Promoting your business, your activities or yourself through social media is harder than you think. Where do you keep getting the inspiration to post regularly? And how do you create posts that do well? At Willow you already have a scheduling tool and coaching to help with that. Recently, the successful company also added a knowledge section: Willow Academy. Extra good news: all Willow Academy blogs and e-books about social media are available online for free.
Willow supports entrepreneurs with affordable social media services. In addition to its smart social media tool and coaching services, Willow Academy now opens the doors to a wealth of knowledge on social media. Everything is based on the in-house expertise Willow has built up over the years. The new information hub is accessible to everyone.
No time for social media
"Entrepreneurs usually have little time and knowledge for social media themselves," explains Esther Van den Eynde, creative marketing specialist at Willow. "This is especially true for service-oriented entrepreneurs such as accountants, real estate agents or lawyers. We notice that many clients struggle with certain aspects of social media. This makes them hesitant to start using it, but even those who do take the plunge often find that posting information fades into the background after a while. That's why we are now combining Willow's knowledge online."
Entrepreneurs usually have little time and knowledge for social media themselves.
Practical knowledge for every level
For example, through Willow Academy you can find a very practically oriented e-book on 'Social Media Fundamentals'. In 10 chapters you get a solid basic course on social media: how to determine your social media strategy, how to grow your audience, how to design templates for images and videos, how to get your employees to share, and what do you need to know about Analytics, LinkedIn Ads, Google My Business and SEO? In short, it’s a must-read for anyone who is professionally active online.
Virginie Dardenne, social media expert at Willow: "Another e-book is about '6 Pillars to Social Media Success'. A complete 70 pages with a six-step plan to be successful on social media: Consistency, Value, Content mix, Engage, Personality, and Organic versus Paid content.”
Willow had previously compiled e-books on social media fundamentals and social media success. Specifically for the launch of Willow Academy, a third e-book was added: the Personal Branding Playbook. It also provides answers to many pressing questions. Why is Personal Branding important? Why can it really add value to your business? What are good examples of personal brands?
100 blogposts about social media
And there is more, much more: over 100 blog posts about social media with specific information for each reader - from SMEs and entrepreneurs to HR professionals and consultants. "In total, there are around 12 hours of reading material: 5 hours of e-books and 7 hours of blogs - and counting," says Esther Van den Eynde. "There is something for everyone, from beginner to experienced social media user. Everything is written by ourselves from our own expertise. The project is completely developed remotely and monitored by the Willow Academy project team: Virginie, myself and Bert Beauprez, our Product Manager & Designer who works from Norway, where he lives. At Willow, flexible and remote working has been a conscious strategy from the start. At the same time, this flexibility is one of the strengths of our customer service.”
Plan, post and follow up on social media posts
Willow's customers can choose to use only the tool. With that, they can plan their posts and get inspiration and ready-made articles to share based on their interests. Moreover, they have clear statistics on the reach of their posts, such as the number of likes, comments and shares. The Willow tool is still constantly evolving, partly based on user feedback.
Coaching by social media experts
"The coaching clients take an extra service: they get a personal session with one of the Willow social media experts every month," explains Virginie Dardenne. "Also, via email or live chat, they can always contact us with their questions. We always take into account what they need at each stage.”
When writing the text for Willow Academy, the practical experience of the coaching sessions certainly comes in handy. Virginie Dardenne: "My colleagues Mirelle, Jessica, Laura and myself are in contact with various Willow clients every month. Together we look at how they can get the most out of social media. We have incorporated the questions and our advice in Willow Academy. In this way we go deeper into the obstacles that our customers experience and that are also recognizable for many others.”
According to the experts at Willow, there is still a lot to learn. "The biggest problem is that entrepreneurs don't know what they can post," says Esther Van den Eynde. "Many customers, for example, don't want to put personal things on LinkedIn. Nevertheless, a personal touch - also on LinkedIn - is important, among other things to attract new employees.”
Many customers, for example, don't want to put personal things on LinkedIn. Nevertheless, a personal touch - also on LinkedIn - is important, among other things to attract new employees.
"If you have a job opening, you need to give candidates the feeling that they already know your company a bit online and would like to join your team based on that. Social media is therefore crucial for employer branding. This is one of the possible objectives of a social media strategy. Generating leads or creating more brand awareness are also possible goals. The first step in a social media strategy is therefore to determine what you want to achieve.”
Buzz and visibility
Although not all goals are achievable, and Willow is clear about that too. "For us, it's not about paid campaigns but about the organic reach of social media. You don't get a mountain of new leads directly from that," Virginie Dardenne explains. "You always have to look at it in the longer term anyway and possibly combine the two. Through organic social media you can in any case create extra 'buzz' and visibility, even if it is not immediately measurable. Good advice: don't stare blindly at the likes!”
Good advice: don't stare blindly at the likes!
Patience is a virtue, even with fast social media. It easily takes six months before you have a decent number of followers. Fortunately, it doesn't have to happen all at once. "The ideal scenario is several posts a week but if that scares off starting customers, we recommend starting slowly: that's always better than nothing. Because if you don't have a social media presence at all, that's definitely a weakness. Potential employees or customers will always look you up online and if they don't find anything, it gives a bad impression.”
Quality over quantity
Just 'posting for the sake of posting' is also best avoided. "It is better to put good content online three times a month than to post nothing at all or to make posts without content very often," reads Esther Van den Eynde's tip. "Quality is more important than quantity. So just start so you can learn along the way. If you do it right, you will learn a lot about your customers. So try to interact as often as possible: social media is a two-way street.”
So how do you do it, and how do you create a post that catches eyes? Virginie Dardenne : "Many entrepreneurs have the tendency to 'post for themselves' without thinking about their target audience. During our coaching sessions, we also look at who the target audience is for each client. You always have to take that into account - even in personal branding, you don't just post what you like yourself.”
"The challenge is to find the 'sweet spot' where your own passions coincide with the things your target audience cares about. That's the basis for success on social media, along with getting enough interaction, promoting your expertise and posting varied and original, 'thumb-stopping' content.”
Are you starting out with social media or want to deepen your knowledge?