5 Simple Steps to Utilising Social Media
Without it Taking Over Your Life
No matter the size of your business, Social Media has become an integral part of its success. Whilst large companies have the finances to employ full-time social media managers, it’s not a luxury afforded by all. Small businesses, start-ups and freelancers are still responsible for managing their own social media presence and more often than not, the success of their business depends on it.
Using social media to your advantage and connecting with your market doesn’t need to be overwhelming, time-consuming or expensive. Following these simple steps can help your business succeed online without surrendering your life to social media.
Start With A Plan
As with all business models, the most important aspect is to have a strategy in place. By figuring out exactly what you are trying to achieve through your social media presence, you are better prepared to direct your time to the most useful tasks.
Set specific goals and objectives attainable, measurable goals based on metrics that will have a real impact on your business, like acquiring customers or increasing sales.
Research your competition. Save time and blunders by learning from your competitors mistakes and wins.
Conduct a social media audit. Step back and examine what is already working for you and what isn’t.
Create a social media calendar. Make sure that your content is where it should be, when it should be, with the right mix of content types for your audience.
Now that you know what you will be using social media for, you will be able to schedule how and when to use it in the most efficient ways.
Social media use is more than just posting content, you need to be engaging with your potential customers, too. Make a calendar or timesheet with allocations for creating content/graphics, scheduling, engagement etc.
Visual aids are great for reminding us to keep on task so make sure it’s physically noted in your to-do list or calendar and kept in view. You should set a specific amount of time to each part and you can even use a timer to make sure that you stay on track.
Choose the Right Platforms
It might seem like a good idea to be on all of the social media platforms, but if your target market isn’t there then you’re wasting your time. Your energy could be focused on another more profitable part of your business. It’s important to know where your target market is so that you can be there, too. This will result in less time spent making more profit.
Don’t assume you know where they are. It might seem obvious that Pinterest isn’t the best platform if your business sells bodybuilding supplements but you can use these handy social media demographics, put together by Hootsuite, to figure out where you should be.
Know Your Audience
As a small business or freelancer, you are able to micro-target your ideal clients via social media. This is a crucial part of your time spent on social media. Getting to know your audience allows you to create content which is specifically geared towards them and in return converts to more sales/customers and less wasted time.
Twitter and Research Now reported that 93% of people who follow small and medium-sized businesses on Twitter plan to buy from the businesses that they follow.
Quality Over Quantity
Trying to post on all of the social media platforms all of the time is a sure-fire way for your social media use to spiral out of control.
It’s much more time-effective, and successful for your business, to reach out to your audience in the places you already know they are present. Providing good quality content instead of spam builds a trustworthy brand and a well managed social media schedule.
The most effective means of social media use is to take advantage of the vast array of automated management tools. These are designed specifically to simplify your workload and mean that you can be posting on social media without actually being present on it.
There are countless different software options for this and they cover everything from scheduling content posting and centralising messages/mentions from all platform accounts, to curating content and creating in-depth analytic reports.
You may not yet be in the position to spend money on such programs but there are many free options available to you. Most of them have upgrade options for paid versions, too. If you decide to pay for them, you can include the rates in the bills for any clients that make use of them in your account. Some of them include –
Utilising these will allow you to allocate just one slot per day or week to your social media use instead of being stuck on it all the time.
If there is one thing to remember about social media though, it’s that:
Automation is no replacement for organic engagement.
Social media users are always looking for authenticity and connection. This is what will ultimately drive your business success on social media. Make sure that whatever else you automate, you include time in your plan to interact with your audience.
Respond to comments/messages
Comment on blog posts
Like other relevant groups/pages
Repin images on Pinterest
Mention/Tag on Instagram
Whilst engagement/interaction may seem like an easy thing to omit in order to spend less time on social media, it is actually the most important part! If you choose only one thing to implement from this list, make sure it’s engage-engage-engage!
Running a business is time-consuming enough, don’t let social media marketing take up all your valuable time or cause unnecessary stress. Try these steps and let me know in the comments if you have any other tips to share!
Chances are you’re already utilising Facebook to engage with the people who matter to your business and build a rapport with your followers. But have you ever considered using Facebook ads to further boost the visibility of your small business online? If you haven’t, maybe 2018 should be the year you give them a try.
With 2.07 billion monthly active users [source: Statista], Facebook is the most popular social network worldwide by quite a bit. In fact, the number two social network (if you exclude YouTube and the various instant messaging apps), Instagram, has (only) got 700 million monthly active users [source: Statista].
As you can see, given its immense popularity and reach, Facebook is a force to be reckoned with, which is why its native advertising platform is so powerful for businesses.
Still not sure?
Here are my top 5 reasons why you need to be leveraging the power of Facebook ads this year:
1. People eat, sleep and breathe social media
Today, Internet users spend a ridiculous amount of time on social media, especially Facebook. According to a study by influencer marketing agency Mediakix, people spend, on average, 35 minutes per day on Facebook. That equates to 1 year, 4 months on Facebook in a person’s lifetime.
There’s no denying that there are people who may be interested in your business on Facebook. All you have to do is find them with some clever advertising.
2. Potential reach is immense
As I’ve already mentioned, Facebook dwarfs the competition when it comes to monthly active users. Let’s put that into a bit more perspective.
Right now, it’s estimated that there are almost 7.6 billion people in the world. That means almost 30% (27.24%) of the world’s population has a Facebook account. Okay, so some people will definitely have more than one, but it’s still a staggering reality and highlights just how many people you can potentially reach on Facebook.
3. Audiences are laser-focussed
Facebook lets you laser-target your ads so they reach the people who matter. For example, you can target users by location, age, gender, ethnicity, education, interests, connections, behaviour and more.
This is possible because of the enormous amounts of data Facebook has stored about its users. Every time you share a post by your favourite author, Facebook knows and it logs that information for future use.
4. Facebook ads work
Because of Facebook’s massive user base and the laser-targeted advertising capabilities, your ads can reach people who are likely to be interested in your business and its products/services. The fact you can immediately exclude people based on their preferences or demographics means you’re not wasting your advertising budget reaching individuals who are not your ideal customers or are likely to have zero interest in what you have to offer them.
5. Organic reach is dying
Last but certainly not least, is the fact that organic reach on Facebook has been reduced significantly in recent times. It’s not surprising really when you consider how lucrative Facebook’s ad platform is for the social network. In fact Mark Zuckerberg made an announcement just last week about their aims for the future, which you can read here.
The good news, though, is that you can create Facebook ads that reach a large number of people with only a very modest investment.
With Facebook ads, you can drive more traffic to your business website, generate more leads, encourage people to interact with your page, expand your reach and secure more sales.
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! 😀
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
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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