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 –
- Google Analytics
- Social Oomph
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!
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
For some time now there’s been one aspect of my work that has really frustrated me and I thought, why keep moaning about it? Much Better to write a blog post on the subject!
So here goes…
In my capacity as a VA, I have to carry out tasks for a range of clients situated all over the globe. That means working with individuals who are often in a different time zone to me, which can sometimes make communication that bit trickier.
Of course, modern technology has enabled me to work remotely on a full-time basis and I have plenty of tools to help me communicate effectively and efficiently. However, despite all this connectivity and all these communication channels, I hate it when I have to bother my clients unnecessarily – especially if it’s to ask them to complete a minor security check so I can carry on with my work.
You see, I often have to login to online systems and applications using the accounts of my clients and while this approach means I can happily and efficiently carry out my duties, it can also throw a spanner in the works when a security check pops up.
I have a list of applications and online services that do this, but the ones that immediately come to mind are Mailchimp, Hootsuite and LinkedIn.
For example, I was using Mailchimp the other day to create and schedule a newsletter for one of my clients. This is something I do on a regular basis and usually have zero trouble with. However, on that particular day Mailchimp decided that it would prompt me to setup some security questions – literally out of the blue and wouldn’t grant me access until I had.
I had to contact my client and get them to login to their Mailchimp account, setup the security questions and then give me the relevant information for future use. While this wasn’t really an issue, it still wasted some time (which I hate being a VA) and could have led to further delays had I not been able to contact my client immediately.
Don’t get me wrong, I am absolutely all for security and when you think how many cyber-attacks and hacking incidents were witnessed last year alone – a record number by the way – you realise just how careful we have to be online nowadays.
What I’m proposing is a way for the primary account holder to appoint another individual to utilise their account on their behalf. The account would still obviously be owned by my client and I would effectively be using it in a kind of ghost capacity. Every account management decision, every payment requirement and every personal information update would still be up to my client, but the day-to-day stuff I could just happily get on with.
Location-based security checks are fantastic and undoubtedly add another vital layer of security to the whole process. But when you’ve got a few minutes to input a code that has been sent via a text message to your client and the two of you aren’t in direct communication at that moment, frustration isn’t the word.
Then begins the logistical nightmare of trying to get another code sent; your client to read the message; and pass the contents on to you before the short time window expires. Furthermore, the fact that these kinds of security check seemingly appear at random makes the chances of me catching my client at the right time even slimmer.
By providing a way to fully secure accounts and add users ad-hoc, companies will certainly make my life easier and reduce the need for me to bother my clients whenever a security check decides to appear.
My fear is that the situation at present doesn’t lend itself particularly well to outsourcing and as a result companies may be less reluctant to do it going forward. We now live in a world built on global outsourcing, remote working and effective collaboration, but if the systems and applications we utilise don’t enable us to operate unhindered, what could the future potentially hold?
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.
By Carol Anderson Smith
LinkedIn is the reigning king of social business. Businesses with a well thought out LinkedIn implementation and engagement plan will accelerate revenue growth. Here are the four advanced LinkedIn tips to do annually.
1. Identify 3-5 SEO keywords and use them
Find the top words or phrases used when Googling your industry. Narrow it down to those which best describes your service, and you can reasonably gain prominence on search engines. For example, I’m an expert at helping businesses increase revenue. Go to LinkedIn and search ‘revenue’. You’ll find the IRS. Do people use the term ‘revenue’ to find my business or do they think ‘sales’? Which words work best for your business?
2. Review and update desired client demographics
Make a written list of desired client demographics. To get started include: Gender, age, location, race, education, income, marital status, employment status, job title, employer type, housing, and household income. Customize this list. For example: If you’re selling home inventories, you want people who own homes in an affluent area so the homes are larger and they can afford to pay.
3. Create a plan for LinkedIn lead generation
Review and update your written LinkedIn lead generation plan. Cannot find it? Time to create one with specific goals and metrics. Identify where your desired audience spends time or where they will go to look for your expertise. Use your newly updated demographic list to laser focus on this audience. Now that you’ve found them listen first, then engage. Write down your strategies for engaging, process for researching, marketing funnel, value propositions and goals and metrics at each step. Not sure how to get started? Stand in your clients’ shoes and ask how would you like to be approached? Use LinkedIn for lead generation and the phone to close deals.
4. Identify which type of LinkedIn Account is right for you
Review why you’re on LinkedIn and how you will be using it in the coming year. To review the account types, features and pricing go to the setting page which is under your name on the top right side. Then click on compare account types on which is on the far left side under the account type button. If you’re using LinkedIn for lead generation, or sales take a look at the Business account. In addition to what you get with the Basic free version, features available include: full profile views access to see who’s viewed your profile (a really nice feature if you’re talking to a company and want to see if they are taking the time to check out your profile), five folders to organize notes and profiles, reference search and OpenLink capability.
Do you have a favorite advanced LinkedIn tip to share?
LinkedIn is a terrific and inexpensive tool to help small and large businesses generate profit when used correctly. Are you finding clients using LinkedIn? If not, this article series will be able to help.
Article Source: Advanced LinkedIn Tips: 4 Activities to Do Annually