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How Instagram is helping Latina entrepreneurs survive the pandemic

The pandemic put most brands into turmoil, if not out of business. It’s a dire situation for all businesses, but the minority-owned businesses bear the brunt. This is especially true for Hispanic-owned businesses, which took a 42% nosedive in sales from February to March 2020 alone. A similar report even suggested that the impacts of the coronavirus would be twice as bad on black- and Hispanic-owned brands than for white-owned businesses.

Despite this outlook, many Latina entrepreneurs weathered the crisis by pivoting their operations. These Latinas turned to Instagram to reach consumers and connect with others in the community. Get to know these three Latina-owned businesses that beat the odds via Instagram.

Cafe Con Libros (Bookstore)

The bookstore closed up shop in early March of 2020 when the pandemic broke out. It was a tough decision for Latina owner Kalima DeSuze since the business relied heavily on their storefront— they sold coffee and pastries. But DeSuze knew that it was the best thing to do in the interest of her staff and customers’ safety.

41-year-old DeSuze took social media, SEO, and e-commerce courses to learn how to effectively use Instagram. Applying what she learned, the bookstore gained 15,000 followers on social media. DeSuze successfully tapped into online retail and created a platform to share books authored by women of color in the process.

 

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Flower Bodega (Floral Design & Content Studio)

Florist and owner Aurea Sanabria Molaei was forced to rethink her business strategy after the pandemic hit. Her 2020 contracts started to fall through almost all at once. She came up with the idea of creating floral kits instead.

She would scramble to deliver all the kits to customers around New York. After completing deliveries, Sanabria Molaei would host a live floral arrangement class on Instagram, filmed from her studio. Other brands took notice and now ask Sanabria Molaei to do Instagram takeovers and live video sessions to teach floral design.

 

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Franca (Ceramics)

It was a massive blow to Jazmin de la Guardia and her business partner when their wholesale accounts shut down, crippling 95% of the business. This was when they decided to look to social media to drive sales up.

 

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The Franca staff poured their efforts into growing their Instagram account, and it proved to be a success. Online orders started to come in, and their products even caught Michelle Obama’s attention. She commissioned a line of mugs as part of her ‘Vote 4Ever Merch’ collection

You might be interested: 3 Marketing challenges Latina-owned businesses face

How you can maximize Instagram for your business

Maintain high-quality visuals

Aesthetics is crucial on Instagram. It’s a photo and video-sharing app, so there’s simply no room for shoddy shots.

Your photos and videos need to look professional if you want to be taken seriously— well-lit, in high-definition, and tasteful. Furthermore, make sure that your posts are cohesive. Choose a theme or color palette that best reflects your brand and stick with it.

Follow a schedule

More than pretty visuals, you need consistency to keep followers engaged on Instagram. This is why you need to plan out your content calendar in advance. In fact, you can even use a dedicated Instagram scheduler to ensure this calendar is followed down to the minute.

Some schedulers also deliver personalized insights that let you know when your followers are most engaged and suggest the best time for you to post. This is especially important given Instagram’s latest update to their algorithm, where new posts are noticed more. 

Take advantage of live videos

Take a cue from the Flower Bodega and the Fashion Designers of Latin America, start doing live videos. This gives you a unique opportunity to showcase your products as well as your brand personality in a more casual and intimate way.

Instagram allows you to broadcast live through the Stories format and even the IGTV format, which lets you upload longer-form videos, too.

COVID-19 put a strain on Latina entrepreneurs, but it’s also proven how their entrepreneurial skills and tenacity can tide them through even the most difficult times.

Mexican tacos social media for small businesses

Social media for small businesses, a must-do or die

Social media for small businesses has become an imperative in today’s competitive business world. Here are some tips from four experts in the field. 

“Who has time for Twitter and Facebook?” a Hispanic restaurant owner once asked me. His reasoning? All his clients were local, he was in a very good and visible location well-known for his “authentic Mexican food,” and he was working at full capacity. The man was right in all his assertions; however, if there is something in life you can count on, that something is change.

Mexican tacos social media for small businesses

Six months later, a big fast food Mexican chain opened a store half mile down the road. The novelty and the quick service together with the promise of “fresh and prepared-on-the-spot” dishes drew half of this restaurant owner’s clients to the new place. The war was on.

Soon my acquaintance realized that the old ways were insufficient to play hard against the chain. Not only had he to bring in new customers but also position his restaurant under a different light. The “authentic Mexican food” needed to be now an “authentic Mexican experience.” However, until those customers stepped in the door, how could he show the change?

Social media for small businesses best tips

Social media offers an array of opportunities for small business owners, providing tools that –although not totally free as they require some time and attention–, are manageable at very low cost with great and unexpected results. Yes, it can be overwhelming if there is little understanding of how to use the tools. Also, it can get discouraging if the tools are not being used properly.

So here are some tips for the beginner as well as the intermediate social media user:

  1. Like many other aspects of your business, you need to learn how to use the tools in order to master social media. Understanding what channel is the most adequate for your type of product, how to reach a local clientage that might be interested in your products and services, and how to adequately promote them needs some thought and know-how. Learn from the experts and apply to your particular craft or service. Attend a workshop at a local chamber of commerce –usually for free– or community college.

Michael Fertik, Forbes Contributor and Founder, & Owner, Reputation.com

“Small businesses should identify strong social influencers – bloggers that your customers read, individuals with robust followers – and start engaging with them.  Follow them on their social channels to spark a return follow.  Share their content.  Comment thoughtfully, respectfully and without self-promotion on posts multiple times a week.  As time goes on, the door for conversation will open – as will opportunities for more meaningful engagement like sharing new milestones or promotions, guest blogging or even reciprocal commentary on your posts,” says Michael Fertik, Social Media expert at Forbes (Is Social Media Worth It for Small Businesses?)

2. Once you choose the channels you want to work on, invest time and some dinero in a good page design. It should look as good as your business looks when a customer shows up at your location. A beauty parlor can share pictures of their popular haircuts and hairdos using Pinterest or a video on YouTube to demonstrate how a technique is done. While it is hard to share a recipe in 140 characters on Twitter, you can ask your Twitter followers to make comments about your place, ambiance, music or whatever makes your restaurant attractive in exchange for an offer or coupon. A real estate agent or broker can target potential local customers by showing listings, asking clients to give testimonials and providing tips on how to prepare a home for a quick sale.

Shantosh Kanekar social media for small businesses

Shantosh Kanekar, Advisor to Hedge Funds, Startups & CEOs

“Find out what is relevant to your customer’s life and give them the information that they want.

  • Are you a hiking gear company? Great. Talk about the best hikes in your local area and the world. Talk about the issues which are commonly faced by hikers. Develop Trust. Then weave in your gear story.
  • Are you a corner restaurant? Talk about the latest food trends in your local area and around. Make videos of how you are making your signature dishes. Show your chef visiting the market for picking up his recipe.
  • Are you an accountancy firm? Share the latest in small business accounting. Make your partners generate a video which simplifies complex tax issues. Share how you can help them through your Facebook posts.

Content which helps your buyer journey has to be the focus of your social media.Content is the step before Conversion,” says Santosh Kanekar, Startup Mentor, Leadership Coach and Author, Contributor at Entrepreneur (Social Media Trends for Small Businesses in 2017).

You might be interested: Lorraine Ladish uses social media to build community

3. In Latino culture, personal relationships are important. In person, a handshake, a greeting and a warm voice can close a deal. Be yourself on social media, talk about the issues that matter to you, as a business owner but also as a person. Let your potential customers know who you really are and trust you before they step into your door. Social media is not only a way to offer products and services; it is mainly a way of building relationships.

 

Ted Rubin

“The real value of social media is the SOCIAL part. That means having conversations with your followers, responding to them, interacting and engaging with them. It boils down to what seems like an obvious statement – to get a return on relationships with social media you have to be social. Ted knows this is a seemingly obvious thing to say, but as he tells me in the interview, “Ray, I’ll make this real simple. Almost everything I preach, almost everything I talk about, people can look at me and say, ‘Well, that’s common sense.’ But the truth of the matter is, common sense? It’s not very common.”

Knowing that the key to accruing ROR is communication, interaction, and engagement with customers, you might say to yourself – I don’t have the time (or the money) to communicate with everyone! Well, you don’t have to. Earlier we told you that return on relationships is “both perceived and real” and THAT is the trick,” says expert SM Guru Ted Rubin, who coined the Return on Relationship ROR benchmark (Ted Rubin on How to Maximize your Return on Relationships) 

4. Follow up with your fans as you would do with a client who visited you at your business. Give them feedback, ask for feedback. Contact them for their services and get truly interested in what they do or have to offer. Social media is a two-way street, not a window to show off.

Brian Hughes social media for small businesses

Brian Hughes, CEO and founder, Integrity Marketing & Consulting

“Small businesses need to have a solid online presence if they expect to be successful. 36% of people surveyed in the study indicated that they might choose not to do business with those small businesses that have no website. This is true for many industries. Small businesses need to be active on social media. It’s crucial to respond to critical reviews to keep customers. The study found that close to one in five respondents will avoid small businesses that are unresponsive to critical comments about the business,” says Brian Hughes, CEO, Founder, Digital Marketing Expert at Integrity Marketing & Consulting (Reality Check: Small Businesses Must Be Using Social Media). 

Increase your networking opportunities and contact those new potential clients afterwards on social media. Meet and greet other Latino entrepreneurs as well as general market businesses to exchange product offers, services and ideas. Don’t miss this opportunity to promote your business in style!