Many people talk about all the different forms of social media, in regards to business, but do you know which social media is best for you? Social media has really grown in how it brings in information to us all, and many businesses have taken advantage of that, but does it mean it is the right way for you to go? And does it have to be all or nothing?
For teachers, performers, musicians and others making a business within the dance field, finding the right social media and online presence can be key to growing your business. This discussion is about finding customers for online and in person classes/events, and helping your customers find you.
Did you know that 97% of people Google search for local businesses? That means the chances are high if your potential customer is looking for a dance teacher, performer or dance clothing, they are going to start with Google or other search engine. This means the first thing you need to do is search for your business. Does your business or classes come up in the top of the search? How far down the list is your business? Do searches for both your business name and your business type and your location. For example “belly dance London”. If you are well down these searches, there are ways to improve your SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and I will go into a few of them now.
First, have you claimed your Google Business listing? Google Business listings are those listings you see when you search for local businesses, that share the hours, website and other information for businesses near you. These are a free listing, you just go through the steps to claim the listing and fill it out with your information. It should all take under 20 minutes to fill out completely. All of this information will help increase your view ability to customers, it also makes your business look more professional. Think of these as a listing in the old Yellow Pages. A Basic one line business listing in the Yellow Pages, is a good start, but we are often more, people are drawn to those listings that are bigger, offer more information, and look fresh and up to date.
When claiming your Google Business listing, you might find some information difficult to fill out, but do what you can, the studio you use would be your current address, an email is key if you don’t have a business phone, your business hours are the hours you host your in person lessons, to get you started. Use a mix of current photos to help grab attention and to make customers see you faster, as photos are added to the main listing. Make sure the first image you use is clear, engaging and on brand to what you offer. Invite long time students/customers to provide honest reviews, which will build new customers interest in you and what you offer. To keep a professional look to your listing, update any time your location, dates or time change and try to encourage any new students to post reviews, keeping your oldest review less then a year old. This might be the first time a customer has ever heard of you, so give them a professional impression, right from the start.
The next step is your website. 97% of the people who do online searches to find a business then visit that companies online presence, the most preferred is a businesses website. Your website should communicate what you offer and be up to date. Your menu choices should be clear, easily direct your customers to your offerings, showcase what makes you unique, and have all the information a customer should require in the least clicks possible. Always keep your events pages for classes, shows and workshops up to date. If a potential customer sees very old information still on your website, they might think you are no longer in business. Since websites can be more work to update regularly, my suggestion is to keep the information that needs regular updating on your linked social media. Lastly make contacting you easy, and make linked social media very easy to find and communicate to your customers that you are active on the sites you list.
While you might not want to build every extra social media site for your business, I will say a website, Google Business listing and YouTube would be what I would suggest for everyone to get started. These 3 options require the least upkeep, and get you in the best position to be seen by your potential customers. I will get into YouTube next, but in regards to your website and Google business listing, you should make sure you are doing updates about 1-2 times a year at the least. Just to make sure your page is working, fresh and has current information.
YouTube for most businesses will not drive your business forward in regards to reaching out to customers alone, but when used with online searches and your website, it can increase your chances of getting hired. Since not all websites offer video hosting and websites can be more difficult to update, YouTube is a fantastic way to share what you do. You can easily link your YouTube to your website and update as you have videos to share, easily even from your phone. You can offer some sample instructional videos or past performances, the idea is to share what makes you special. Video is really the best way to showcase what we all do, so make sure people can see what you offer, even one or two videos can make all the difference in you getting your business moving. YouTube videos also have a long lifespan, customers will respond best to videos that are under 2 years old, so you can keep it fresh, but YouTube is great as it doesn’t need as much attention as some other social media, if you don’t plan on making it the main focus of your business.
If you find you are low in the results when you search your area, Facebook can help your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) improve. Search engines like Google, increase with more connected pages, but Google really likes public Facebook pages. Customers like them too, they can see the business is still trading, the most current information and can get a bit of insight and background on the business. A Facebook page is easy to start, and is excellent for it’s ease at keeping customers up to date. This is where you can easily post up events, share information and chat with your customers. How much you use your Facebook page is up to you, as is how personal you want to get, but it is a very flexible place to use for multiple needs. One example, is if your current class is at the leisure center every Tuesday, but they are closed to have work done or worse have to have emergency work done on short notice, you can communicate with a larger number of students as well as any potential new students in a very simple way by updating your Facebook, vs. trying to add a notice to your website. If you want to use your Facebook as mostly a extension of your website and business you should at the minimum post once a month. You can use your Facebook to build a larger online following as well, with engaging posts and a mix of video and photos. If you really want to build further you can look into focused groups as well, these can be great for communicating with your current students directly, and for sharing more about your classes as well. But keep in mind to only start as much as you think you can juggle. It is better to only have one page you feel you can reasonably manage then multiple pages/groups, that get to unwieldy and make you want to neglect them all.
Instagram is a visual social media. Where Facebook is about good communication, and engaging with words, Instagram is all about how something looks. This is why the algorithms that drive Instagram weigh video more heavily then images, and beautiful dance images bring in more likes then a motivational typed image. If a webpage and a Google Listing are the first place a customer comes to find you, Instagram is the first place where your peers find you. Yes, some people have built businesses for themselves from Instagram, but the reality is not many of your customers will find you from Instagram, but it does not mean that Instagram does not have any worth. The key to using Instagram smartly is to aim it towards networking. If you build your business page wisely, you can reach out and be social with your peers, local similarly minded businesses and others that can help you create a network that can build up referrals, entertainment requests and workshop opportunities. For example, I recently saw a post where some one was looking for a performer and found I had been recommend after chatting with a dancer near to me, on Instagram. This type of networking can help you build your name if used wisely. Your images should be interesting and on your brand, keep your business and personal pages separate, use clear in focus images, and always format your images to fit the screen.
To use your Instagram wisely, regularly investigate your insights, review your “likes and comments” to see what is connecting with your audience, see who is returning to “like” your content, and weigh if you are reaching your target market. If not make changes in your content or go out and find those people you do want to engage with. Instagram does require you to do your part, you need to be social to make it work, just like you can’t network and be social stood in the corner at a party, Instagram requires you to make the move to be social as well. If you do not feel in the place to network, then you don’t need an Instagram account, it is not for everyone, don’t take on anything that doesn’t interest you. It can be a fantastic tool, for building a strong business network if that is your goal.
Twitter, Linked In and others can also be used to increase your reach and some people might want to give each of those a try, Twitter requires some wittiness and is driven 100% by words, but be careful as you need to remember you are a brand you don’t want to damage all your hard work, LinkedIn is one I have been hearing more about, but I admit I have not used, I know it uses networking as well, but without the visual aspect of Instagram, but can be good for connecting more to those directly in your field.
Lastly of course if you want to get your dance out there, you can use Twitch, or TikTok. Some dancers are using these platforms to reach their regular dance audiences and beyond, setting up tip links and paid events. Some dancers have gone viral, but remember popularity does not always mean a increase on your business and money coming in. So these are more about your own personal model and what works best for you.
The biggest key is to decide what your goals are, start with clearly defining, your plans, is your focus local/semi-local or more international? Is your focus to get back to teaching face to face classes in your local area, or to focus on traveling to teach workshops? Are you selling your dancing/clothing/music and your online offers online, with a focus to a larger audience? Then clearly define your time and how much interest you have in building any type of social media. Really be honest with your self as there are no wrong answers you just need to make sure you are putting your time in, to get the very most for your business in the smartest way possible.
The end take away is no one has to make social media a second job if it is not what you want to do. Decide what you want to do, and make that the best you can. Follow your own goals and with what ever you do, keep true to yourself, always show showcase what makes you special. And don’t forget to take social media breaks as need. I really hope this helps and gives you something to think about if you have any questions please just ask!