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Since opening his Lafayette hamburger restaurant in 2014, Shawn Broaddus has moved across town and expanded his menu, but his presence on social media has never wavered.
“I always knew it was something that had to be part of the business,” he said. “To not be on social media these days, especially as a customer service-based business, just doesn’t make sense.”
Through ongoing experimentation that’s yielded quirky videos, mouthwatering photos and an engaged fan base of nearly 10,700 followers, Broaddus Burgers has become as synonymous with its 30-year-old owner’s wide, toothy smile and signature backward baseball cap as its out-of-the-box menu creations.
His success has come via organic posts, content that appears in the same way someone might post about their cat or a new job.
“I do my best to make it not feel like work,” he said, “which I think is one of the keys to social media — just having fun and putting out content that you would want to see.”
Broaddus’ success is similar to others out there. As social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram become more integrated into people’s daily lives, it’s an easy way for businesses to find an audience in order to be a successful venture.
“Almost everybody needs to be on Facebook,” said Laurel Hess, president of Rally Marketing. “It’s almost like you don’t exist if you’re not there, at least, and you can pick your niche from there. It’s trial and error until you figure out, ‘OK, people are responding to this,’ and then you run with it from there.”
It’s that connection
It takes about a minute for local businesses to find their place and voice on social media. Owners can branch out to other platforms — LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat — depending on a client base.
That allows customers to connect with a business.
“Everybody crowdsources before they make an actual purchase decision,” she said. “A lot of consumers are looking to that social media presence to see, ‘What are my friends doing? Is this company reputable? What’s everyone saying about them?’ It’s how they get to know you, more than your website.”
As president of a marketing firm, social media is something Hess deals with daily. She also helps coordinate Social Media Lafayette along with her husband, Rodney, the firm’s vice president.
Social Media Day Lafayette held its third annual event in June with about 400 registrants and 250 to 300 participants on the day of the free event.
Sessions included titles like “From Storytelling to Social Selling: Using Who You Are to Sell What You Do” and “Small Business, Big Presence,” all aimed at helping small-business owners understand social media strategies.
Hess said although social media is an accessible form of marketing for local businesses — every aspect can be done in-house — it can be difficult to keep up with changes in customer behavior and changes to the social media platforms.
“It changes so fast,” Hess said, “that the things we were doing a year ago don’t work anymore because the algorithms have changed or the way consumers take in social media and marketing have changed. So staying on top of it is why we do Social Media Day every year. We try to make it more accessible for small-business owners to take part in.”
Broaddus has learned to notice what’s working on social media and focus on methods that yield the best return.
Posting a photo of a menu item on Facebook might fall flat, but posting the same image on Instagram can bring in hundreds of likes and a surge in interest. That presence has allowed him to sell as many of an item in two days as he did the previous two months.
That’s how he began producing Facebook videos. And it helped to nudge him out of his comfort zone.
“Just by knowing video was such a big thing, I had to find a way to make video content,” he said. “I was very self-conscious of seeing myself on film, so being goofy and acting as if I was a character made that easier for me and made me comfortable enough in front of the camera.”
The result — videos on everything from the struggles of changing locations to new menu promotions — has paid off beyond “likes” and followers.
“The first step is just having a presence and being consistent with it,” she said. “But you have to really carve out your space because there’s so much noise on social media. It’s really important to pay attention to what’s resonating with your audience.”
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