10 Simple Steps for Maximizing Your Social Media Efforts
With more people on social media than ever before, not having an effective social media presence is a huge missed opportunity. Though social media can be time-consuming, these 10 simple steps will help you maximize the time that you are able to spend on social, so that you can ensure you are getting the best return on your efforts.
While in decades gone by, media was consumed through the traditional mediums of print, television and radio, social media has come to dominate the scene. With 3.48 billion people now using social media, it's important for businesses to hop aboard and meet their potential consumers where they are... online!
Suffice to say, not using social media effectively in 2019 is a huge missed opportunity. The benefits of social media range from increasing your brand presence to generating new leads for your business. That said, if you're a small business, having an active social media strategy can be overwhelming. However, with a few small steps, you can ensure you've maximized the effectiveness of your efforts.
With these 10 steps, you'll feel empowered to really hit the ground running with your social media strategy!
1: Get To Know Your Audience
Before you start anything, take the time to consider who your current audience is (if you already have one), and who you want your audience to be (which you could base off of your ideal persona in your business strategy). When you know who you're wanting to reach, you can consider this in the voice that you use in your social posts, the writing tactics you employ to appeal to that audience, as well as the types of content that you share.
If you have existing social media channels, take a moment to look at any data you already have available to you. For example, if you currently have an Instagram Business Account, you can take a look at your insights to see metrics such as male versus female followers, the top age group of your followers, and where they're located. Twitter accounts and Facebook business pages also have similar analytics features.
To get to know my audience more, I frequently open the floor to them for feedback. Empowering your audience in this way, while showing you value their opinion, not only helps you understand them better, but it also shows that you care what they think! It's as simple as writing your captions to be phrased as open-ended questions, or even polling your audience!
For writing this post, I polled my audience on Instagram and Facebook stories in order to assess how they actually feel about a number of points I make throughout this post! I'll share what I found out from them as we go.
2. It's Not All or Nothing
When deciding which social media platforms to sign up for, take the time to strategize. Rather than automatically signing up for every platform, select just ones that make sense for your brand and audience. Also, I recommend you slowly add the channels as you have the capacity to actually manage them. You want to ensure you can dedicate enough time to create frequent delightful content for each.
Instagram: a perfect place to curate your brand's image through its photo sharing platform. Instagram has 1 billion monthly active users and is a perfect avenue for visual content. The main users on Instagram are those aged 13-29, and slightly more women use the platform than men.
Facebook: this channel still remains one of the most popular, and gives you many opportunities to market your brand. Whether it's making your own brand page to develop a community, or running ads to drive traffic to your website, Facebook offers numerous options. It also has a larger age range, with the most popular being 13-49, with a slightly larger female base.
Twitter: most popular with 18-29 year olds, and fairly split between female and male users, this channel is a great way to meet with both B2C and B2B customers.
Of course, these are just the three most popular of the social platforms you may select in your strategy. If you're interested in more detailed demographics on these and other channel's key audiences, I highly recommend you check out this demographic report.
3. Follow The Golden Rule
When you start considering your strategy and the content you'd like to share, I'd recommend following my golden rule on social media: Do not share content that you wouldn't be delighted to see yourself.
How many times have you been on one of your personal social media accounts and seen a post that made you feel bad about yourself, made you feel annoyed, or was just plain uninteresting or important to you? I polled my Instagram followers about what are their social media pet peeves that may make them unfollow an account. The responses:
"Too many 'scripted posts' or too much self promotion."
"Accounts that make me feel bad about myself!"
"Lazy posting just to post & accounts with a lot of extra steps to finally hit the content."
"Posts that are irrelevant to the page. too many ads/ sponsored posts, etc."
Each of these responses touches on that golden rule. Your followers want to feel that there is value to what you share with them, and that you are using social to bring up your followers - not to make them feel worse! Consider the following tips:
Share content that provides value to your clients
Use your platform as a community and encourage dialogue amongst your followers
If you choose to take sponsorships or post ads, ensure you balance those posts with delightful content for your followers
Talk to your followers in a voice that resonates with who they are and why they are on your page
4. Establish A Content Calendar
Now, this may be one of the most important tips I can give you... Content calendar, content calendar, content calendar! The creation of a content calendar simply refers to planning out your content in advance. For me, this takes the form of a multi-page spreadsheet, with a tab for each month, that I plan 1-2 months in advance.
This here is truly a game changer. The benefits of a content calendar:
It allows you to plan your content in a thoughtful way, evenly distributing what type of content and medium you are sharing. For example, you can ensure you don't have too many promotional posts, while breaking them up with delightful, value-added content.
It ensures originality. You can quickly glance back at past calendars to ensure you haven't done the same post before.
It allows you to plan when to repurpose and re-share past content. This is one of the best ways to ensure you are getting the best ROI on a piece of content that you spend a lot of time on!
You can plan around unique holidays! For example, as you can see below, with planning I was able to do a post for 'wear your pjs to work day.' Without planning content ahead of time, this wouldn't have been possible.
5. Be Thoughtful In Your Content
By using your content calendar, you can also begin to be more thoughtful about your content. Write about what you would like to be known for. The best way to begin to organically rank on Google is by writing useful, comprehensive pieces of content, about achievable keywords and topics, that epitomize what you do and want to be known for.
Ensure here that you're thinking quality over quantity. Especially for us entrepreneurs and small-business owners wearing many hats, spending many hours to create one golden piece of content is much more effective than writing tons of content that does not provide real value to your followers. By taking the time to write a comprehensive piece on a rich topic, you are creating content you can continually update and repurpose for years to come. How's that for ROI?
Also, be thoughtful in the content that your followers will want to see. For image-heavy platforms like Instagram, this is a major factor for which accounts one will follow. In fact, I asked my audience what they look for when they decide which accounts to follow, and some of the responses touch on just this:
6. Ensure Proper Grammar and Spelling
Think for social it doesn't matter? It does. The audience I polled on Instagram overwhelmingly agree (92%) that this is something important to them. It is also something that personally really bothers me (I cringe when I look at my past posts and notice a typo, and rapidly fix it).
While of course mistakes happen, there are ways to try to mitigate spelling and grammar errors on the go, including tools that can help. I use Grammarly, which is available as a handy Chrome extension - but other tools work too!
7. Take The Time To Optimize Your Images
Take the time to optimize your images for each platform, by properly cropping and framing them. Each social media platform has a different recommended image size, which can vary quite broadly from platform to platform. It looks much more professional when accounts take the time to individually crop each image uniquely for the platform.
Here are the file sizes I use in my posts:
8. Optimize For Maximum Reach
By following the steps thus far, you may have a beautiful post that you carefully prepared with your audience in mind that you just cannot wait to share on social media. But, if you don't take the time to properly optimize for maximum reach, your post won't do as well as it could have! There are two major ways I want you to start thinking about this: your hashtags, and your posting time.
What keyword research is to Search Engine Optimization is what hashtag research is to Social Media Optimization! Tools like Hashtagify help you generate popular hashtags based on a phrase or term you're looking for, for both Twitter and Instagram. You can also look up a hashtag's popularity right on Twitter or Instagram itself. Aim for hashtags that you actually have a shot at gaining visibility for. Also, ensure you are using hashtags that make sense for the post you are sharing.
You also will want to be strategic on the time of day you are posting on each channel. I tend to use this Hubspot guide for general guidelines on when to post. I also use data from Instagram Insights to see which days and times most of my followers tend to be online.
9. Automate When Appropriate
Automation is becoming more and more prevalent in social media. Automation is a broad reference here, and can mean numerous things. For me, I personally am all for some, and rather leary of others. Ultimately, I think automation should be undertaken with considerations to ensure your audience feels satisfied and delighted with your social media efforts.
Automation that can help you schedule your posts at a glance is something that I am all for. When you're like me and wearing many hats on a given day, it feels reassuring to know your social posts have all been scheduled for the next couple of weeks. I use Hootsuite to do this, but there are other awesome tools on the market that can also help you do this.
However, don't let this stop you from posting more organically too! When topical content comes up, I still post it, and also add to my stories. I also never automate my liking, commenting or retweeting. Any engagement with others' content is natural and organic - which I think is very important when building relationships on social media!
Automation can quickly take the turn from useful to creepy, impersonal or annoying! When I follow someone on social and I am met with an automated 'welcome message,' to be honest, I typically unfollow the person. Why? Because to me, this effort to seem more personal actually does the opposite. In fact, it makes me feel less special than if I'd never received a message at all.
I tested if I was alone in this theory by asking my followers on Instagram (through an Instagram story poll) the following: "An automatic message back from someone you just start to follow on Instagram or Twitter... Love it or dislike it?" 18% said they love it, and 82% said they dislike it. Some food for thought.
10. Always Keep Tracking
Now that you've put all this effort into creating delightful, impactful, effective social media content, you'll want to ensure you're tracking it! Keep your own analytics. I record the following analytics weekly, along with a full monthly report:
My associate brand metrics: I track the weekly content for each of the social accounts I manage to assess what works and what doesn't. This assists me in planning content for these accounts.
My weekly web traffic: here I assess how have my social initiatives actually impacted the traffic? Google Analytics' channel report does a great job of this!
My weekly content metrics: using awesome built-in analytical resources on each of the social channels, I see what posts resonated the most with my followers. One of my favourite metrics here is the Top Tweet you do each month. It's interesting to study over time to assess engagement with your content.
If for no other reason, reporting gives you important ROI data. At the end of the day, reporting can help you make a case for how your social media efforts are generating leads and even sales at your company!
I'm confident that with these 10 steps you'll feel empowered to hit the ground running with your social media strategy! Social media can be time-consuming, but if you're taking these steps to ensure that the time you can spend on it is the most effective, you'll definitely feel more on top of your strategy!
This post was originally posted on Lauren's blog. Click here to read the original post.