Basics of Marketing and Social Media for Firearm Instructors - Part Two

In Part One of this series, we looked at how positioning, building customer personas, and defining success are instrumental in laying the foundation of a great marketing plan for any business. Part Two of this series looks at the practical application of technology in our marketing plan as it relates to social media usage for firearms instructors. As many of you already know, there are terms and conditions that significantly limit firearms-related advertising on most social media networks. Because of this limitation, we’ll focus on organic, free marketing that leverages our existing social media accounts on Facebook and Instagram to engage our fans and customers.

Facebook
There are several approaches to marketing your training business on Facebook. Here we’ll look at some of the more popular approaches to organic Facebook marketing.

Facebook Profile
Many instructors find that it’s best to create a new Facebook account profile for their professional interactions. When you have a work account and a separate personal account, you’re freer to “friend” those in your area that could be your potential customers without disclosing too much personal information. This practice is usually considered good operational security and helps differentiate your business from your personal life. Having a Facebook profile that you can use in marketing your business also allows you to become a participant in the dialogue that happens in Facebook Groups.

Facebook Groups
You may find that there are already active and thriving Facebook Groups in your geographic area focusing on your area of service. For example, if you’re in the Ohio area, you may find that there are several Facebook groups that have large local memberships that are organized around an interest in guns, shooting, hunting, or self-defense. Proper etiquette in this situation would be to introduce yourself to the admins of the group, introduce yourself to the members according to the group guidelines (if any), and then join in the discussions that are already happening. When the time is right or as it comes up in normal conversation, mention your business and any upcoming events or classes. When in doubt, ask the admins if it’s ok to advertise an event or class. Never join a group and begin marketing yourself without integrating yourself into the community. This is the Facebook equivalent of spamming and will oftentimes result in your account being banned from the group.

Facebook Company Page
A Facebook company page is a great place for your events, reviews, and general announcements. This is different from your Facebook profile and is dedicated to information about your business. From your Facebook company page, you can create Facebook Events with date, time, and details and then invite people to the event. This is a great way to not only spread the word about your training classes and other events, but also to gauge interest and turn-out based on the responses given.

Facebook Live
Interact with your fans in real time and discuss hot topics, answer common questions, teach lessons, or host an AMA (ask me anything) right from your Facebook profile or company page. This live streaming video is a great way to put a personal touch on your marketing efforts and interact in real-time with your fans, customers, and potential customers. Going live from an event or training class is a great way to let potential customers know what your class is like and what they can expect if they were to attend.  

Instagram
With over one billion active users on Instagram, it’s no wonder that businesses are clamoring to get their message on the platform. Hootsuite has a great guide on the basics of Instagram that covers choosing a username, biographical info, choosing who to follow and more. The audience on Instagram skews much younger than Facebook, which may or may not help you determine if Instagram is right for your business.

Instagram Feed
Instagram is part of the Facebook family of media and some parts are interlinked together. It’s possible to post your Instagram content on your Facebook account, but not vice versa. Instagram Feed posts have an indefinite life, unlike Instagram Stories. Posting once or twice per day is recommended and should be directly relevant to your audience. Clear, beautiful photos are highly recommended and when in doubt, use fewer filters instead of more. For more information about your Instagram Feed, use this helpful guide from Instagram.

Instagram Stories
Instagram Stories is a way for Instagram users to post a short-lived update (24 hours) and not have the images on their Instagram Feed or profile grid. Depending on how many followers you have, you may be able to also link to your website from your Stories photos and can run informal polls. Typically, your Stories photos will include several updates throughout your day and can consist of video or photos. You can also easily link to other Instagram user profiles from your story. General etiquette for Instagram Stories is much more generous and multiple stories per day are encouraged and one hashtag is typical. Limited use of graphics and text on the image is appreciated. For more information about Instagram Stories, use this helpful guide from Buffer.

IGTV
The latest major development on Instagram is IGTV. As more and more people abandon traditional television, they are turning to digital television sources like IGTV. Longer videos (in vertical format) are becoming the new norm and can help you reach new audiences with your best content. Mediums such as IGTV typically require a little more technical understanding that other outlets, but if you have compelling content that can keep the attention of your audience for up to 15 minutes (60 minutes for larger or verified accounts), IGTV might be the platform for you. Find out more about IGTV here.

Conclusion
In Part Three, we’ll discuss Youtube, Twitter, forums, and other networks and how you can engage your audience for your firearms instruction business on those mediums.


Jason Young
Founder
Ballistic Agency


Ballistic Agency is a marketing agency founded in 2008 that specializes in interactive design, and ecommerce solutions within the Sporting, Hunting, Outdoor and Tactical industry. Ballistic has a talented team of marketers, designers and developers ready to solve your marketing problems and take care of your day to day advertising needs. Find out more at https://ballistic.agency.


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