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
You’ve built (or had built) a shiny new website and you’re excited about getting it out there in front of people who may want to buy your products, avail your services or simply read what you’ve got to say. But after a few weeks or months of it being live, you’ve still had nobody visit it other than the people you’ve promoted it to directly.
Concerned that your website could be missing out on vital organic traffic from Google and other search engines, you decide to look for it yourself using some of the search terms you think it may appear under.
And that’s when it hits you, you can’t find your website for love nor money and apparently, it doesn’t appear in Google anywhere.
There are many reasons why this could happen and you shouldn’t despair because I’m about to give you a few pointers, which will help get your website featuring in Google search results going forward.
Google Webmaster Tools
Search engine spiders crawl the Internet and look for new websites all the time. However, they can sometimes take their time discovering them, so it’s always best to tell Google directly that your new site exists.
The best way to do this is via Google Webmaster Tools (GWT) – a suite of tools designed for webmasters, like you and I. As well as allowing you to inform Google of your website’s existence, it also boasts a plethora of features to help boost your site’s search engine optimisation (SEO).
Here’s what you need to do as a minimum:
1. Go to http://www.google.com/webmasters/tools and login using your Google account. If you don’t already have one then you’ll need to register one.
2. Once logged in you’ll need to add your website. Click ‘Add Site’ and enter the full URL as shown below. Be sure to do this twice: with and without the ‘www’ prefix
3. Now you’ll need to verify your site and prove that you actually own it. You can do this in one of several ways and GWT will give you a recommended method and several alternative methods. They all achieve the same purpose, so choose whichever you feel most comfortable with.
4. Open your newly added and verified site from the main dashboard and down the left hand side look for ‘Crawl’. Under this submenu you’ll see ‘Sitemaps’ and this is where you can submit your own website’s sitemap to Google, so that its spiders know exactly how your site is laid out. My own sitemap was created using a WordPress plugin, but there are many other online resources to help you make one.
Search Engine Optimisation
When the search engine spiders crawl your site they are looking for meta content, keywords and other relevant information, so they can report back to the main Google database what they’ve found. If your site is lacking in any of these then its database entry may not reflect its content or purpose.
While littering your site with keywords is definitely not best practice, it absolutely has to have some. Otherwise, how can you expect Google to rank it in searches? As a rough guideline, try and have your keywords in the title of your page, subheadings and naturally and evenly distributed throughout.
Whatever you do don’t try and shoehorn keywords in where they don’t look right. It’ll not just annoy your readers, but Google won’t appreciate it either. We keep hearing that ‘content is king’ and that’s never been more true than today.
Google doesn’t always discover the latest and greatest content and sometimes has to rely on signals from social media channels, such as Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus. If a particular article or piece of content is getting a lot of attention in terms of shares, likes comments, etc. Google may choose to rank it more favourably.
In a similar vein, content that attracts a high bounce rate i.e. a visitor clicks through to it and then leaves almost immediately may be frowned upon by Google. This is because the visitor obviously didn’t find what they were expecting when they reached the content and so Google may decide that it shouldn’t be ranked so highly for that particular keyword or phrase.
Providing your readers with high-quality content and information, which makes them want to come back again and again, is fundamental for improving your site’s chances of appearing in the Google results pages.
If you hire me to set-up and design your WordPress website, then this step is included, free of charge – get in touch for more information.
Image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
If you follow me on Facebook then you’ll have seen that I have been without Internet for pretty much 2 weeks. We had some bad storms over here in France and last Wednesday Orange.fr told me that my livebox (which is a kind of router) was storm damaged. This was at 5pm on Wednesday evening, the Orange shop in Poitiers (the nearest to me) shut at 7pm. I leapt in my car and drove through the worst storm ever, a 2 hour round trip to get myself a new livebox.
My new livebox worked for about 1 day and then also gave up the ghost. By the time I got to call Orange again it was Friday afternoon and the English helpline is closed all weekend. First thing Monday morning I called them again and I was told the earliest an engineer could get out to me was Friday morning (tomorrow).
I have since been ferrying my lovely iMac around rural France in search of an Internet connection so I could continue to work. I have spent a few days at my mum’s using hers, but it’s not a great connection and with three people using it the speed was seriously slow. So yesterday and today I have driven half an hour and am installed in my friend’s gîte (Longère Louise) which is where my dad recently stayed when he popped over for a visit.
So here I am, and I have found time to write this blog post, I don’t know how.
At first I was pretty stressed without the Internet. All my work is done online, I communicate with all my clients online, much of my work is based around social media, websites and blogs. How I would manage to have no connection until tomorrow was making me feel pretty frustrated.
As the week has gone on, with only having a few hours each day connected I have realised that actually, there is lots I can be doing offline and preparing for when I get my connection back. Some work related, and others not so.
Here is a list of things I have learnt since having a limited Internet connection:
I don’t need to be online 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
The world will not end if I am not constantly online checking my emails, Facebook, Twitter etc… Neither will my clients get angry that I am not available 24/7.
I can still work even though I don’t have internet
I have found that working offline during the mornings has made me a lot more focussed. I have been working on formatting, and preparing emails ready to send when I have a connection. Not only that but I get a lot of the day to day to-do list out of the way before I get online.
I waste a lot of time online each day
I knew this anyway, but not having the connection has made me realise where my time goes each day. Of course much of my work is online, but there are times when I get distracted doing something which isn’t earning me any money. My time in fact could be better used somewhere else, like working offline coming up with strategies for my business for example.
I get a lot more done when I am limited by time
This isn’t the only time I have noticed this. For example when I was having French lessons on a Thursday afternoon I would speed through my work in the morning, and wonder why I was stressing that I wouldn’t have the time to do it. The same goes for this situation, I am getting my work done in the small window that I have and not even feeling under pressure. I have another 2 hours here today and already I am wondering what it is I can get done, as I did most of my work in the first hour I was here.
For my basic working tasks, I don’t need super speedy internet
I always complain about the speed of my Internet, but actually sitting down and thinking about it I don’t need it to be fast to still be able to complete my job. If I want to stream TV and music, then yes, it would be useful, but for work I just need a connection so that I can check and respond to emails and do some work online at a regular pace.
Using something like Asana is paramount to staying organised
If I didn’t use Asana to keep track of my tasks (my own and clients) I would be jumping from one task to the next. Having this in place means I am organised and I can see exactly what needs to be done and which tasks can be put off for another day.
As far as I know I haven’t lost any business by not being online 24/7
All emails are being responded too, just a bit more delayed than usual… and usually I respond pretty quickly! All my clients have been very understanding, and I have continued to keep them updated about the situation so they know when I am online or not. I have set-up an out of office message for my emails to explain that I am checking emails, but I have limited Internet. So far, this hasn’t caused any issues as I have even picked up a few new clients this week.
I have finished reading a book I started months ago
Since I started my own business, my love of reading has been put to one side. This week though during my offline time, I have managed to not only finish proofreading a client book, but I also finished a book I started month’s ago. I’m not sure starting two new books last night was a good idea considering my Internet should be back tomorrow, but I am going to try to not neglect it so much now.
So going forward, I will be having more offline time, I may not even check my emails so much each day… all those blog posts I read telling me to check it less, well I might just try it now I realise it may work out for the better. I may also put in place some restrictions on my Internet connection, so it’s not available at certain times of day, so I can get all those offline jobs done that I sometimes don’t get to.
What I have missed though, is being able to work at home… The poor dog has been passed from pillar to post, and I have lugged my iMac around in my car, really hoping I didn’t drop it in the process. One thing I really really need is a nice new MacBook Pro, it’s my birthday in July if anyone fancies buying me one?
Last weekend I decided to finally get round to looking at Slideshare to see how I could attract some new followers to my blogs and websites. It had been on my list of things to do for some time. I created a presentation entitled ‘Do’s & Dont’s of eBook Formatting‘, I repurposed the blog post of the same name and the presentation ended up receiving quite a bit of traffic. So far I’ve had close to 300 views, and I received emails from Slideshare saying the presentation was ranking high on Facebook and LinkedIn.
“SlideShare is the world’s largest community for sharing presentations. With 60 million monthly visitors and 130 million pageviews, it is amongst the most visited 200 websites in the world. Besides presentations, SlideShare also supports documents, PDFs, videos and webinars.”
Some things that you can do on SlideShare
- Upload presentations publicly or privately
- Download presentations on any topic and reuse or remix
- Embed on blogs, websites, company intranets
- Share on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn
- Zipcast: free, no download, 1 click web meetings
- Leadshare: generate business leads with your presentations, documents, pdfs, videos
- Slidecast: sync mp3 audio with slides to create a webinar
- Embed YouTube videos inside SlideShare presentations
- Use SlideShare PRO for premium features like branded channels, analytics, ad free pages etc
Not only can you do the above, but you can also upload documents, PDF’s in particular. I decided that it would be a good place to upload my free eBook ‘3 Key Benefits of Using a Virtual Assistant’, see below. This particular upload hasn’t attracted the number of views that my other presentation received, but I feel that testing the waters with this has been worthwhile. I think presentations with clear points is the best way of getting views, and this is what I’ll be concentrating on for future presentations.
Slideshare: 3 Key Benefits of Using a Virtual Assistant
Do you have any presentations gathering dust on your computer? Why not have a look and see if any can be updated and improved upon, and then upload them to Slideshare. If you’re an expert in your field, uploading your best presentations to something like Slideshare can only increase your following and who knows get you more leads and ultimately more sales.
Starting next week I will be publishing a series of specific articles on how a virtual assistant can help you save time, money and help you accomplish more. These articles will be on a specific task which a virtual assistant can help you with. I would like your help, please answer this question…
What would be your number one task that you’d love a virtual assistant
to do for you if money were no object?
Please let me know in the comments so I can align my articles to those who would benefit from them most. Thank you in advance!