Using Social Media to Grow Your Business | Ashley Rutstein | Skillshare

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Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.

      Class Intro


    • 2.

      Getting Started


    • 3.

      What to Post & When to Post It


    • 4.

      Using Hashtags & Instagram Stories


    • 5.

      Increasing Engagement


    • 6.

      Balancing Business & Personal Posts


    • 7.

      Building Your Audience


    • 8.

      Class Project


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About This Class

Are you a business owner? Does the thought of social media make your head hurt? This class gives you simple ways to use social media to build your business through an authentic and likable online presence. Whether you're a small business owner like me, or in charge of your company's social media accounts, this class can help you figure out what kinds of content to post, how to make the most of that content, and how to build your following.

Bonus: If you like cats and inappropriate embroidery as examples, you'll love this class.

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Ashley Rutstein

Copywriter, Social Media Marketer, Etsy Seller


I've been work in advertising since my sophomore year of college at Florida State University. I graduated with a Bachelor's Degree in Information, Communication and Technology, and went on to earn a Master's in Integrated Marketing Communication.

Since then, I've worked at various ad agencies for clients like: JCPenney, Jameson Whiskey, Noosa Yoghurt, Jenny Craig, Krystal Burger, and Hansen's Soda.

I'm currently a Copywriter in Denver and own my own business, Apparently Ashley.

See full profile

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1. Class Intro: Hey there. I'm Ashleigh, copywriter, social media marketer at Sea Seller and murderer cat mom extraordinaire. I've been working in advertising and social media for seven years, and I've used it a lot for client professional relationships, but mostly my own side hustles. I had a YouTube channel. That's what got me started into social media. And now I'm on, etc. Selling and Brit Ary. That's totally inappropriate and not what Grandma's would be stitching. So in this class, I'm gonna share a lot of what I've learned over the years that can help you use social media to become an authentic, likeable voice for your brand as small business owner myself. Ah, lot of these tests are gonna be geared towards small business owners makers at Sea Sellers , but it really doesn't matter what size business you are. This content is super beneficial in the underclass project is gonna be a content calendar, so that means you're gonna go off and plan a week's worth of social content for your brand , and then I'm gonna help you finesse it and make sure that none of it is gonna end up on that condescending corporate brand Facebook page. So if you know the basic functions of Facebook and Instagram, You're ready to take that next step. You like inappropriate embroidery and cats as examples in this class is for you. 2. Getting Started: So for this class, we're gonna be focusing on Facebook and Instagram. Of course, there are other platforms you could use, like Twitter Pinterest linked in. But for most small businesses, when you're just starting out, it's easiest and often most effective to just start out with Facebook and Instagram. So let's start out with making sure you are on a business account. Facebook and Instagram both require you to be on a business account if you're trying to sell anything, so let's not make a mad by using personal accounts. You don't want to make Facebook matt. Anyway. A business account also gives you access to certain features that you don't get on personal pages, and it gives the analytics, which you're gonna wanna look at. Once you get a hang of your pages on Facebook, you want to use a Facebook page, not a profile Pages air for businesses and brands. Profiles are for you, your friends and those relatives who won't stop posting embarrassing baby pictures. Once you have your page set up, it's time to add a profile, photo cover, photo and business information. Your profile photo should be your business logo or, if you are the face and name of the business than fun are professional headshot works well , too. The cover photo is going to be the first visual impression of your business, so this is a great place to show off your products. A collage of products or even a styled shot of a best seller works really well here. And finally the business in vote at a short and sweet description of your business, a link to your website and hours and location if that applies to you. So now that Facebook set up, let's move the instagram. Converting your account to business account is super easy. You just go to settings and then click convert. It will also let you connect your business's Facebook page, so that lets you share your posts across both of those platforms at the same time. But just make sure you're sharing to your brands Facebook page and not your personal profile. And then make sure you have a profile photo, which should be your logo or again, a good head shot, a brief bio and then a link to your website. And remember on instagram links in the captions don't work. So this link to your website in your bio right here is gonna be the only link that your followers can use. So make sure it's your website or whatever a specific item or event that you're pushing at that moment. So now you're all set up. Let's talk about what you should actually be posting. 3. What to Post & When to Post It: the most important thing to remember when deciding what to post is that social media is not the place for the heart. So if all you're posting is hey, buy this thing followed by hate by this thing, too, and hate while you're at it by these five things, your followers are gonna get real annoyed real quick and on follow you even quicker. Most obviously in the post about is the product itself. So when you want to post a picture of a product a finished product, try to make it a little bit more interesting than just product on white background. You want to style it a little bit, so make sure you're using natural light. You could find some props or colored backgrounds or little knickknacks to frame the photo, just to make it a little bit more interesting and catching. It doesn't always have to be a finished product, though. The beauty of being a small business owner is that you have access to most if not every step of the process. So you have tons of content around you just waiting to be shared on social media share, work in progress or a sneak peek of a new product. Take pictures of your workspace or your studio or your employees, even if that's just you. On Facebook, there is a feature called Pin Post, so normally or posts are gonna show up in chronological order. But pinning a post makes it stay at the top of your page, no matter how many things were posted after it. This is gonna be the first post someone sees when visiting your page for the first time. So you want to make sure it's need to know information. That could be a question that gets asked all the time that you're tired of answering your current sale and upcoming event or market, or just the product that you're pushing at that time. So that pin post should be a great representation of what kind of content someone should expect if they decide to follow you on Facebook, avoid posting with just text Facebook's algorithm, that crazy, complicated thing that decides which post to show in which feeds hates tax only posts. They think they're super boring, super lame. It's not gonna get shown to anyone. That algorithm highly favors content with media, so that's links photos, videos, especially videos. So if your content has one of those things, then you have a much higher chance of actually showing up in your polar speeds. So remember, kids just say no to text only posts. So when should you be posting? And how often? Unfortunately, there's no perfect answer for that, and I know that sucks, but it really depends on your brand, your specific audience. But ideally, you want to be somewhere between three times a week and every day. And, of course, so much content you actually have to work with is gonna be a big deciding factor here. But pay attention to what your audience likes, because when you start over posting, you start annoying the crap out of people, and then they started following you. And then what time of day should you post? Once you get a feel for your page and start looking at the analytics, you're gonna have a better idea of when your audience is online. But when you're just starting out, it really doesn't matter. As long as you're not posting in the middle of the night when no one is going to see your post, you're gonna be fine. If you want to think about your audience a little more. If you're targeting people that air, probably working 9 to 5 jobs, then don't post between 95 post at 5 30 so they can look at it right after they get off work. I like to post first thing in the morning just because I know a lot of my followers are similar to me, and they're probably doing what I'm doing in the morning, which is sitting in bed, pressing snooze 20 times and flipping through instagram to avoid the day. 4. Using Hashtags & Instagram Stories: Now we're gonna talk about a few instagram specific things. Using Hashtags on instagram is so important for growing or following. If someone's ever heard of your brand before, then how are they gonna end up on your page and follow you? They're not just gonna magically type in your brand name and find you and love your stuff. Violate your products. That's not gonna happen. So we have to use hashtags. Although magic would be so much cooler. So hashtags are basically search terms. Clicking on one takes you to an entire feet of photos that are relevant to that term, and this is how people will stumble upon your content. And hopefully, if they like your content, they'll click onto your page. And if they like your feed, then hopefully they'll follow you. So how do you choose which hashtags we're gonna use? Let's go through an example together. So we're gonna use this photo who made first. Let's identify what's in the photo. It's pretty simple. It's an embroidered hope. So let's do hash tag embroidery hoop. You'll notice I put the two words together when listing Hashtags. Do not use spaces or punctuation because wherever you use those signifies the end of the hashtag. So if I had typed hashtag embroidery space, Hoop Instagram would only recognize hashtag embroidery. You'll also notice when I start typing the hashtag Instagram came up with some of its own suggestions. And honestly, this is where I get most of the ideas for the hashtags I use in my own content. Just by typing in the first few letters of embroidery. I see a ton of others that I definitely want to use, and then I definitely want you somehow shows about Denver in here. So let's start with the obvious Pasha, Denver and then Instagram suggestions gave me a few more ideas that they like. And then for personal knowledge, I just know of a few more nicknames of Denver in terms that I want to add. So we'll do you hashtag three or free for three. Pride 50 to 80 and Mile High City. And then finally, I like to include my own brand name Hashtag, apparently Ashley. Just to try to monopolize this hash tag, I asked my customers to share photos of their purchases using that hash tag. So by filling this feed with my own photos. I can give them ideas of what kind of pictures I want from them and also just let them look through. Some of the other stuff I've made, if they were some reason, haven't made their way to my actual page, so this might look a little crazy right now. But luckily, Instagram will hide the rest of this caption since I added this little break by adding dashes that from the line I've seen some people do this with just a few dashes or even periods. I just prefer the look of the full line. It's up to you this way. It keeps your caption nice and clean and hides those hashtags that you don't look. Spammy. Keep in mind that you want to use a mixture of popular and less popular hashtags when you type in your hash tag. When Instagram comes up with the suggestion, it has a number below the hashtag. That's how many posts have already used that hashtag. So if you use a popular hashtag, your photos probably gonna get buried pretty quickly because there are so many people posting hundreds of photos, thousands of photos every second every minute. So your photos immediately pushed down. But the benefit of using that popular hash tag is that at any given second, there are tons of people looking at that hashtag. So when you use one of those, you're probably going to see most of the likes from that hashtag come in within a minute, properly even seconds after he post. So that's why mixing in some less popular hashtags is so important because you're competing with less people, your photos not gonna get buried as quickly in that feed. Now, of course, with the other ones, you've got a ton of immediate traffic. But with these less popular ones, you're not going to see a ton of likes from those early on. But the good thing is, your photos not getting buried so quickly. Your photo has probably going to stay in there for a while towards the top. So when someone goes to that hash tag later on, they're gonna see your photo even if he posted it a week ago. Another big part of Instagram is instagram stories. This is basically Snapchat, but on Instagram, so any photos or videos you take will play back as a slide show and then disappear 24 hours later. This is awesome. For a few things you can share the process of making your product. So take a few short videos while you're making it posted to your stories and let your follower see all the hard work that goes into that thing you're trying to convince them to buy. You can build anticipation for a new product by slowly revealing something throughout the day. I like to share what I'm up, Teoh. Well, sewing what? Nothing like show. I'm watching what my cats doing what I'm eating, you know, groundbreaking stuff. So basically anything that you want your followers to see, But you feel like isn't a stylized or its planned out or just won't fit into the overall aesthetic of your feed that can go in your in serum story. The best and creepiest thing about Instagram stories is that you can see who watched them, so that gives you a great idea of who your most engaged followers are. So now let's talk about getting some more of your followers engaged, not like in the marriage way. Unless you're in the business of matchmaking, then, yeah, you should definitely do that 5. Increasing Engagement: engagement and social media means likes comments and shares. And as brands we want as much as we can possibly get. We are addicted to engagement. We want a bathe in engagement. We want the heavens to shower us in engagement. Sorry, basically, the more interaction and engagement your brand gets, the more that trusty algorithm is gonna push your content into news feeds. And that's what's it worked, not the showering of engagement part. One of the best ways to increase engagement in your post is to ask a question. That doesn't mean tacking on what are you up to this weekend, or what's your favorite color just to ask a question. But if your post is a picture of a different color variations of your product and then you're asking what the favorite color is, that makes much more sense. Asking questions on your post can even be a good form of research for you. For example, if I were thinking about offering a new type of hoop, I would post a picture of it as a finished product and then ask my fans what they thought, even if I was pretty sure that they're gonna love it. This is an awesome way to drum up excitement about a new product and then, of course, increase engagement by getting them to comment and say what they think about it. Giveaways Air Another great engagement tactic. You could host one as a celebration of your brand's anniversary or a product lunch, or even a milestone, like reaching 1000 followers on social media. A lot of instagram giveaways will ask you to tag a friend or two in the comments in order to enter the give away. And that's awesome because not only are you increasing your engagement, their comments, but you're also getting a ton of new potential followers brought to your page. So figuring out engagement is a lot of trial and error, which is not the best thing for you to hear in a class about trying to get engagement. But it's true. Different audiences engage with different things, so my advice to you is just to try something out. If it doesn't work, you move onto the next post in the next idea. Eventually you'll find something that your audience loves to interact with, and you'll have great engagement in the future 6. Balancing Business & Personal Posts: How do you balance your business with your personal posts? I've heard so many small business owners asked this question, and I know it sounds tough, but it's actually really simple. The heart of a small business is the person or the people behind it. Customers love knowing that they're buying something from a real human being and not some faceless corporation. So, yeah, it's totally okay to share your personal life on your social media. Of course, you want to stay away from things like politics and religion unless that's directly related to your brand in some way. But otherwise, just leave the Facebook debates for your personal profile. The best way to post about something personal on your brand page is to relate it back to your brand in some way. For example, my cat is really stinking cute, like I want the whole world to see how cute this cat is. But I'm not just gonna post a plain old picture of her on my brand page when she decides to be cute next to my embroidery stuff while I'm tryingto work. Then she gets to go on my brand pitch. It is always have to be like that, though I once shared a picture of my Halloween costume on my brand page had nothing to do with my products at all. But my followers loved it. They like seeing the person behind the brand. They like seeing that I could be creative in other ways. So, yeah, when you can relate your personal post back to your brand, we don't box yourself in. Just make sure that any personal poster of sharing are contributing to your brand growth in some way. 7. Building Your Audience: When it comes to social media, a lot of businesses get caught up on the numbers. They're constantly checking their follower out, freaking out over every little fluctuation. And not only is I'm a little crazy, it's also the complete wrong thing we should be focusing on. Of course, we want more followers, but we want more followers who were actually going to engage with us and hopefully buy something from us. That's why buying followers is such a big no no and completely useless because none of those fake followers will ever engage with your brand. So just keep it in mind as we work on a few things that can actually help build those numbers that we want. Yeah, we want numbers, but we also want engagement. First of all, make sure your business website or physical location is advertising your social media. Your existing customers are the perfect candidates to follow your pages, but they need to know that those pages actually exist. So at a few social icons to your website with click through links that go to the Social pages and then put a sign somewhere in your store, your physical location that lets customers know where to find you online. You'll also want to include some social icons or just your user names or account names on your business cards. Another great way to increase your social following is to make your customers brand ambassadors. So every time you send out a purchase or order include something in there that's asking them to take a picture and share it online, they contact your brand. They can use your brand hashtag. Either way, all of their friends and followers are seeing your product and then have an opportunity to click through and maybe become a follower themselves and eventually a customer. The next up to growing you're following is engagement. You know that thing We try to get our followers to Dio. That means interacting with your followers on your page by responding to comments. But that also means interacting with other brands. You don't want to go to a hash tag. And just like every picture possible, I'm gonna do this mindfully. So pick something that interests you or something that's a compliment to your business and just see what other accounts are out there. Tell them you think their stuff is cool. That goes a really long way in the small business world, and you could make some really awesome connections. I'm constantly liking and commenting on pictures from woodworkers and illustrators and other artists, but even more so I do not with other embroiders. Whoa, that's the competition. Why would I interact with the enemy community over competition? Just because another brand is making or selling the same thing as you doesn't mean you can't interact. There's a very high chance that that same thing is not really exactly the same thing. You both probably have a special technique or style that sets you apart. Having a relationship with other similar businesses, especially in the small business world, is so beneficial because you become like a little support group for each other. You could help each other out. You can ask questions, you can share each other's work, and it really helps you grow your following. I have gotten so many followers just from other embroiders sharing my work, and I do the same thing for them because that's what community over competition means. We help each other out, and we all succeed in the end 8. Class Project: So nine of the basics let's put him in action for a class project is to create a content calendar. This is your plan of attack for a week on social media. I love contact calendars because they take the stress out of planning your social posts. They help you prepare for photography that you're gonna need to take, or they help you look ahead to upcoming sales or events that you have coming up. So go ahead and download the worksheet that I provided that will help you plan out each post for the week. And then once you posted to the project gallery, I'll take a look and help you finesse it and give you some suggestions Where I see if it of course, if you have any questions, let me know. I cannot wait to see all of your awesome content calendars. They're gonna be bitchin