‘Adapt or be left behind’ is the expert advice from three of Australia’s leading social media content creators when it comes to business growth. Since Facebook launched 20 years ago, social media platforms have increasingly become part of daily life with most of us being able to do almost anything from our mobile phone via an app. For businesses, that means social media content creation is a key consideration in their marketing mix. 

In fact, for David King, the general manager of Sydney confectionery enterprise Sticky, it was social media marketing that sent him from practically broke to soaring to new heights. “There’s nothing more powerful,” he says of the digital technology’s reach. “The idea that your business can reach potentially two billion people at the touch of a button – the cost of entry is very minimal compared to traditional marketing.”

The statistics are compelling: 81 per cent of Australia’s population has active social media accounts and almost 1 in 3 Australians seek out brand or product information through social platforms. This, along with our usage accounting for roughly one-third of our time spent online (the second most popular media activity behind watching TV), and it’s clear that we’re hooked.

A social media strategy is paramount for business growth according to David, as well as social media strategist and media commentator Meg Coffey of West Australian-based Coffey & Tea, and Tru Fit founder and Melbourne-based content creator Michael Brunelli. Here, they tell us why.

Getting started on social media

If you’re new to the world of social media for business, there are a few key strategies worth considering when getting started. 

Find your audience

First things first, figure out where your target audience loves to scroll to help your content earn more eyeballs. Are you going after a younger demographic? A 2023 study shows 40 per cent of Australian TikTok users are between the ages of 18 and 24 years. Hoping to gain the attention of parents? Try Facebook, where 55 per cent of users are 25 to 54 years old. Surfacing your content in the most relevant platforms will help it perform better.

Know your social media platforms

Social media sites are favouring video content, but that’s not to say all platforms are the same. Apps like Facebook and X allow users to share different formats of content, such as photo albums or written statuses, whereas platforms such as TikTok, Instagram and YouTube are strictly visual and popular content often moves in trends. Knowing what performs best and creating tailored content for specific platforms will boost your reach and help your channel gain followers. 

Create a content plan

When working across different social media platforms, a content calendar will be your best friend. Just as you keep a social calendar, a content calendar allows you to map out posts and keeps you on schedule with an overview of each channel’s content. Posting consistently and making the most of in-app features, like adding a poll to an Instagram story or using a trending audio on Tiktok, will help boost how far your content travels. You can easily design your own calendar using a spreadsheet or templates on Canva. And, if you’re short on time, apps like Sked Social, Loomly or Hootsuite allow you to forward-plan your content.

Try social media tools 

Not sure what to post? Scroll through the different channels or take a deep dive into social media tools that track what’s trending, such as Later.com or the TikTok Creative Centre, to see what might be relevant or adaptable to your own brand. If design isn’t your strength, apps such as Canva can help you create eye-catching posts with editable templates for different social platforms. 

Social media posts: organic vs paid

You have your audience, platform, content and calendar. Now, it’s time to consider organic or paid posts. Organic posts are those that don’t have any money behind them, whereas paid posts are advertising, with a specific amount of money put towards increasing their reach. If you’re looking to test out paid content, try investing in a post that has performed well organically first. If your current audience liked it, then your new audience probably will, too.

Consider influencer collaborations

While anyone can create social media content (make a post and voila!), becoming an 'influencer' requires more effort and skill. Influencers are content creators who have built up a significant following, usually because of their expertise or a shared interest in a certain area. You can potentially step up your social media reach, engagement and brand trust by collaborating with influencers on TikTok, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube, but be sure to find someone who can genuinely relate to your business for an authentic collab.

SEE ALSO: How To Plan a Successful Brand Refresh

David King, General Manager of Sticky

Sticky confectionery general manager David King and two staff members standing, facing the camera and smiling with their arms around each other.
It’s important to show the human side of your business, says Sticky general manager David King. 

In a sticky situation when COVID-19 hit Australia in early 2020, lolly creator David King’s confectionery shop in Sydney’s The Rocks was on the brink of collapse. The world was in lockdown, sweets for upcoming weddings and events cancelled and tourists non-existent. The doors to his store were closed – for what he thought was for good. With revenue close to zero, "going live" on Facebook and launching on TikTok was his golden ticket to business success.

Find Your Niche

“My manager and I were standing in the shop with everything going into lockdown… all our custom orders cancelled. No tourists in the tourist precinct of The Rocks. We had 10,000 followers on Instagram and around 70,000 on Facebook, which we did very limited content on. What we do [making lollies] is inherently theatrical and people like watching what we do, so we thought, ‘What have we got to lose?’ and set a camera up against the glass and pressed the ‘Live’ button first on Instagram and then on Facebook, and it went crazy really quickly."

Sticky confectionery general manager David King stretching and shaping red-and-yellow-striped molten sugar as part of the lolly-making process.
Sticky usually plans its social media content creation around its lolly production schedule, says David.  

Try Different Social Media Platforms

“There were 60 people watching [as we made sweets], then 160 and all of a sudden there were 3,000 people watching us live at a time. My daughter Annabelle was in her HSC (Higher School Certificate) year, but wasn’t really involved in the business and she said, ‘You should have TikTok’ and I said, ‘What’s TikTok?’ She talked me into it, and then that took off and melted everything down. We had two million followers in a weekend and our website collapsed. We weren’t set up [for selling online]."

Be Open to Changing the Way You Work

“Prior to the pandemic, people were ordering by email. So, we were then sitting in a corridor of our empty shopping centre putting lollies in boxes and writing addresses on boxes. That had to change really, really quickly to meet demand. We had to have relationships with Australia Post, a new website – all the big effort stuff in business to make our business profitable, becoming an international shipper, how to manage stock and the logistics – my wife Rachel was the brains behind that. It was crazy. We are all candy makers and show ponies, but she is the transformer."

Sticky confectionery staff laying out and cutting up the molten sugar as part of the lolly-making process.
Showing off its intricate and colourful production methods has helped Sticky to attract millions of followers to its social media platforms. 

Show Your Offering Authentically

“Before COVID, it never occurred to me the power of these social platforms and the reach, as we never much engaged with it. Now that I am involved, I can’t imagine having any business and not engaging any platforms to some extent.

“I think if you don’t have social media, you’re missing out on something. But for a while there we questioned: ‘Are we a confectionary company that makes videos? Or are we a video company that makes confectionery?’ There was a bit of negotiation on that internally around who we were and wanted to be. We’ve gotten to a place where we make very, very beautiful things out of candy and make videos around that. We learned to prioritise the core offering and then manage the content creation around that rather than letting it dominate our lives."

Be Prepared to Make Mistakes

“[Social platforms are] your opportunity to connect with people on a really human level, and show why they should trust your brand and you with their money. The barriers to entry on social media are low. You can experiment, try different things and stream live. You have to be prepared to make mistakes, which we do!

“We show the failures, too. It can be intimidating putting your brand and yourself out there, but we are just ourselves on camera. Our production quality isn’t great. Our delivery can be a bit rough around the edges but followers can see these people [on camera] are genuine, they’re real, they know them and understand them and why they’re doing it. We aren’t embarrassed to be ourselves. In fact, that’s our calling card, and I think that’s been key to people engaging in our content.”

SEE ALSO: What I’ve Learned About: Honesty and Authenticity in Business

Meg Coffey, Social Media Strategist at Coffey & Tea

Coffey & Tea founder Meg Coffey smiling and sitting at a cafe table that has a laptop and coffee on it.
When planning your social media content, find what authentically fits for you, says Coffey & Tea founder Meg Coffey.

More than 20 years ago as a backpacker from the US state of Texas, Meg Coffey came to Western Australia for a holiday and has never left. She was recognised as one of Australia’s Top 50 Small Business Leaders in 2017, with her social media marketing agency Coffey & Tea helping tourism and hospitality brands to connect with their audience through social media content creation. 

“When I got to Australia, being a backpacker I couldn’t get a ‘real job’, so I worked in tourism and hospitality. I had a degree in marketing, so I became the person doing that in my jobs. It was right when social media was just coming in, and I thought, ‘This is an easy way to get my message out,’” she says of running the social media platforms of companies she worked for, before launching her own business more than 10 years ago. “Tourism and hospitality had perfect elements for using social media. My background in media and my smarts with computers meant it just became a natural thing."

Coffey & Tea founder Meg Coffey smiling and sitting on some stairs while petting a dog.
Being active on social media is an essential part of your business’s online presence, says Meg. 

Get to Know Your Audience

“Social media can make businesses, but it also completely destroys a business if you do it wrong, if you make a mistake. The ways I’ve seen people do it well, is take little ‘mum and pop’ businesses and turn them into global successes. But it’s not that easy.

“Anyone can throw up a Facebook post, but when you do it strategically and really think about what you’re doing, it isn’t that easy. You have to ask the questions: ‘What is it that I am trying to achieve?’, ‘Who is it that I am talking to?’ and not just who you are talking to, but ‘Where are those people?’, ‘Who I have seen do it well?’ Brands who understand where their audiences are, brands that have said, ‘My people are here, and they like to be spoken to this way, so that’s the kind of content I am going to create and give to them.’ It’s also stopping the shouting or yelling. The ‘me, me, me, me, me’ – the screaming that a lot of brands do."

Tell Your Story Authentically

“Consumers are going to the brand… so, be cohesive, be organic, be authentic. Make sure each post tells a story on the grid, that each post can stand on its own and that they flow together. So, when I come to your profile I actually understand who you are and what you do.

“[Social media] has to be your number one tool. If you’re not online, your customers can’t find you. It’s that simple. Your profile is the elevator pitch. Can your customers identify quickly on the grid who you are? You’ve got to show up, you’ve got to have a presence and there is proof that frequency [in social media posts] matters, but make them quality posts. My other tip is: you need to be chronically online. You have to consume culture and I mean all of it: newspapers, you have to watch free-to-air [TV], socials. My radar is always up, so when something pings I will go and research it to see if it’s a trend. I am always constantly scanning. That’s key.”

SEE ALSO: Small Business Success Stories With Merry People

Michael Brunelli, Founder of Tru Fit and Social Media Influencer

Tru Fit founder Michael Brunelli standing and smiling in front of a wall featuring the Tru Fit branding.
Learning what your audience likes and delivering on it is vital to growing your business, says Tru Fit founder Michael Brunelli.  

His private life was private before he was launched into the spotlight during season six of reality TV program, Married At First Sight (MAFS). Since then, he and his MAFS bride Martha Kalifatidis have welcomed little Lucius, now 12 months old, and the former PE teacher launched his own band, Tru Fit in 2020. Oh, and they’ve both become successful social media content creators. 

Be Real With Your Followers

“When I came off reality TV in 2019, social media was really geared towards still images, perfect scenes and influencers posting only one per cent of their lives,” says Michael. “It was a whole lot more ‘fake’ than it is now. Nowadays, with the rise of TikTok and the younger generation not being afraid to post their insecurities, mistakes and learnings, social media has transformed into a video driven world, where you can actually get to know the ‘real’ person behind the screen sharing videos.

“It’s a much more honest place, with the fake getting called out quite brutally in the comment sections. It’s refreshing at times, being able to post our life, knowing it’s nowhere near perfect, and our audience can relate and we can learn from each other. Being thrust into the spotlight at a time when reality TV was insanely big in Australia was the catalyst I needed to push myself into a new career of fitness and marketing on social media. Social media has allowed me to show people who I am, my relationship, and basically my life journey up to this point, and that seems to have resonated with people. The best influencers are the ‘real’ ones.”

Learn From Other Content Creators

“I enjoy scrolling TikTok to relax. Seeing the creativity of people on there can be inspiring for me and has led to plenty of amazing content ideas that I’ve used on my own page. Consume content from a point of view of learning the angles, hooks, editing; not just to watch. Try everything, see what your audience likes and follow that path. Also, bringing humour – self-deprecating for the most part – to my audience to make people laugh is key: be real, be honest, be open and have a laugh at yourself.”

What to Try

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