Small Business Social Media Success Story: Geraldine Tan

If you own or work for a web-based business and the majority of your customers or clients interact with you through social media, then you’ve definitely experienced the agony and the ecstasy of marketing your brand on social media. There’s no way around it, though: 80% of those who market on social media platforms report that they rely on visual assets to do the heavy lifting when it comes to conveying their message, more so than video or blogging.

While it’s fabulous to reach new customers and to rack up likes on your schtuff, it can also hurt so bad when you have to keep producing a consistent stream of engaging, robust and original content. PicMonkey Senior Social Marketing Manager, Fabiola Millican gets it. “Social media is a place where your audience wants to be entertained or inspired, not sold to,” she says. “And balancing promotional content with entertaining and inspirational content is really tough.” It’s a real pain point and we wanted to know how real PicMonkeyers deal with it.

Geraldine Tan engages followers by consistently changing

Geraldine Tan, PicMonkeyer and owner of LittleBIGBELL, a style blog that’s been called “the design, interiors and lifestyle feed of your dreams” has hugely popular Instagram and Pinterest feeds that she updates frequently. This London-based professional stylist and interior designer is absolutely nailing the social media game with her vibrant, colorful images of home interiors, food and lifestyle inspo which evoke a sense of chic — yet unpretentious — fun.

Tan says, for her, the key to consistently posting fresh content is to mix up what she already has on hand. “I love styling my home and I’m always moving things around to create new looks,” she explains. “I try to make each look unique, but it doesn’t mean I go shopping all the time for new decor. I may have one new piece and I style around it with what I already have.”

A gallery wall styled three ways on Tan’s Instagram

In Tan’s Instagram feed, gallery walls are an ongoing theme and a source of simple — but high-impact — visual content. Tan changes out the picture frame contents to create varying looks, a rearrangement finesse she also employs with colorful decor pieces like pillows, toys and even sofas. Each new arrangement becomes an artfully composed Instagram post after she “brightens and sharpens the images on PicMonkey before posting them online.”

When social media becomes a business venture

Collabs with Valspar, Birchbox and ASOS Homewares on Tan’s Pinterest

Having thousands of followers is like catnip for brands who want to market to your specific audience, and many popular social media mavens have seen their networks become a valuable commodity. Tan may be a designer, but she is also an influencer by default, and someone that brands are eager to partner with. “Brands are excited to work with influencers who seem authentic in order to create beautiful content to convey their brand’s message,” explains Millican.

From house paint to cosmetics to soft furnishings, Tan has established partnerships with a range of brands, forming a successful symbiosis when the client “works with me rather than just telling me what to do,” Tan says. “A client that allows creative freedom and listens to how I could help present the campaign to my audience is the best kind of client.”

Different social media platforms for different types of marketing

Tan’s Instagram (top) and Pinterest (bottom)

For Tan, Instagram is where she especially shines. “It’s my most used social media site and an important component of my blogging business,” she says. “It allows me to show who I am as a person, to connect with followers and to showcase my skills.” She uses her Pinterest for a different purpose than her Instagram, understanding that it’s not just for inspo because “it’s a search engine too, and great for SEO.” Both pick up new followers every time another major media outlet like Architectural Digest or Glamour magazine calls her out as a “must-follow”.

Followers respond to authenticity, not sales pitches

No matter which social media network you set out to slay, Tan says that realness is key. “I think the most important thing is to show passion for the area you are promoting. Followers love authenticity,” she notes. “Good photography and editing are also key, especially on Instagram.” In a highly visual and competitive landscape like social media, Millican agrees: “You gotta stand out! Whether you have a small business or are a content creator, you’re a brand and staying visually consistent makes your content recognizable and reliable because your followers know what to expect from you.” She adds, “You want your followers to get excited to follow you and the story you have to tell!”

Tan sums up her social media success story by saying: “It’s important to find your tribe, to be able to interact with people who share similar interests.” That’s what social media is all about, after all: connecting with people, sharing ideas and showing off your talents. Or, to put it another way, identifying and focusing on your target market.

The Best Social Media Platforms for Social Media Marketing

Fabiola Millican, PicMonkey’s Senior Social Marketing Manager says that each of the big social media platforms is great for getting out different kinds of brand messages or connecting with a target audience. Here are her tips for effectively using different channels for branding and marketing on social media.

PlatformHow to leverage it for your small business
InstagramInstagram is all about powerful images that stop the scroll. Ask yourself, ‘Do I want engagement? User generated content? Followers and brand awareness?’ That’s what Instagram is good for.
PinterestPinterest is all about beautiful Pins that get repins/saves. It’s great for for generating traffic and conversions.
FacebookFacebook Stories is a new space that not many brands are utilizing. Repurposing Instagram stories on FB is great and will boost your impressions a lot.
TwitterTwitter is great as a customer support channel, a place for users/customer to reach a brand when they have feedback, good or bad.
YouTubeTutorials, behind the scenes, DIY’s, video video video is definitely something every small business owner should explore.

Turn inspiration into action. Join now, and treat yourself to the PicMonkey creative toolkit.
Sarah Gonzales

Sarah Gonzales is the content marketing manager at PicMonkey. Before this she worked at Intiut, and before that started a non-profit, and before that had a radio show, and before that worked at Ms. magazine, and before that went to UC Berkeley, and before ALL of that grew up in Alaska.