Social media guilt is rampant in the small business world. We know social media is important, but we just can’t seem to find the resources to leverage it to its full potential. I get it. Regardless of your position, if you work for a small business, you are pressed for time and regular posts and tweets may seem like one more task that is beyond your grasp. Unfortunately, the key to success in social media is a steady stream of interesting, engaging content that fills the needs of potential and current customers, so finding a way to stay sane and still make regular posts is the only way to conquer this demon and make peace with your social media guilt.
My goal for this post is not to motivate sprinting. The tortoise wins the race in social media. In my work with small businesses, I’ve seen hundreds of entrepreneurs and marketers that bite off more than they can chew, only to give up after a few months later because they couldn’t keep the pace.
In contrast, I recently spoke with a marketing director for a local law firm who took a more balanced approach to social marketing. Like most of you, he has limited resources and is responsible for all of the firm’s marketing collateral, including design assets and copy. He told me, very openly, that he initially thought social media was a waste of his marketing dollars and time, until he took a more balanced approach: one giveaway or promotion per month, and Facebook posts every two to three days. Six months later, and the firm receives 15 potential client calls per month from a tracking number posted on its Facebook page. Fifteen calls may not seem like much, but cases are worth an average of $50,000. And that is only the direct return; the firm’s page has also grown from 350 to 3000 fans, and 95 percent of those fans are local—all from a very moderate, but consistent social media strategy.
I am not suggesting that you post only every two or three days. If you post more often, you can accelerate your results.
In creating posts, you can wing it, but this usually translates into inconsistency. You may over-post one day, then neglect your accounts for several days in a row. You may also excessively focus on a narrow range of topics, making your content stale and monotonous. You can largely avoid these problems by creating a simple content calendar, setting up content streams, using a post scheduler and peppering your content with occasional promotions and special events.
Simple Content Calendar
Content calendars can range from simple to complex, but what works for one social media manager may not work for another, as you may want more flexibility or rigidity. With that in mind, try to adapt your content calendar with your personal style.
If you like to keep it simple, I have found that a daily theme works well. If you are shooting for one or two posts per day, you might try something like this:
Big Ideas Sunday – Share expert advice or a short quote.
Humor Monday – Share a comic, humorous image, meme or phrase.
Interaction Tuesday – Ask a question, launch a photo contest or post a fill-in-the-blank sentence.
Current News Wednesday – Share POSITIVE news about your business, your industry or your community.
Giving Back Thursday – Feature customer, launch/share a giveaway or make a coupon or discount available.
Day in the Life Friday – Share candid photos from your business or feature an employee.
Education Saturday – Tell people about your product, what it can do or teach people how to use it better.
Having a general direction for each day makes social media planning relatively easy because it focuses your creativity and helps you know what types of content you need to search for or create.
If you work for the average small business, a sizable portion of your content will be borrowed. There is nothing wrong with borrowed content as long as it is (1) used in moderation, (2) in line with your company tone, (3) relevant to your business or your fans. I have found that setting up several content streams is the simplest way to find content to borrow.
- First, use a news aggregator like Feedly or GroSocial’s content feeds feature to subscribe to several blogs and content sources related to your industry. I’ve also found Swayy is a good option for blog and article content. Many small businesses stop here, but these sources will mostly provide you with links, so for the sake of variety, you will not want to use this as your only source of borrowed content.
- Second, follow influencers, associations, relevant news outlets, and other businesses on Twitter. This will give you more breaking news, and different perspectives than your news aggregator feed.
- Third, create one or two image/graphic streams. From what I’ve seen, Pinterest is the best option for professional-esque images. Sites like Imgur and I Waste So Much Time may work for you, but images from these sites tend to be low quality and not relevant to most businesses.
- Fourth, depending on your industry, consider subscribing to YouTube or Vimeo channels as a source for borrowed video content.
As you find things to post, you can work them into your content calendar.
If you aren’t already using a post scheduler, use one. Instead of interrupting your work on a daily basis, you can take an hour every few days, look through your content streams, and compose and schedule your posts in bulk.
Promotions and Special Events
Regular social posts in an important pillar of social media, but your following may find it stale without an occasional contest, giveaway, offer or special event. The law firm I referenced earlier found that monthly promotions were the main driver in new fan acquisitions. Think of promotions and special events as a way to get more fans, and regular content as a way to keep those fans engaged and interested. The easiest way to run a social promotion is with a Facebook tab created with GroSocial or another tab creator, but you can also run a promotion in your News Feed posts or send people to a form on your website.
Through creating a simple content calendar, setting up content streams, scheduling your posts and adding promotions and special events your social arsenal, you can make your social media efforts more efficient and effective.
If you want to learn more about social media strategies tailored for small businesses, check out grosocial.com.
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