I’ve been at this copywriting game for several months and am starting to get a little frustrated. My niche market is the hunting and firearms retail industry. When I talk with owners about using social media for their business I get a knowing “uh huh”. But I still don’t think they get the importance of inbound marketing, which social media is, in the new normal firearms business. You have to be where your customers are, and increasingly that’s where consumers go to get information leading to a buying decision.
I owned a retail firearms business for eight years and used social media (Facebook, Twitter). I also published a monthly newsletter. Yea I made some mistakes along the way for sure and learned from them. I saw it’s effectiveness in engaging customers and kept at it. So how does a small business get 5,600 Facebook likes and 2,400 Twitter Followers? Here are some things I have learned in my journey both as a retailer and now in my copywriting business.
- KEEP POSTING – If you are not posting something relevant every day you will be ignored. People will forget about you. And if you don’t post, it won’t get shared or retweeted. That’s how you expand your base. Yeah, it’s work. As my Dad said, “If you are doing it, do it right.” But it’s not just about posting, it’s about posting relevant content. There’s that word relevant again. Which leads me to point two.
- DON’T JUST SELL YOUR BUSINESS – This one really frustrates me. Yep, people know you are a business page. But too many companies use social media to only sell their product or service. And it’s not just local businesses that make this mistake. I follow a high quality shotgun manufacturer on Facebook and all they post are pictures of their guns and the owners shooting them. I sold their guns and they don’t have much name recognition. Hmmmmm. wonder why? If this is all you do, soon people will ignore you because you are in a rut & predictable. Which leads to the next point.
- OFFER VARIETY – To engage people you must have VARIETY. Look for relevant business articles or videos and share them. Lead off with a comment. An article on overcoming wingshooting mistakes? Comment on how many you are guilty of and ask people which one they do the most! An instructional video about handgun concealed carry methods? Share it with a comment and oh by the way mention we provide concealed carry instruction. Don’t go off the edge though. Know your followers/customers and chose posts that you think they will find interesting. Our primary retail market was shotguns shooting sports. Our monthly newsletter only had 1- 2 items about what we had at the store. The other 4- 6 included shooting tips, conservation news, local events. We also had a > 50% open rate which is pretty good.
- USE IMAGES & VIDEO – Yes the message is important. But to get them to read the message you first have to get their attention. For written word photos do that. Video is becoming more important to relaying a message. If you go the video route keep it short, 3-5 minutes. A short two minute video we did in-house about a Turkey Pattern pack (long story) got nearly 500 views and had the highest click rate on our e-newsletter. We also made up an initial run of 20 pattern packs, sold out, and had to restock.
- IF IT WORKS IT’S NOT STUPID – All that said, don’t be afraid to experiment. I like humor so one Friday we posted a joke on our Facebook page. Boom! Over 700 viewed it, liked it, and some even commented. So we did it again and again until Friday humor became part of our page. In fact, we forgot to do it one week and several people messaged asking where it was! Were we selling a product? No. Was it always relevant to guns? No. But people enjoyed it, it increased our interaction with customers, so we used it.
So there you have my thoughts. I didn’t attend any classes. I did some online research and then got my boots dirty. The firearms industry typically lags behind others in change and innovation. Let’s face it, we are conservative and don’t like change. But adapting to a changing market is required and part of that change means going to where your customers are . . .and they ARE on social media. Get started because “you can’t steal 2nd base with your foot still on 1st.”