How & Where to Start Your Social Media Activity as a Business?

Social network icons scattered against a blue background

It seems an impossibility to consider opening a new business in any industry today without involving some sort of social media strategy. So much of our lives takes place online and with the advent of the Internet of Things and increasingly more accessible Internet and technology, social media is developing the power to make or destroy any type of business.

There are, of course, those businesses which are thriving from a purely online presence, utilizing Pinterest or Etsy to promote handmade crafts, or Instagram to promote catering businesses. Each social media platform has a user-ship with unique qualities and expectations as far as content, interaction and aesthetic. A small business can utilize a variety of platforms successfully, tailoring its content and look to best suit each individual online space.

When it comes to a coffee shop, there are specific strategies to keep in mind for successfully marketing through social media.

Many consumers’ first stop when they encounter a new brand will be Instagram, according to Small Business Chronicle. This is true in particular of visual products like clothing; but, with the popularization of latte art and café aesthetic, coffee shops can take advantage of this fact by curating a strong and pleasing Instagram presence. That fact is also specific to 20-30-year-olds which emphasize the need to understand your customer base in order to successfully build a social media presence.

In 2012 “40% of 18-24-year-olds are drinking coffee each day” and “54% of adults age 25-39 reported drinking coffee each day” (Small Business Development Center). There is also a rising trend in teenage consumers, if not as daily regulars then at least as semi-regulars in many coffee shops. The regular demographic for coffee shops, therefore, is the young adult, meaning that that focus on Instagram is a solid place to start your social media strategy.

That being said, a brief review of Starbucks’ social media showed that its followers on Facebook far outnumbered its numbers both on Instagram and Twitter. Facebook likes on the official (blue check-mark and all) Starbucks page numbered at 36,742,266 as of May 22, 2017; on Instagram, their numbers were 14.4 million and Twitter had 11.8 million. This follows with Pew Research’s 2016 findings that 79% of online Americans (their term, not mine) use Facebook, a number twice that for Twitter (24%); the same survey found that 31% use Pinterest, 32% use Instagram and 29% use LinkedIn. What this shows us is that if you’re going to focus on a single social media platform for promoting your coffee business, Facebook is your best option and Instagram is a solid second-place option. With the ease and affordability offered by most social media sites, however, and the fact that 68% of the entire adult American population use Facebook and 28% use Instagram and so forth, you should definitely strategize for multiple platforms.

With the coffee industry continuing to grow, your competition is solid and it’s not going anywhere anytime soon. Social media provides the opportunity for tailored customer engagement, increasing your business’ contact with potential customers as well as increasing the likelihood of returning customers. Social media, in particular, provides the opportunity for customers to engage with your brand, giving them more of a connection to it through posts about beautiful latte art, for example, and extending their appreciation for your brand to their hundreds or thousands of followers. Further, social media provides you the opportunity to create countless promotional opportunities, with low-key random coupons to your Facebook or Instagram followers, or boosting the visibility of events and sales across all platforms (particularly with Facebook events).

You can even investigate social apps like MeetUp for potential partnerships with local groups, offering your space for their events; giving large groups a discount or even just access to your space for a special occasion brings in customers who may not otherwise have considered your business and boosts your overall reputation with a specific, but important subset of the community.

Each social media platform has a specific energy and aesthetic. You can use Facebook for events, posting your menu, and posting longer form posts about your business, your employees, et cetera. Gregory’s Coffee in New York City utilizes its Instagram account for weekly promotions; on a random weekday morning, the account will post a picture of a treat or specific drink that is free or discounted if you mention the code or hashtag in the post. Many companies across a variety of industries have utilized Twitter to directly engage with customers, responding to complaints or compliments; Twitter, in particular, gives the opportunity for succinct and clever posts that are highly successful with today’s shorter attention span.

LinkedIn is utilized more by the older adult demographic, but it can be used to promote events, again, such as offering to accommodate business meetings or cater events with coffee. LinkedIn can also be used to partner with businesses in a variety of ways, solidifying your relationship with financially stable influencers.

Pinterest is much more about aesthetic or how-to, offering your business a chance to creatively connect with customers in a more subtle way. You can use this platform like a blog, offering educational posts that appeal to your customer base like how to make specialized latte art or inspirational posts featuring café aesthetics from ceramics to furniture to artwork.

Twitter, Facebook, and even Reddit can be solid avenues for interactive engagement with customers; Reddit is known for its “Ask Me Anything” events, where celebrities or employees or business owners participate in a question/answer session offering an inside look at whatever their specialty is. This offers a sense of authenticity and transparency that is especially desirable to today’s coffee consumer, who desires more and more a sense of involvement, positive impact and importance when it comes to the brands they invest in.

You can use Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and more to feature customers, as well, whether it involve reporting a customer’s latte art photo from your shop, a clever comment on Twitter, or an awesome art-post or article from one of your customers. This extends a hand to that particular customer and pulls in their followers and fans, as well as countless others who will appreciate your appreciation for your customers.

Once you’ve found your niche across all these platforms, you can also utilize their business features, such as ad promotion, direct engagement and purchasing, and so forth, boosting your business even further!

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14 Comments

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  1. We are now in the age of social media. I think its basically impossible to function as a business nowadays without owning at least one account on one of these platforms. Many businesses realize how valuable social media marketing is and they post photos of their products every day. I know that when I see a photo of a coffee which I like, I immediately want to go and have one. Many successful businesses owe their success to correctly made social media marketing.

  2. Pinterest is the one platform that I don’t really ‘get’… ok, so you pin what you like and all, but for me it’s difficult to find the original source (if I’m looking for a specific how-to pattern, of a craft image I like. I click link after link and never really find the pattern instructions – though the pin shows there are instructions somewhere)

    Think I’ll stick with FB, Twitter, and Instagram 🙂

  3. Social media truly is crucial in today’s world if you want to have a successful business. I know that anytime I hear about a business that interests me, I immediately look for their Facebook page. I don’t tend to look for them on Pinterest or Twitter though. Pinterest is a very specific platform that I think coffee businesses would have difficulty advertising through. Twitter could be useful, I suppose, but it’s often regarded as a second Facebook. I agree that Instagram is great for a more visual product; latte art. Overall, without a social media page where people an find menus, reviews, and promotions, people will often not even bother trying out that new shop. Great article!

  4. There are some businesses who still dont utitlize the power of social media. Eventhough they have their own Facebook page they dont give time to update and use it to their advantage. Each social media platforms has its own specific ability. It doesnt mean that you have more likes on FB you would only focus on Facebook alone. Pinterest is best for infographics, Twitter is best for real-time engagement and getting information. While Facebook is best for information update and marketing and Instagram is for promotions. Use each and every platform wisely.

  5. Social media marketing is a powerful way for businesses to reach their customers and increase their outcome.
    I think that any business without social media presence is leaving much money on the table!
    Interesting and To The Point article!

  6. There’s no doubt that Social media marketing is essential for any business. social media is a great way for businesses to reach out to their potential customers. other forms of marketing, such as appearing on a television advert can be extremely expensive – therefore showing social media is a cost-effective way to reach potential clients.

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