What I’ve learnt about Social Media from 6 months of interviewing female business owners

What I’ve learnt about Social Media from 6 months of interviewing female business owners

Social media is a huge topic, and one that’s come up naturally in almost every conversation I’ve had in the last 2 seasons of the Bump to Business Owner podcast. It can feel impossible to escape, especially as a business owner looking to connect with customers and build a brand.

Social media has so many positives in terms of creating community and connection not only with your Tribe but valuable business contacts. But of course, all the pluses come with a side of negatives – comparison, pressure and unrealistic narratives of perfection.

It’s such a huge part of life, not just being a business owner, that social media I’m sure will be a common thread throughout our upcoming season 3 (stay tuned – we’re launching in February!) But here’s a rundown of what I’ve learnt from the past 6 months of interviews.

Online connections can turn into something bigger than you’d imagined

We turn to social media when we’re bored and lonely (just me?) Connection is one of our basic human needs, and it has been the driving force behind amazing creations of some of the guests we’ve had on the podcast so far.

Danielle Wallington was on mat leave, missing the routine and camaraderie of the office, when she turned to Instagram to talk about what she was feeling. Danielle found other people online that wanted to connect, which became a community of people with similar interests and similar desires and needs. Which led to Milk N Fizz, her first business: a networking community of local mums who wanted to go to events that were baby friendly, but not baby centric. Danielle has developed this into her current community-based project FLOCKHERE, an app to connect WFH women with places to work from and people to work with. This is an incredible service for a community which has been underserved and none of it would have been possible without Instagram.

Likewise, Susie Lodge founder of Wiki Places for Kids and Wiki Business created a community of women like her – mums and one woman bands that didn’t have daily team zoom calls to keep them accountable (and sane) during Covid. Susie missed the energy and life that female connection gave her, so she did something about it.

Don’t compare your reality to other people’s online presence

One of the worst things about social media is the “comparisonitis” it inspires. We all “know” that what we’re seeing online is a highlights reel, not reality, but it’s easy to forget as we see other business owners nailing 10k months, and mums posting photos of their seemingly incredibly well-behaved, neat and polite children.

As Laura Crawford, founder of Mama Bamboo said, “It can be quite vicious online and I think mums are just under so much pressure all the time to be perfect.”

Even if someone is being as authentic as possible, it’s impossible to see the full 24 hours of their day, and the ups and downs they’re moving through. “I think that’s where the unhelpful comparison can start, can’t it? Because you then start telling yourself a narrative of, I should be able to do more because I see these other women doing it. And then you think, how do they do it? But you’re asking yourself how they do it when that isn’t reality.” – Ruth Marsden, Founder of Better Company

How to find your social media groove

This is something I found tricky to navigate this year. Is this an overshare? Does anyone care, am I boring? The realities of our NICU journey which we’re very much still in. Sharing online can make you feel incredibly vulnerable, but as we all know, it’s authenticity that people connect with; and I want to be honest. But not too honest!

This is something that I spoke to Maria Bettis of Slow Style Mindset about. Your audience is there for your expertise, but they are also there because they buy into you as a person. And if you’re honest with them about missed deadlines, mistakes etc, they will resonate with you as a fallible human being, business owner and a mum juggling it all and will understand.

How to balance speaking as a brand and as an individual

Tricky isn’t it? Again, this is something that I’ve had to navigate myself this year, being both a fledgling podcast brand, a Virtual Assistant agency and a person.

Ruth Marsden went from being an influencer to a CEO and said, “probably the thing I struggle with the most for the Better Company is how to speak as a brand, not just as a person. I’m speaking on behalf of a brand and I’m speaking on behalf of even a brand that isn’t in existence now, of where I want it to be, but the idea of where the brand will be in the future. And putting across that message of who the Better Company is. The Better Company isn’t just Ruth. And I very much, right from the beginning, didn’t want it to be me. I don’t want it to be my face on Instagram, I don’t want it to be me talking on stories. I want it to be a brand. It’s completely me, but separate from me, which has then been quite hard to navigate.”

Speaking from experience, it helps to have different accounts for different things, and I think Ruth is piloting both really well. It’s a learning process. If you have any tips for me, get in touch.

And don’t worry! Even Kat Fellows, ex UK Marketing Manager for Fenty Beauty finds it a challenge. “I will say the one thing that is the most challenging, of course, is the whole social media side of things…I think the most intimidating part is that social media piece because it really can be all consuming”

Social media can change your life and your business for the better

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the challenges and negatives, but there are some spectacular positives that have come about from social media for some of my guests.

Natalie and Alison from March Muses told a story about gatekeeping in Episode 1 of Season 2. For whatever reason, no big stores would pick up their beautiful inclusive Christmas decorations, even though their customers were asking for it. Natalie posted a rant on their Instagram, and the post was shared, and shared and shared. Until the buyer for Selfridges saw it, and got in touch. Selfridges became their first big name stockist, and March Muses outsold all the other decorations in Selfridges’ Christmas shop.

Lucy Legal found inspiration to change her life on social media. Coming from the very traditional legal industry, she watched other business owners and entrepreneurs on Instagram having fantastic adventures and wanted a freer life for herself.

And so she did! Obviously that’s a huge oversimplification, and there was a huge amount of work involved, but “if you can’t see it, you can’t be it” is true. Inspiration and aspiration is what Instagram is all about, so why not use it as a motivation to create a life and business more in line with who you are and what you want.

I’m still very much working out my own relationship with social media, and how comfortable I feel sharing on various platforms. But I’d love to hear how you navigate your online presence, how you balance business and the personal and any tips you want to share with the wider community. Get in touch to let me know.

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