Social Media Time Savers for Business Success

Social Media Time Savers for Business Success

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.

Automation

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 –

  • Hootsuite
  • Buffer
  • Later
  • Tweetdeck
  • VSCO
  • Canva
  • Google Analytics
  • Followerwonk
  • 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!

Top 5 Tips for Effectively Managing Your Daily Task List

Top 5 Tips for Effectively Managing Your Daily Task List

Do you want to be able to realise your full potential in terms of productivity every single day? If so, you’re in the right place, as I’m about to share with you my top 5 tips for managing your daily tasks effectively, which will not only help you focus but inevitably boost your productivity in turn.

You will all undoubtedly have daily routines that you follow rigorously, but that doesn’t mean you can’t leverage at least some of my tips and add them to your current working practices.

So without further ado let’s take a look at how, with my help, you can schedule your days more effectively.

1. Set yourself priorities

When it comes to your daily tasks you have to get into the habit of prioritising. It’s too easy to say that they’re all important and the result can be more destructive than you may think.

By failing to prioritise tasks you run the risk of procrastinating because you simply can’t decide where to start. Write down all of your outstanding tasks and then highlight the ones that HAVE to be done that day. Focus on these before anything else and if you complete them all your day can be considered a success.

2. Focus on your tasks one by one

With your prioritised list of tasks in hand it’s time to start focussing and the key here is one task at a time. You obviously want everything you do to be completed to a high standard and that’s why it’s important to give each task your full attention.

If you find yourself thinking about another task on your list, instead of the one you’re supposed to be focussing on, then you need to ask yourself if that task is actually more important.

3. Set a time limit then review

If you’re one of those people who gives themselves as long as it takes to complete a task then you need to stop. By doing this you’ll actually end up taking longer because you haven’t given yourself any incentive to focus.

A much better approach is to set yourself a time limit for every task and then review your progress when it’s reached. This will serve to act as a subconscious motivator and ultimately Group similar tasks keep you more focussed.

4. Group similar tasks together

By grouping tasks that are similar in nature together you’ll actually find that you’re more productive. This is because your brain isn’t having to constantly refocus and prepare itself to address something new. For example, if you’ve got three blog posts to write then do them consecutively wherever possible.

5. Give yourself a buffer between every task

My final tip for tackling your tasks effectively is to allow your time some breathing space between each one. Stand up and step away from your desk, even if for just five minutes. Your brain needs small breaks throughout the day and by moving directly from one task to the next you’ll find yourself lacking focus and motivation.

If you’ve got any tips or techniques that help you effectively manage your daily tasks I would love to hear them. Leave a comment below and perhaps I can reproduce this list in the future to be my ‘top 10 tips’.

Next week I’ll be giving you the lowdown on tools that can help take your productivity to the next level. Be sure to check back or, even better, sign up to my mailing list to receive my monthly newsletter and never miss an update.

Are you using the right tool for the job?

Are you using the right tool for the job?

Having used many different tools over the last couple of years, I have finally found a few that I really rely on to help me with daily task management, and I thought I would let you know what these are.

I think I have written about all of these individually in the past, so I apologise if I’m repeating myself, but I really can’t say anything bad about these tools.

Social Media Scheduling

I use two scheduling tools for my social media, Hootsuite and Buffer. But I want to talk about Buffer, as they have recently added some new connections which I have been waiting for, for a long time.

One of those is Buffer to Google+, it’s been a long time coming but finally I can now fill up Buffer to post to my business Google+ page. You can read about it on the Buffer blog Introducing Buffer for Google+: The easiest way to post to your Google+ Business Page. The other connection recently introduced was Buffer to LinkedIn company pages, Introducing Buffer for LinkedIn Company pages: The easiest way to keep your LinkedIn page up to date.

With both of these new connections, I can now use Buffer as I have done with Twitter and Facebook for the past couple of years and top it up with great content from all the various blogs I try to keep up with.

I pay for my Buffer package, but it does mean I can have up to 12 accounts connected, which means for my most special clients I can add their social media accounts so they get the benefits of Buffer too!

If you haven’t tried Buffer, I wholeheartedly recommend it.

WordPress Maintenance

When you only have one website, it’s pretty easy to maintain it, cope with the regular plugin updates, and the not so regular WordPress and Theme updates. When you have more than one website, I now have nearly 10 WordPress websites to maintain I needed a quick and easy way of updating them all at the same time.

That’s where ManageWP comes in, I pay for it, but you can get a free version. I just need to login to the ManageWP Dashboard and I can do all the updates with one click. Not only does it do updates, it will also let you delete spam comments with one click across all of your websites, as well as some other cool features.

Many people think that updating themes and plugins can cause your website to crash, and in fact this has actually happened to me in the past, but by not updating these your website could be wide open to security vulnerabilities. When I use ManageWP I can exclude a website to update automatically, I sometimes do this with important client websites, I prefer to do these individually, especially big WordPress updates.

ManageWP saves me an enormous amount of time, and also ensures all my websites are up to date and plugs those security issues.

Task Management

I only wrote a blog post about using Asana last week, so I am not going to repeat myself here. You can read both Asana’s posts here:

Get Organised with this Free Resource
Organise your Clients (or Team) with this Free Resource 

I use Asana on a daily basis, with my own tasks and clients. It keeps me on track with my workload and ensures all my deadlines are met.

So those are my three top tools for keeping me organised, what are yours?
Do you use these tools, what do you think?

 

Social Media Top Tips

Last week I asked you to complete my very short survey Getting to Know You! I’ve had a great response and decided today I would cover a topic many of you asked for in the survey, Social Media help.

It’s a huge topic, Social Media encompasses the entire Internet, not just networks such as Facebook and Twitter. So where do I start? Well I thought I would provide you with my top 5 social media tips, what works for me and how you can incorporate these into your working day.

Choose your Social Media Networks Carefully

You don’t need to be on every single social media network ever invented, you’ll give yourself a heart attack trying to keep up with them all. You need to think carefully what networks your customers/clients are likely to be using, and if you don’t know, then ask them. It’s very easy to email your current customers/clients and find out where they hang out, it will give you a good starting point at least.

You can’t give 100% to more than 2 or 3 networks on a daily basis, well I certainly can’t. So choose 2 or 3 to begin with and see how it works for you, if you’re not having much luck with one of them, swap to another and see if it works better for you. It’s all about testing the water!

If you’re interested, I currently only use 2 social media networks on a daily basis and give them 100%, Facebook and Twitter. I have accounts on other networks which I update from time to time, but it’s impossible to be in all these places at once.

Social Media Management Tools

If you follow my blog on a regular basis you will know that I have tried and tested many different management tools for social media. These tools help you manage your networks in one place, as I only use two networks on a daily basis I can get by using a free service. In fact I only use tools for my Twitter account, and even though I always seem to be testing different tools, I always come back to Pluggio and Buffer to manage my tweets. They do everything I need them to do, I can drip-feed tweets throughout the day, I can schedule tweets and I can keep track of other variables.

You don’t want to choose a complicated tool to manage your social media, I have come across a few which I didn’t even understand. Keep it simple, some of the other tools I have mentioned before are Tweetdeck, Hootsuite, SocialOomph (I still use this too occasionally) and Bottlenose, to name just a few.

Don’t Sell your Products & Services on Social Media

This sounds like a stupid thing to say, but maybe I said it wrong. What I wanted to convey is, don’t barrage your fans/followers with sales messages all the time. It might get you the odd sale, but I bet it will lose you sales in the long run. I hate it when I see someone constantly flogging their stuff on their Facebook page or tweets. A nice mix of updates should have a better effect. I don’t tend to sell my services on Facebook at all, occasionally if I have a new product or service I’ll mention it, but that’s it. On Twitter I have some sales tweets that go out maybe once or twice a day, but most of my content comes from my own blogs or articles I think my fans/followers will appreciate.

By all means update your audience when you have a great deal to offer them, but be careful not to overdo the sales side of things.

Subscribe to Other Blogs

I get most of the content I share from other blogs. I want you to share my posts, so I need to go out and share others. I add many blog feeds to my Google Reader account and then most evenings I will go through the new posts of the day and either add them to Buffer, add them to Pocket for later reading or tweet them out immediately or post them to Facebook.

Reading a good amount of blogs on a regular basis will also give you good ideas, what you could be doing on social media, and more often then not if you start sharing all this great content from someone else, people will be interested to see what you’re all about.

Schedule your Social Media Time

It’s very easy to get carried away online and end up surfing for hours and hours and not actually getting anything done. I still have days like this occasionally, it’s not productive and you feel as if you’ve not achieved anything. So my advice would be to schedule in the time you spend on social media, it doesn’t have to be a long time, and you can schedule it in a couple of times a day. Using the management tools I mentioned above makes things a lot easier. Having a queue of updates in Buffer and SocialOomph for me is a life saver. Even if I don’t manage to get on Facebook all day I know that the scheduled posts will, without me having to be there to press the send button.

You have to be present on social media, you can’t just send out a load of content and expect anything back. You still need to interact with people, network online. This is the work you need to schedule into your day.

As an example, this is how I schedule my day – first thing in the morning I check my Twitter account and respond to any RT’s, messages, mentions since I switched off the night before. It doesn’t take long, sometimes if someone is online I continue a conversation or two, but usually it’s a case of reply and move on to the next. I also like to post on my Facebook page in the mornings, I call it free posting (ie. not using a tool to schedule) – I do sometimes set-up one or two scheduled posts for later that morning (actually in Facebook rather than a tool), but I only ever do these a couple of hours in advance. Throughout the day I have  notifications for Facebook and Twitter on my iMac and iPhone, so if something needs an immediate response I can deal with it there and then. If not, then I leave it until later in the day. I usually spend some more time on social media at lunchtime, and then again just before I switch off my computer.

I use a time tracking application on my iMac, it basically tracks everything I do (I am writing this part before I have even looked at my social media usage today, I hope it’s not horrendous), this gives you an idea of how much time I spend:

Phew not too bad!

So as you can see, hopefully I am pretty present on my social media networks of choice, but on a typical day I will only spend about an hour. Sometimes it might be more, sometimes less, I guess it really depends how much time you have to put into it.

I wish I could have come up with some more tips for you, if you sign up to my mailing list (box on the right) you’ll receive my monthly Social Media Clinic emails where I can answer more specific questions. I don’t post these articles anywhere else, so they are exclusive to my mailing list. 

I hope you will go away and implement some of my suggestions, feel free to comment below on what works best for you.

How was your January?

The last day of January, how did 31 days pass so quickly? It seems like only yesterday that it was 1 January and everyone was talking about goals for 2013.

So, how is everyone getting on with their 2013 goals? I for one have made some progress, but not as much as I would have liked.

This month I have launched my Format your own eBook Template which so far has been selling well. It wasn’t something I had even added to my new products/services list for 2013, it was one of those ideas that spring into your head randomly, and I was very happy it did. I’ve given it an introductory price until my eCourse starts, which will hopefully be in the next couple of weeks.

Which leads me onto another of my goals, working on my business on Friday’s. I try not to do any client work on a Friday, although I have been answering emails if they need a quick response. I do need to communicate with my clients that Friday is a non-working day. So over the last few Friday’s of January I have mainly been working on the eCourse, which I have decided will be free. As well as the eCourse I have been doing things like invoicing, filing and admin for myself, rather than others. It’s nice to have one day per week to concentrate on my things, and not having to squeeze everything into an hour here and there during the week.

Learning new things has also been top of my agenda for some time now, so I have purchased a great eBook about formatting in html/css. I want to be able to design eBooks rather than just formatting them, so I am working my way through this for about an hour each day. Not only will it boost my skill level, it should hopefully put me in a different market where I can earn more for the work I am doing and give my author clients more choice about how they want their eBook to look – I have already learnt how to include audio and video into an eBook!

You may remember in my blog post at the beginning of January, Incredible Goal Setting for 2013 that I have been using Leonie Dawson’s great workbooks. Well I haven’t forgotten about them just yet, and have picked them up numerous times to check that I am headed in the right direction. Tomorrow, as it’s the 1 February I have set aside some time to go through them and write out my calendar for February. The written income goal each month is great, I hit January’s, and really hope that I’ll hit the increase I will be adding to February’s. Just by writing it down doesn’t work though, there are steps you have to take to make it happen…

January wasn’t an easy month, and I am sure for a lot of people January is a real struggle. What with Christmas, and then a 5 week month! With a trip to the vet last week (Hatchi was suspected of eating rat poison) and other expenses through the month, it’s not been easy, but I have made it and the rent will be paid tomorrow… I have a roof over my head for another month! 🙂

One of the things I didn’t manage in January was completing the blog challenge, I found it difficult to come up with blog posts for every day of the month, and also the time needed which took me away from earning that rent money! I have now set-up a new blogging schedule, which I WILL stick to… I will be posting to this blog on a Thursday, and on Monday’s I will be posting to my eBook formatting blog.

I hope the first month of 2013 has been kind to you, see you all in February.