When I first started out as a virtual assistant in 2011, social media was my first port of call for marketing. Six years on and I still view social media as one of the most valuable marketing channels out there.
But it’s not for everyone.
First, let’s not forget why social media has become so phenomenally popular today. Its roots lay in providing a platform for people to effortlessly interact and be “social”.
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and all the other social networks out there enable people to share photos, memories and life updates with the push of a button.
Now you might be wondering, what’s that got to do with marketing myself as a freelancer or solopreneur?
A lot actually, as it goes.
That’s because social media is a fickle beast when it comes to marketing. It was never designed to be full of brands bustling for attention and plying their wares in people’s news feeds.
That’s why you need to be smart and patient when looking to leverage social media for marketing purposes.
My top advice would be to get yourself on social media. In particular, the channels you think your target audience is on. Then, you need to spend time interacting with them, getting to know them and providing immense value in everything you share with them.
Share personal successes, images and videos. Show them who you are and what you are all about – do not try and sell to them directly! Then, and only then, will you have gained their trust and attention.
When people like you and see that you know what you’re doing, they will come to you! 😀
This blog post is part of the Freelancermap.com Book Carnival.
Why you might want a Social Media Manager (SMM)
Many small businesses have grappled with social media, have gained some traction and have done a good job of building and managing their communities. But what happens as your business, and your following, grow simultaneously? Inevitably, there comes a point when you need to consider how to keep on top of your social media tasks and your business.
If you feel that you are at that tipping point, then it’s likely time for you to consider hiring an SMM to handle these responsibilities full time. Keep in mind, that this is a position more commonly associated with large businesses whose social media accounts are virtually overflowing with content and feedback and who have a large enough budget to devote resources solely to social media.
There are a number of job titles, which refer to a very similar set of responsibilities as a Social Media Manager might handle, as well as spinoffs and more specialised roles. Here are a few examples:
- Social Media Strategist
- Social Intelligence Professional
- Brand Ambassador
- Media Manager
- Community Manager
- Content Strategist
Most of the time in a smaller company one or more employees, as a secondary responsibility, fill these roles. However, in larger companies with the requisite budget to hire a specialist for each position within their social media department, multiple employees might fill each of those jobs as their primary role.
What does a Social Media Manager do?
The list of responsibilities assigned to a SMM can seem bottomless, but that is just the nature of social media. It is a constant, living representation of your brand and someone needs to be able to make sure that it is an accurate reflection of your company and its goals. To make it a little simpler, the basic responsibilities of a SMM are listed below in four categories.
A quality SMM needs to not just be able to manage and direct the flow of your social media presence, but also actively plan how to make it as effective as possible. The SMM should be setting goals for various aspects such as followers, comments, and reach. They must be able to strategise the course of content development and distribution based on the target audience. Content of course must also be in the particular brand voice, valuable to the audience (engaging) and, wherever possible, shareable.
Building a content strategy also means they will be responsible for ensuring that your company’s key messages are a focal point. Part of getting those messages effectively to the community that you are interested in reaching will include identifying and contacting valuable influencers. Some people wield great influence in the social media sphere and if they pertain to your company’s audience, then they cannot be overlooked as a resource.
2. Content Creation and Curation
SMMs have to be able to do a variety of types of content creation to be effective in their jobs. From writing blog posts and responding to tweets to sourcing images for use, a SMM needs to be a jack of all social media trades. It is also important that they are able to create or alter images to be certain that they are viable for use with the brand they will represent.
In order to effectively create content and get it noticed, SMMs must also be informed of what is trending or may start trending. A key skill is finding out what keywords, tags and hashtags are going to help to get your message to the widest audience while also appealing directly to your existing social community.
3. Community Management
Even if not directly responsible for it, one of the SMMs most critical roles is ensuring that comments, messages, emails and tweets are responded to promptly and in the brand voice. One of the easiest ways to lose ground in your social media community is to be ineffectual in your responses. Timeliness and consistency are crucial to maintaining a positive image online. This also includes being very engaging and showing appreciation for positive feedback, while at the same time responding thoughtfully to negative feedback. That doesn’t mean that your SMM should be admitting fault or getting hammered by insulting Facebook comments, but negative feedback should be acknowledged and used to help enhance a company’s social media strategy.
4. Analysis, Reporting and Consulting
Because the SMM is at the helm of the social media ship in all senses, it is imperative that they are reporting regularly back to the company about recent developments. This does not need to be daily necessarily, but monthly at least, and in many cases weekly updates would be better. Social media moves too quickly for anything less frequent.
Reporting should be done according to how progress is made on the goals that were set. Developments in the course of a week or two can be indicative of working strategies or those, which need improvement. The SMM needs to be able to analyze the trends of the company’s social media trends and use the data gathered to better implement current strategy or, in some cases, create a new strategy for the brand.
Ultimately a Social Media Manager is responsible for building and strengthening the bridge between a company or brand and its target audience. It is a role with critical responsibilities and lots of them. To reiterate, most small companies will not be in a position to need a full time SMM, but for larger companies it will be difficult to survive without one.
Photo credit: mkhmarketing
With 302 million monthly active users sending 500 million Tweets per day, Twitter can feel like a double-edged sword. With such a huge audience of consumers, comes competition from other businesses all vying for their attention. In order to stand out from the crowd and avoid being drowned in a sea of Tweets, your brand needs all the help it can get. A clear strategy based on thorough analysis is paramount if your business is to continue to engage the right users, grow its following and garner goal-orientated results.
Luckily, there are swathes of Twitter tools available to help you accomplish just that…but where to start and which to choose? Many tools have appeared and disappeared over the last couple of years. One word of caution when using any 3rd party applications; do keep abreast of policy changes on social media platforms. Some tools do have issues, if they have break Twitter’s Ts&Cs, they will stop working altogether.
Before you get lost in the mire of endless options, consider first which areas of your strategy need the most support. Choose a tool that fits the need, experiment with it, learn its nuances and test the outcomes before introducing additional tools. Not only will this result in a fair test of the tool in question, but it will also prevent the inevitable melt-down that results from trying to do too much learning at once!
I have experimented with a number of tools for both my own social media efforts, and those of my clients. Here’s my pick of some of the Twitter tools I use for success:
Primary feature: Time-of-day tweet optimisation
You have spent a great deal of effort in creating the perfect tweets for your audience, but are they being buried in the rabble? Tweeting often is important, more than once per day if you can, in order for you your voice to be heard. Regular tweeting alone is not always enough though, at peak user times, everyone (including your direct competitors) has the same idea. Tweriod helps you identify the optimal time to tweet in order to get the biggest reach. A simple and easy to use tool, that will help you stay one step ahead of your competitors and see your messages cast the largest possible net.
Primary feature: Discovering relevant, shareable content
Recently launched Fan Page Robot searches and suggests trending content for your audience, enabling you to quickly and effectively retweet interesting content. This tool is no one-trick pony though. In addition to soothing your content curation woes, it will help you identify the best hashtags for your posts, the best times to tweet and even includes a post-scheduling dashboard.
Primary feature: Finding new customers
Twitter is great for keeping in touch with existing customers, building community and even as an extension of you customer support efforts. Responding to your followers keeps them engaged and makes them feel valued. But what about finding new business? TwitHawk enables you to find new customers who might need your products and services, by searching for queries that a potential customer might have posted. For example, if you sell designer menswear, you might search for ‘Where can I buy designer shirts?’. TwitHawk will then do the legwork of filtering through and listing tweets with relevant keywords. You can even target the search geographically.
Of course, there are many other tools available, and you may already have your own favourites, but if you need a helping hand, give these a whirl. They can save you a great deal of time, frustration and even money.
Photo credit: Pete Simon on Flicker
I took part in a Podcast with one of my clients last week, it had been in the pipeline for a while, so really pleased that we managed to get it done before the New Year. It’s all about the tools and apps we’ve been using in 2014. As you know from my blog, I love testing out new tools so this podcast was right up my street. I got to talk about my top 3 apps/tools/resources I’d been using for the last year, some golden oldies and a new resource I hope you’ll all check out.
You can listen to the Podcast here: Our Favourite Apps and Tools of 2014 – Podcast – it’s just less than 20 minutes long, so a great thing to do while having your morning coffee!
December’s here and that means you should be focussing on one thing: your social media strategy for 2015, of course! Okay, so there’s the small matter of Christmas to get out of the way first, but that shouldn’t stop you from thinking about where your social media marketing efforts are going to be focussed next year.
But with so many social media platforms available, how can you be sure which one is right for your business?
Facebook is the largest, Twitter is the timeliest and Google+ (whether you believe it or not) is thought to have an impact on search rankings. Then there’s Pinterest, LinkedIn, Instagram and Tumblr to consider. And you should really consider them; especially, for example, as Tumblr has just been revealed as the fastest-growing social platform at present.
So with all that in mind, and to prevent you wasting your time on platforms that perhaps aren’t the right fit for your business, we’ve broken them down to help you decide which ones you’ll leverage.
It may no longer be the fastest-growing social network but it’s still the biggest (by quite a margin). Therefore, Facebook should definitely still be a part of your marketing mix in 2015.
Facebook is great for engaging with your audience and building a community presence, but you need to ensure that you offer real value in your posts. A mistake that some businesses make is to use Facebook as a one-way advertising platform – something that will see your page ‘unliked’ in a heartbeat.
Despite its simplicity, people still love Twitter. There’s something alluring, almost exciting, about expressing yourself in 140-characters or less.
Similar to Facebook, Twitter affords the best results when it’s utilised for two-way communications. If you want people to retweet your updates, comment on them and actively follow you then you need to engage them and reciprocate.
Twitter works best when you post timely updates that contain topic-based news and/or up to the minute insights.
Can you afford not to use a social network that’s associated with the world’s largest search engine? After all, if the other social networks have the ability to impact search engine rankings then Google+ must surely be the king.
Furthermore, the fact that Google also own Youtube means that integration between the two is absolutely seamless. So if your business lends itself nicely to video-based content, Google+ could be the social network you’ve been looking for.
LinkedIn is probably the most business-focussed of all the social networks we’ll talk about and the fact that your contacts are referred to as ‘connections’ shows the importance it places on professional networking.
Perhaps best suited for B2B, LinkedIn provides a great platform on which you can discuss and share industry insights. Don’t, however, expect to see amusing cat videos though as LinkedIn is all about peer networking and industry insights.
Defining your message for your LinkedIn audience will be the key to your success and brazen self-promotion won’t go down as well as posts that provide real value.
The Best of the Rest
Tumblr, as we’ve already mentioned, is growing fast and tends to attract a much younger audience than most other social networks. Bear this in mind if you’re thinking of using it and ensure your posts appeal to the demographics that you’re targeting.
Pinterest and Instagram are almost completely visual networks and so if your business expresses itself effectively through images, these two could be for you. Pinterest is also very popular among women, so if they’re your target market, you could be missing a trick by not having a Pinterest presence. Instagram, on the other hand, tends to appeal more to urbanites who like to share their daily experiences through photos.
The key to social media marketing is achieving the perfect campaign mix. That means the perfect mix of networks, posts and audiences. Adapt your style according to the platform and the people you’re trying to reach.
Also, remember that the best results will be realised from genuine two-way interactions. Therefore, if you’re looking to capitalise, be prepared to engage with your audience and provide them with genuinely valuable updates.
Last week, I gave you an insight into my top 5 productivity tools. Whittling that list down to the final 5 was actually quite difficult and I’ll tell you why… When I started planning the post, I soon realised just how many tools and applications I use on a day-to-day basis!
In fact, it could have quite easily been “My Top 10” or “My Top 15” but I felt that that would detract somewhat from the overall impact and meaning of the list. That said, there was one other application that nearly made the list but didn’t – and there’s a reason for that.
You see, when I was composing the other post, I was in two minds about whether to include Spokal or not. In the end I chose not to, but promised myself that I would write a separate post on it.
Spokal – for those of you who haven’t tried it – is quite simply, brilliant! Basically, if you want a fast and easy way to create highly effective inbound marketing campaigns then Spokal is for you.
It works in unison with your existing WordPress website/blog and a host of other applications such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ Facebook and Mailchimp. From my point of view as a virtual assistant, the best thing about Spokal is that incorporates so much functionality into a single tool, which saves a huge amount of time and immensely boosts productivity.
Spokal has many features and I can’t begin to go into them all. Therefore, I’ll outline the three that I find the most useful – which was difficult to determine as every aspect provides real value.
You’ll no doubt understand the importance of great content as part of an inbound marketing strategy and Spokal makes creating it not just easier but also more fun. That’s because Spokal features a content editor that is predominantly drag & drop.
Therefore, you can create exceptional pieces of content in just a few clicks using your imagination. Spokal even serves up a variety of Creative Commons images, from sources like Flickr, which you can use royalty-free and the relevant photo attributions are automatically created.
Also, the real-time SEO advice is great for anyone who is looking to really optimise their content for the search engines – aren’t we all!? It provides an SEO overview for your post as you create it and offers tips on how to improve your post’s SEO score.
The Twitter integration is really powerful and allows you to literally drag relevant tweets right into your content to add extra depth. Spokal will display a list of relevant tweets and you can choose the ones you want to include.
Social Media Sharing
With your high-quality and engaging content created, Spokal then enables you to schedule it in a highly efficient way. Basically, Spokal will automatically share your content based on a custom schedule that you define.
Again, the social media calendar is drag & drop, which makes the whole process much quicker. You can start building a comprehensive schedule in a short period of time. Once configured, Spokal will take care of the rest and you can concentrate on doing what you do best: running your business.
Furthermore, the Feedly integration allows you to curate content from other people in the same calendar, thus saving you a lot of time.
We all know that social media is no longer an optional extra to boost marketing. In fact, it now represents a significant part of our marketing arsenals and, when used correctly, can drive traffic, create more business and allow us to really engage our customers and potential customers.
Spokal’s Twitter builder is perfect for those of you who want to tackle the social network but aren’t sure where to start. It’s designed to get you leads and traffic more quickly than you would alone.
It’s designed to help grow your Twitter following on autopilot with genuine followers who have an interest in what you have to say. This allows you to forge new relationships and steadily engage more people to boost your brand’s reputation, ultimately driving more sales.
I’d love to hear if any of you have tried Spokal – or any similar tools for that matter – and if so what your experience has been.
Photo credits: Spokal