. So why are so many of us afraid of it? For all the women we meet who are all over social media there seem to be just as many who lurk and hover but never comment. Or can’t quite get to grips with using it effectively. Or just don’t like social media at all.

I can’t deny that my relationship with social media has been a trepidatious one. Joining Facebook way back in 2007 I didn’t actually start using it until 2013. Why? Because it was a scary new world that I didn’t really understand and wasn’t sure I wanted to be part of. Eventually I got over myself and thank goodness, because in lockdown social media has often been a lifesaver, just for helping me stay connected and to realise I’m not the only one who feels what I feel.

Sure there are things I don’t like about social channels – the spats, the endless sponsored posts, the humble-brags, the political rants, the trolls, the ‘look at my amazing life’ posts that I sometimes suspect are just covering up a need to be seen. But it serves an important role too. I can’t deny that the almost daily announcements of the loss of another beloved parent, uncle or aunt, of company closures and friends who’ve lost their jobs have been a very stark reminder of the heartbreaking human cost of Covid 19.

Nonetheless, it took me ages to get comfortable with social media, to find my voice and use it to reach new people.

That was until we were launching Audrey, when spreading the word and finding our tribe relied on social media – and still does. Perhaps I needed a mission, a real purpose, in order to find that voice. Once you get over your fear and learn to use it the right way, social media can be a joy. And let’s not forget that it’s also free marketing for anyone that needs it.

“If you’re running a business and you’re not on social media, you’re missing a trick,” says Annie Brooks, one half of Sister Snog, the business club for remarkable women. “If you’re trying to build a business and a brand, you need to be visible and it’s an easy and free way to achieve that. How can you serve your clients? What problems can you solve for them? Show you’re an authority in your area with the expertise to help”.

Yet I still meet women all the time – many of whom run businesses or side hustles – who struggle with social media. “There are times when it can feel like a negative space and I have to take myself off it,” says one. “I’m not always in the right mood, I can fall out of love with it” says another. But there are many more that have made friends, found work, launched a career and built their brand while enjoying a sense of community that is sadly often lacking in modern life – especially in lockdown.

So if we’re trying to use social media to ultimately get work that pays the bills, how on earth can we stand out? There are so many of us out there fighting for attention – how do we create real connection with people? “It’s all about telling stories. We need to be authentic and talk about why we do what we do,” says Marina Conway-Gordon, founder of the Real Life of Brands.

“People want to know the story behind your brand and how you think, not just what you do. Share how your experiences have shaped your brand and how you run it. Share your challenges and doubts, because that’s how people identify with you, just like a protagonist in a film,” says Marina. In this way you can affect someone’s thoughts and actions in a positive way.

Get into a routine by setting aside half an hour each day to post, like, comment, share and do live updates on your social channels and don’t just use them to blast people with your amazing skills, services and products – engage with them and be a voice in your sector. If you feel left behind by social media and how to use it, Digital Mums run courses to help get you up to speed.

If you’re still finding your feet, keep a notebook to scribble down ideas for stories to post, snippets of your life and your day that will give your followers more of an insight into you and your brand. And if you’re not sure when is the best time to share posts on social media, you can find this out here. If being ‘real’ and authentic doesn’t seem to get you any likes or shares, that doesn’t mean it’s the ‘wrong’ approach, says Marina. “No response is not necessarily a bad response,”. As long as your posts are authentically you, and consistent with your brand, it’s all good. “And never leave a comment unanswered,” says Annie. “You could be missing out on a golden opportunity if you don’t follow up on it”.

Words: Marina Gask