If social media totally overwhelms you, you’re not alone.
When Amy Mitchell and I were writing “Social Media Guide for Small Businesses” we heard from a lot of people who felt they didn’t have time to do social media, so they did nothing. Or worse, they created a business page on Facebook and never posted anything to it.
I get it and I’ll be honest that when I’m procrastinating business planning or I’m in the middle of a few big projects, social media is often the last thing I’m thinking about. Having worked as a social media manager for other businesses, I know it can be a full time job. But, I’ve also learned there are lots of ways to save time and still have a presence.
When I worked as a social media manager (which was just one part of my job), I had time to develop long-term strategies, write and schedule a month’s worth of social media posts and graphics for 3-5 different social channels a month ahead of time. Now, running my own small business, I have many more competing priorities so I have to be smarter about creating efficient and consistent systems.
Social media is just one marketing tool, but it can be a pretty amazing marketing tool if you use it right. In order to do that you have to combine real engagement with soft sales techniques and be strategic without making your audience feel like they’re always being led through your next launch.
Social businesses (by that I mean those serving social causes, not social media businesses) have a real opportunity to use social media to leverage their brand through word-of-mouth. Plus, people are more likely to follow you when they know you’re doing good things in the world.
But how do you do it all when you feel like you’re running on a hamster wheel for 14 hours a day, 6 days a week?
First, you have to stop that hamster wheel for one hour and get real with where you’re going with your business and how you’re going to take your audience along for the journey. It’s time to get strategic and then build a system that works within your capacity. In “Social Media Guide for Small Businesses“, we run you through how to do all of this, but I’m going to outline some main points to get you started here.
The first step is to create a solid strategy. Once a month or every 3 months, sit down and map out what goals you have and activities you’ll be doing for your business. Are you launching a new product or program, or will you be participating in any important events? Use social media to support these activities.
If you don’t already use Asana, Trello, Google Calendar, or some other planning app right now go find one. It will help you immensely! Start locking in what kind of content you need to share each week leading up to activities (and include some follow-up!). For example, if you’re speaking about a new business model you’re working on at an upcoming conference, you’ll want to share content around that topic leading up to and following the event in order to pique interest and provide more information about it.
Within those big strategic topics, your next step is to sort out what content you’ll share when. In the ebook, we call this content buckets and they will help both find shareable content and create original content that relates back to your strategy. Content typically falls into 4 buckets: inspiration, education, entertainment and promotion. These are different ways to engage your audience without whacking them over the head with constant sales copy.
You’ll share a bit from each bucket every week to keep your content dynamic and engaging.
Once you’re done the planning, I recommend spending a few hours every 2 weeks (you’ll get faster at this as you keep doing it) writing, creating graphics or sourcing images, and scheduling your content. Use a tool like Edgar, Buffer, or my personal favourite-Hootsuite-to upload and schedule your content throughout the week. This way you have content that’s spaced out, and as you begin to understand when your audience engages most, you can optimize and schedule your most important stuff when more people will see and read it.
Then measure, rinse, and repeat to keep learning about your audience and how best to serve them through targeted and strategic social media content. Once you get the hang of the system, it should really only take you a couple of hours every 2 weeks. When you’re doing bigger business or marketing planning sessions, social media should be included so that you have a cohesive strategy that directly supports your other efforts.
Don’t worry about being on 5 different social media channels, hiring an expensive social media consultant or graphic designer, and don’t put pressure on your social media efforts to be the only marketing tool you use to grow your business. Start somewhere and grow from there.
And if you’re wondering what social media channels you should be on, I wrote a whole series for you about this:
Get started with 1 or 2 of those, and you’ll be good to go. And, if you want more information about social media management programs, here’s a helpful review of some of my favourites.
“Social Media Guide for Small Businesses” goes into all of this in more detail and clearly outlines the steps you should take to rock your social media without spending all your time on it. It’s only $7.99 on Amazon – that’s way less than spending an hour with a social media consultant trying to figure out the same thing!