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!

What Should Your Social Media Manager Be Doing for You?

What Should Your Social Media Manager Be Doing for You?

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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.

1. Strategy

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

Save Time and Improve Your Twitter Strategy

Save Time and Improve Your Twitter Strategy

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:

Tweriod

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.

Fan Page Robot

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.

TwitHawk

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

7 Smartphone Apps That You Shouldn’t Leave Home Without

7 Smartphone Apps That You Shouldn’t Leave Home Without

Social Media AppsAs a professional virtual assistant, I’m all about boosting productivity and improving efficiency. But when it comes to managing day-to-day tasks, communicating effectively and keeping my finger on the digital pulse, few devices afford me more productivity gains and efficiency hikes than my trusty iPhone.

But don’t think I’m about to start singing the praises of my iPhone – I’m not. While it’s been great, this post is all about the benefits of smartphones in general and in particular, how pivotal they can be when we’re ‘on the go’.

If you’ve been following my blog for a while then you’ll already know some of my top productivity tools. And while the following list focuses solely on the apps I use on my iPhone, there are a couple which crossover to my iMac too.

Mail

Okay, so first up, quite predictably, is email. Being able to receive, read and reply to my business emails right from my smartphone is absolutely fundamental. It means that I can immediately check if a message requires an urgent response and send one accordingly.

If I don’t have time to type something verbose on my phone or the email requires a more in-depth reply later, then I can send a brief message in the meantime simply acknowledging receipt. This keeps my clients informed and their minds at ease.

Asana

Everything I have to do on a daily basis is recorded in Asana. And the fact that there is an associated mobile app boosts my efficiency no end.

Asana enables me to keep track of every task and stay up-to-date with progress from my team members. The mobile version allows me to create new tasks as they come to mind and update existing ones with further info if needed.

Facebook Pages Manager

While the regular Facebook app for smartphones is great for personal profiles, the Facebook Pages Manager is indispensable for anyone who administers a business page – like mine!

Not only can you see notifications as they happen, but you can also garner valuable insights from the analytical data that’s available. Moreover, you can administer several pages all from one app. It really is a versatile solution for keeping abreast of your public pages while on the move.

Buffer

Buffer is the epitome of productivity and efficiency and the fact that I can access it from my smartphone, makes it even better. Literally, from the palm of my hand, I have a complete overview of all my social networks.

I can schedule updates to be posted as I think of them and also check how my previous posts have performed with the built in analytics. It even boasts Buffer’s URL shortening capability, so I can paste web links and they automatically get reduced as they’re posted.

Dropbox/Google Drive

I use both Dropbox and Google Drive. They’re intrinsically the same and mean that I have access to all my crucial files and documents no matter where I am.

While I don’t tend to create new documents and type for hours on my iPhone, having access to my crucial files means I can send them to clients and check them ad hoc if required. The fact that everything syncs up automatically with the cloud in the background, means that I never have to worry about manually copying my data.

XE Currency

I live in France and have clients all over the world, so keeping track of foreign exchange rates is something that’s pretty fundamental to my business. The XE Currency app allows me to see right from my phone the current market rates. It automatically refreshes and also features a calculator for converting currencies quickly.

Furthermore, you can setup numerous different foreign currencies and see the exchange rate quickly and efficiently across them all.

Twitter

Much like I use the Facebook Pages Manager for my business page, I use Twitter to keep track of my tweets. While Buffer has a lot of great features, there are times when the official app still gets the nod.

It has a familiar interface, works flawlessly and offers the full range of Twitter features that I need. That’s why it still retains a place on my phone, even when there are other applications that purport to do the same.

So that’s seven smartphone applications that I utilise while I’m ‘on the go’. It could have been a longer list, but these were the ones I felt I used most often while not in front of my computer.

Are there any smartphone apps that you couldn’t live without? I’d love to hear your comments below.

Which Social Network Is Right for You and Your Business?

Which Social Network Is Right for You and Your Business?

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.

Facebook

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.

Twitter

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.

Google+

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

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.

Final Thoughts

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.