If you’re ready to turn your passion into a business, or your hobby into an extra stream of income, you probably want to know the best way to market yourself so you can start bringing in customers. Social media is the first place you should be going. Get your Instagram profile set up, and your Facebook page running because these are going to be instrumental to growing your brand.
Regular posting to social media is important. But if you think that is all you can do with it to start earning extra money, you’d be mistaken. Whether it’s homemade skincare, online fitness classes, financial advice or any other passion you’re harbouring, keep reading to learn how to maximise social media to grow your side hustle.
Facebook & Instagram Ads
If you’ve started marketing your side hustle on Instagram and Facebook (which you should have), you shouldn’t be sleeping on ads. And by that I mean, don’t underestimate them.
Your first thought might be that ads won’t be within your budget. But they are in fact, extremely cost-effective. Micro budgets are a popular way to get started with Facebook ads. We’re talking £20 budgets that get your ad seen by thousands of people.
Facebook remains the biggest social network, with over 2.7 billion monthly active users. So no matter who your product or service is targeting, odds are you can find them on Facebook.
The really exciting feature of Facebook ads is the ability to target a highly specific audience who match your exact target audience.
In addition to demographic targeting like gender, age and location, you can target by interest. If your product is aimed at new mums, then you should target parents of children aged 0-12 months. If it’s online pole fitness classes you’re offering, target those with an interest in pole dance and fitness.
We are a varied bunch at Shareable with many an interest between us. But one of our Director’s, Amber, is a perfect example of how targeted ads on Facebook helped her grow her yoga business from a hobby to a fully-fledged and very successful side hustle. I’ll let her explain:
“My background in marketing has given me somewhat of a head start over my fellow qualifying yoga teachers as I recognised very early on the important role that social media marketing would play in promoting my classes. I promoted my classes in local Facebook groups as well as adding micro budgets to advertise my classes to local audiences. The key thing was being able to be very selective about my audience to make sure I was targeting exactly the right demographic. The result was that where fellow teachers were struggling to get above 5 students, I was regularly teaching classes of 20+ students. As my classes gained momentum, I didn’t need to advertise as much for individual classes. I instead promoted my page, website and one-off events.”
Clearly, Facebook ads are the place to be. And if you’re worried that you don’t have the experience or know-how to set them up, relax. Facebook’s smart campaigns are intuitively laid out so even someone with zero experience in ads can quickly set up a successful campaign.
Lastly, you may have realised I haven’t mentioned Instagram ads. That would be because Facebook owns Instagram, so if ensure to link up your accounts, you can choose to send your fresh, new Facebook ads to Instagram too.
Starting a Facebook group is a smart move if you want to grow your side hustle. If social media marketing is all about building a community, then creating an active and engaging group where like-minded individuals can network is a great way to go.
You can think of Facebook groups as an opt-in channel where you may just find your most loyal customers.
According to Facebook themselves, they prioritise content on the newsfeed from Groups that users frequently engage with. By consistently publishing to your group and putting time into building a community, you’re giving the algorithm exactly what it wants. And by doing that, you’re increasing the chances that you are the first thing a member see’s when they open Facebook.
As an example, I’m a member of an Astrology group. It’s a vibrant group, there are discussions every day, competitions and challenges. It’s not mandatory to post and often I just read what everyone else is saying. One day the admin of the group who is also a qualified Astrologer, posted a link to a webinar he was holding on the back of a relevant discussion. And I didn’t think twice about purchasing it.
The group shouldn’t be about making a hard sell in every post.
It shouldn’t even be about making a soft sell.
You’re creating a space for people to enjoy the sector you’re in, whether that’s Astrology, yoga, running, health, baking. The list goes on. By giving people this space, and by appearing regularly on their feeds, you become known and respected. If you do decide to drop in a product or service during a relevant discussion, people will be more likely to buy from you.
Here are some cornerstones of a Facebook group strategy that you can try putting in to practice:
Prioritise daily discussion
This is all about community. You want to get your members talking and you want the engagement to be high to increase the likelihood of your group posts appearing at the top of your member’s feeds.
Try creating a list of themes which your topics will centre around each week, or month. Maybe you want to have a consistent “Monday Motivation” thread. Perhaps you encourage members to share something they have achieved over the week every Friday. Or, maybe you get them talking about their favourite yoga pose and why.
It’s also important to initiate discussion at a time when your users are active, which we wrote all about here.
Show you’re listening
You don’t want to post and ghost in your group. Stay on top of your notifications and replies, particularly when there are discussions going on. If you’ve been tagged in a reply, don’t leave someone hanging!
But you don’t want to jump in at every opportunity. You created this space to bring people together, and it’s totally fine to take a step back when you’re not needed.
Avoid direct selling like the plague
This is so important. Nobody wants to be spammed by links and sales messaging. And you can expect a swift exit from group members if this is the approach you take.
This doesn’t mean you can’t mention your product, service or blog at all. But choose your moments wisely. Post on the back of a relevant discussion or time of year and make sure they are far enough apart to avoid people seeing you as ingenuine.
You may find individuals message you directly to enquire about your services, which is the ideal time to sell yourself.
Collaboration on Social Media
2020 was the year where collaborations really took off, but I think collaborations should and will be here to stay.
When you start viewing your competition as your community, you open up a world of possibilities. You can support each other, you can introduce each other to leads and importantly you can increase your own brand awareness.
Instagram live is the number one way to collaborate on social media. Using the ‘Go Live With A Friend’ feature, you can go live on your story with any other Instagram user. This will expose you to a completely new audience given that your collaborator’s followers will also be notified when you both go live.
Here’s a couple of ideas you might consider:
If there’s someone well known in your industry, reach out and invite them to do a Q&A or interview. It’s great networking for you, it’s engaging content for your followers and it exposes you to their followers as well.
Otherwise, consider collaborating with your followers by inviting them to join you live!
It’s a pretty simple idea but is very effective, especially now people have had a taste for online classes. Two people in a similar industry go live together to hold a class where they take it in turns to teach their speciality.
Let’s take a joint yoga and pilates class I joined on Instagram. The teachers had their own separate businesses in the health and wellness industry and knew of each other through social media. They teamed up to teach 20 minutes of yoga followed by 20 minutes of pilates. Doing this opened up their own followings to something new, providing them with value. Given that I followed the pilates teacher after the class, it worked from a marketing perspective as well.
This can work for so many industries. Brainstorm who you’d like to collaborate with and fire them over an introduction and a brief proposal.
Joint webinars or “How To” sessions
Collaborating with other influencers to deliver informative sessions on your area of expertise is an excellent brand awareness tool.
I’ve tuned in to many live discussions where well-known teachers or influencers are invited on to Instagram live to discuss topics that I’m interested in.
Not only are you providing users once more with value, but you will also gain credibility in your field whilst exposing yourself to a much broader audience.
“How To” sessions may be a good fit for you if you want to sell a product. You can walk an influencer or follower through your product, showing your audience just how simple it is.
It’s become extremely common for people to use social media as another way to judge whether they want to purchase a product. After reading online reviews, they’ll be heading over to Instagram to find other people using the product and what they are saying about it. Holding a live demonstration is a great way to target these individuals who are on the lookout for social proof.
A decade ago, the term influencer would have referred to celebrities. It now encompasses any social channel with a high number of followers.
The beauty of influencer marketing is the ability to reach very specific audiences. You don’t have to rely on having thousands of followers because influencers already have that. Building relationships with specific, suitable influencers means you have the opportunity to get your brand seen by all the right people.
At the most basic level, you might reach out to an influencer and offer your product or service for free or discounted in return for them sharing a post about your brand.
This worked for an independent vegan food business Shareable works with. When they were based in Southend we reached out to an ex-love islander who lived in the area. They sent her free food and in return, she put up a video post on her story.
Not only did the business get a big rush of followers, but messages from individuals wanting to know where they could find them also went through the roof. And that was all from posting a comment on her latest photo.
It’s not always this simple though.
Some will want payment which can vary depending on the size of their following. Those with up to 10k followers will want much less than someone with 1 million followers. Those with up to 10k followers will also be much easier to contact and are less likely to be with agencies., whilst also being more likely to accept products without payment.
Try creating a list of potential influencers whose audience matches your own target audience. If you’re offering a fitness product, look for fitness influencers to ensure you get the most value out of that person.
Decide on the size of following that would be good for you. If your side hustle is just getting off the ground, smaller influencers with followings of up to 5k will still be hugely valuable for you.
Social Media for Networking
Unless it’s LinkedIn, networking on social media is underrated.
When I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life at the ripe old age of 21, I started firing out messages to people I saw as successful asking for advice.
Fear of getting left on read deters us from reaching out to successful people. And that happens most of the time… but not always!
I connected with Jordan Belfort over Twitter (the real one, not Leonardo DiCaprio, sigh), and he gave me some short and sweet advice that gave me a boost of confidence at that time.
Another time, I reached out to a successful business person on Instagram and asked the same question. I received even more valuable advice about what industries are good to get into. I then bought courses in the industries he mentioned.
LinkedIn is made for networking, but people use it sparingly. That’s why you’ll see more success with Twitter and Instagram where people are online multiple times a day, and where it’s more appropriate to fire over a casual message.
One thing I’ve learnt from reaching out to people through social media is that more people want to see you win than you think. You can use this to your advantage when it comes to growing your side hustle. Be approachable and honest that you’re just breaking into the industry and love how they are marketing themselves, and do they have any advice.
Start brainstorming a list of people who you want to reach out to. Maybe it’s people doing exactly what you want to be doing. Maybe it’s people you respect and admire. Or maybe it’s someone who’s just famous and you think they’d give some decent guidance!
There really are very few boundaries with social media.
Send them a message, be authentic and genuine and clear in what you want to know. Consider if there’s anything of value you can offer in return and throw that into the mix!
A key thing with growing your side hustle is to just start. You can spend so long trying to perfect the details that you never get going. So set up your Facebook page, create your Instagram profile and start getting yourself out there.
Don’t blow through £200 ad budgets. Start small. Micro budgets of £20 on Facebook to promote yourself are an easy way to be seen, quick.
If a Facebook group will suit your side hustle, do it. A sustainable beauty group would be ideal for a sustainable skincare business. Or if you wanted to offer Astrology readings, setting up a beginners Astrology group is a great way to go. What will start as a space to enjoy a shared interest will quickly position you as a leader in your industry.
You’ll be surprised by the support you receive on social media, and how many people want to see you win. Even those who traditionally would be considered competition. Don’t shy away from using social networks for their namesake – networking! There’s always something we can learn from others. If you like how someone else is doing things, let them know. Tell them you’d love to collaborate.
There are many ways to grow your side hustle with social media, and I hope you see some success with these ideas.