How to “Show Up” on Social Media… the Right Way

Let me preface this with, there’s not one right way to show up on social media. Every business is different. However, there are a few things to consider when “showing up” that could help grow your following and better nurture followers into customers. There are also some things you could be doing that are seriously stunting your growth. As you read through these, look at each of these as an opportunity. The good news is, all of these are easy fixes.

Disclaimer… I don’t always follow popular opinion on this topic, so it’s okay to disagree. If it’s working for you and your business is growing at a rate you’re comfortable with, then keep on doing you, my friend.

What does it mean to “show up”?

We hear it all the time, especially on Instagram. “Show up.” But what does it really mean? Simply put, it means posting more pictures and videos of the person (you) behind the business. It’s when you put a face to your brand or show the person behind the account. Showing up allows your followers to better connect with you. It expedites the know, like, trust factor and it helps you build a stronger community quicker.

The popular opinion I disagree with...

I’ve heard several marketing influencers preach the importance of showing up. They tell you to look at your insights and you’ll notice that when you post an image of yourself, it gets more engagement. So don’t be afraid to show up and show up often. While I get where this advice is coming from, I think it can be super misleading. Here’s why…

When you start a new social media account for your business, who are the people that are your first followers? Friends and family right? Of course those people are going to like your face. They are the same people that are following your personal account, liking all of those pictures. Your friends and family relate to the personal images, because they already know, like, and trust you. But chances are, they’re not your ideal customers. Friends and family make the best cheerleaders and supporters, but at the end of the day, they aren’t the ones buying from you and keeping you in business.

The new person that started following you after they related to something you posted about your business, when they see a ton of personal posts, they may start wondering why they started following you in the first place. This is one of the number one reasons why people unfollow business accounts.

“But Erika, I’ve heard you tell us to show up before…”

Yes. I think you should “show up”, but I don’t think showing up looks the same for every business. There are several ways you can show up and I think you need to find the one that best fits your business and the people you’re trying to attract.

Showing up as product-based business


Retailers, you are the ones that seem to get this wrong the most. If you sell a product, showing up does not mean posting selfies of yourself or your baby to you Feed. Before you get mad at me, hear me out. Why do people follow you? Because they see what you’re selling and like it. They follow you so they can continue to see your latest inventory and grab it before it sells out. THESE are the ideal followers for you because they WANT to be your customers.

Retailers, your “showing up” is going to look completely different than someone in a service-based business. Showing up for you means talking about new inventory on Stories (boutiques-those try-on videos are GOLD). An occasional post introducing yourself as the owner is okay, but be sure to relate it back to the customer. Posting pictures of your models wearing your clothes or interacting with your product is considered showing up when you’re a retailer. Those images give your Feed life and [should] accurately portray your brand and personality.

When someone looks at your Feed, they should instantly know what you sell and what you’re about. Your Feed is prime real estate and should be saved for your best stuff, or the stuff that your followers are following for. The exception to this would be if you’re involved in the community, partner with another brand, or have some kind of announcement that relates to you or a staff member. If those are things that your followers would enjoy consuming, the occasional post is okay.

If you’re reading this and thinking, “But my customers love my selfies and when I post things about my day-to-day…”, you need to be honest with yourself. Who are the people engaging with those images? Are they already loyal customers? Are they your cousins? Chances are, you’ve already gained their trust and they like you. Meanwhile, you could be scaring off potential NEW customers. Those loyal customers double-tapping your selfies will still be around if you start getting strict about the things you post.

Stories provide you a lot more flexibility when you’re a retailer. If you just have to post personal stuff, save it for Stories. My advice is to sandwich it between other Stories related to your products though.

Showing up as a service-based business

(Consultants, real estate agents, designers, business professionals, anyone selling a personal brand, etc..)

For those of you selling a service, you become the product. Before a person decides they want to work with you one-on-one, they will need to be convinced that they know, like, and trust you. How do they get to that point? By following you and seeing what it would be like to work with you. Now, you don’t have full reigns here. It’s still so important to make sure everything you post in on-brand. Meaning, you don’t want to air out your dirty laundry or post family pictures every day.

While I still don’t recommend posting selfie after selfie, I do think it’s important to regularly show your face. Even if it’s once every few rows. People connect with people. This can be an image of you working at your desk, drinking a coffee, working with a client, a networking event, enjoying something local in the community, the list goes on. You have a lot of opportunity here.

As a service-provider, your personal life tends to be your behind-the-scenes. Let’s just avoid “woke up like this” pictures of you in your pajamas on your Feed, if you want to be taken as a professional. Remember, your Feed is often your first impression. I’m probably not going to hire the CPA that posts a ton of pictures of herself in Hello Kitty pajamas or hire the real estate agent that’s always partying.

You can be a little less curated when posting to Stories. Because content posted to Stories expires in 24 hours, it’s okay to post personal stuff here a little more frequently. Again, I’m talking your personal life wrapped up in a pretty little bow. Avoid anything that could discredit you as a professional and expert in your field. Also, keep in mind that you need to regularly remind people why it is they are following you. So make sure you balance out personal posts with posts of value to the follower.

It’s good practice to use your captions as a place to relate your personal stuff back to your business. For example, say you really want to post your latest family picture to your Feed. Use your caption as a way to bring your service back in. Maybe your family is what inspires you to work hard or maybe being a proud mom defines you. These types of images when used sparingly, allow you to be a little more vulnerable with your audience. Vulnerability (when it doesn’t make others uncomfortable) is what helps you gain trust with people. And again, trust is what helps turns a follower into a customer.

It’s not always black and white.

(Artists, I’m looking at you.)

You are a personal brand that sells a product. You’re a combination of the two scenarios I explained above. When people buy art, of course they are looking at the product. If they don’t see your product in your feed, they don’t have an opportunity to discover and like it. However, people also buy art because they are influenced by the story behind it. That’s where you and your personal brand/story comes in. As an Artist, your story can add value to the art you’re selling.

For those of you that dread the thought of your face on your Feed, you can add personality and story your images without posting your face. Including just your hands in a picture will give your feed life. Posting images of what inspires you will help you share your story. A messy workspace with a piece in progress is a great peak behind the scenes. You have a lot more flexibility than traditional product-based and service-based businesses.

Remember to keep your Feed on-brand. Think of your Feed like your personal art gallery. Every single thing you post there should be related to your art. If you want to post a picture of your latte, that’s great but make it artistic and try to add your own style to the image with personal accessories and such. If you have something to share but it doesn’t fit the aesthetics of your Feed, go to Stories. Stories are a great place to show your fans what a day-in-the-life-of an artist looks like.

It’s not too late to change course.

The last thing I want is for this article to discourage you. If you’ve been showing up, I’m proud of you. I’m happy that you have the confidence to do it. But know that it’s not to late to start practicing some of these tips. It’s all about balance.

My advice to those of you that have anxiety about this showing up thing, is to start small. Start with a post to Stories every now and then. Maybe it’s just your voice at first. Event the smallest step is a step forward. I promise, you’ll get more comfortable the more you do it.

Let me know your thoughts!

I LOVE hearing from you and seeing you put things into practice. If you find success with any of my advice, let me know. Send me a DM, email me, or you can even secretly tag/mention me in a Story of you showing up. (If you want to know how to secretly mention me, I show you how to camouflage text in you Stories in my IG Tips highlight on Instagram. You can check that out here.)

Erika Conleay Digital Marketing Consultant

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