When Betsy Aimee Cardenas decided to launch a new small business, she knew exactly where to seek answers for her questions. It was the same place where she could commiserate with other Hispanic small business owners about the particular challenges of entrepreneurship that affected them. And it was the same place where she would eventually promote Born in June Creative Studio, the digital marketing agency she co-founded with her husband, Jaime Joshua Sandoval.
The name of the place? Social media.
"As a first-generation American," Cardenas says, and someone who doesn't come from a family of entrepreneurs, it was hard to find resources on things like how to set up an LLC, state permits, or how to file taxes appropriately. The internet is full of inspirational quotes about being self-employed," she adds, "but there is a lack of knowledge and resources about the day-to-day tasks of having your own business, such as tracking invoices and expenses." By connecting with other Hispanic business owners via Facebook and other social media platforms, Cardenas was able to learn from their mistakes and to pick up some of their tips and tricks, saving her time and a considerable amount of money.
In fact, the contacts Cardenas made via social media are what really convinced her and her husband they could launch their own business. "Social media helped us connect with a lot of other creatives in the field who allowed us to even think that it was possible for us to consider building something new in our 30's and while having a family," Cardenas says. The ever-burgeoning number of social media platforms have been instrumental to Born in June's success. Instagram, for example, has proven to be a significant lead generation source for the design studio, since that platform's emphasis on the visual "lends itself to showcase what we do."
Cardenas says it's important for fellow Hispanic small business owners to remember that there's not a single, uniform way to use social media. The platforms you use and your strategy for each should depend, she says, on how you define your key audience. Determining the demographic that the business wants to reach will help a Hispanic small business owner understand which platform will be most useful to reach that audience.
Feeling uncertain about how to navigate the pros and cons of the social media landscape as a Hispanic small business owner? Cardenas shares her clutch tips:
1. Aim for a quality presence over quantity
"It's better to have a well thought out and executed strategy on one platform than to try to spread yourself too thin across every platform," Cardenas says. This is especially true for busy small business owners who are responsible for multiple aspects of their operations. There are numerous social media channels and everyone has an opinion about which ones you "should" be on, but Cardenas recommends that you focus on the needs, goals and offerings of your business, and make decisions about where to anchor your social presence accordingly.
2. Develop specific goals for your social media channels
Don't join social media just because it's something you think you're supposed to do. In order for social media to pay off, you have to have specific goals in mind. "Is it brand awareness, or are you interested in having social media generate direct sales?" Cardenas asks. "The answers to these questions should inform how much you invest and what you do."
3. Don't forget customer review sites
"People usually think of Facebook and Instagram," Cardenas says, "but Yelp and other customer review sites are also places where a small business owner should spend some time making sure their presence is in good shape." Once again, it's okay if you don't have the bandwidth or interest in maintaining a presence on every review site, but choose the ones that are most relevant to your industry and business.
4. Set aside some budget for social
Social media has leveled the playing field for small business owners, making it possible for them to reach large prospective customer bases without traditional ad investment, but Cardenas says it's a misconception that social media investment should be an input of time only. "I think every small business owner should invest in Facebook ads for Instagram and Facebook," she says. "The interface is quite user-friendly, and it's a good way to test out ideas for new products or offers."
5. Don't forget the "social" in social media
"The 'social' part of social media is important," says Cardenas. Social media platforms are "a great way for small business owners to establish two-way communication with your audience or potential buyers." Cardenas suggests that small business owners take a proactive role in engaging with their followers. "Ask them for feedback, respond to their comments quickly and with efficiency. If this is the first place people are interacting with your brand, make sure they have a positive interaction."