How to use social media to build a platform

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How to use social media to build a platform

This piece was written by our Community Ambassador, Food publisher, writer and advocate Riaz Phillips. You can find out more about Riaz here. 

In the current COVID-19 pandemic more people are spending time on social media than ever. With more people than ever cooking food from scratch at home, all things food related have taken off.

With social media, disparate communities across the world are united. If you want to run a food related social enterprise or small business the power is there. Social media has been revolutionary for the everyday person. Some years back we were beholden to mainstream media to reach the world. Now we can do that with the press of a button. This has been fantastic for communities that experience marginalisation and are underrepresented. Additionally, it has been fantastic for helping them share their food culture. 

Those who didn’t have a voice, now have a voice. The hardest part for sure is knowing where to start. Too often, people have tunnel vision with one app or page which can be a bad thing.  This article details why it is best to spread out and use a variety of social media platforms, and why diversifying your feed can help you prosper..

Picking a social media to suit your style

The first reason to consider diversifying your social media is that not all types are for everyone. For someone who loves photography, word focussed Twitter may not be best. If your main focus is writing about food we discuss some great tactics in a Spark & Co. blog post. Alongside this, Twitter has been revolutionary for journalists and writers of all genres. If you just want to chit chat with people about your particular food community, this is probably the best place.

On the other hand, amazing food photography works best on the likes of Flickr and Instagram. Sumptuous pictures of flaky pastry, warming stews and towering cakes, will all do great here. For someone who loves long form video (i.e recipe videos), YouTube will be better than Instagram but you can use instagram and twitter to direct people to your video channel with just one click of the share button. 

If you aren’t a visual person at all and prefer audio, podcasting has exploded in the last few years. Maybe you can start a show about your food passion or community! If all this seems overwhelming and you don’t know which one you should pick, ask the people around you who know you well! They will have an understanding of your personality and can guide you in the right direction.

Don't go putting all your social media eggs in one basket

Putting all your eggs in one social media basket can end badly regardless of what theme of content you do. Building up your audience in a single channel isn’t great if something happens to that platform. Think about how huge MySpace was some years ago, and where it is now. Even Facebook and Snapchat have seen numbers dwindle. Additionally, something can happen to your particular account. You can get hacked or if you have controversial opinions your account can get reported or banned. 

This is bad as if that happens and you haven’t diversified, you’ll be starting from scratch with no way to quickly contact your audience. People will always love great content, so you won’t be sacrificing too much moving to a new platform.

Spreading out your social media with low stress

While it is fantastic to be a whiz at multiple social media channels of course time and other resource limitations can prevent this. You don’t have to be super focussed on different apps. The idea is that you at least have a presence on another app that you can use if something happens.

Definitely keep focussing most on the app that you feel is your best. There are even apps like If this Than that that can help you post on many apps at the same time with no added effort. This is great if you are also cooking, recipe testing, doing photos/videos and editing. You'll be exhausted after all that!

This way you can focus on one platform and use others to direct interest to that platform. If needed, you can also use your main social media to direct interest to your other platforms. Another idea is to always put a mailing list in the bio section of your social media as newsletters are still very effective.

Use the available resources for getting started on social media

After finding your style and deciding on your key platform, you can get to work. A lot of social media and content mainly needs a smartphone for successful campaigns. You can also do your podcast off a smartphone too.

A few things you can do when you’re getting started:

  • Keep updated on local initiatives that might help
  • Follow community groups and platforms 
  • Stay posted on local initiatives and support available 

In this previous Spark & Co. article on creating your own e-books, we spoke about the resources needed to get off the ground. 

For those seeking financial aid, especially given the circumstances COVID-19 has placed people in, Spark & Co.’s resources are a great place to start.

Additionally, for further creative assistance Spark & Co. are currently creating a great learning area. This will be a members only space to share learning videos, workshops and guides.

For those wanting to embark into creative work Zoe Thompson, founder of Sweet Thang zine has created an incredible guide to help with breaking into the industry here