Owning or managing all marketing for a small business is hard! Without a large staff (or, let’s be honest, any staff) you probably find yourself pulling long days and fulfilling a variety of roles from janitor to CEO and everything in between.
Previously on the Three Girls blog we’ve covered why social media marketing is so vital for success, and now I want to take an in-depth look at how you can fit managing a social network or two into your already overflowing days – even if you’re starting from square one.
Building Your Social Network Quickly
If you’re starting from scratch, posting on social media can feel like yelling into the Grand Canyon. Is anyone out there? Fortunately, building an audience doesn’t take long with the right strategy. Here are some quick insights to get you started.
Choose Your Social Network Wisely
Don’t spread yourself too thin by trying to maintain a presence on every social media platform. Like Ron Swanson from the show Parks & Rec says, “Never half-ass two things. Whole-ass one thing.” It’s much better to have a strong presence concentrated on one or two sites where your core constituencies exist than seem noncommittal on four or five.
If you have a hard time deciding, take a look at what your competitors are doing. Pick a few that you consider successful, and examine the kind of content they are sharing, how often they’re sharing it, and whether people are engaging with it. What works for your competitors will likely work for you. More importantly, what doesn’t work for them probably won’t work for you either.
Perfect Your Presence
Consistency is key with your online presence, especially if you are maintaining accounts on multiple platforms. Even though the platforms may be visually different, your brand should “feel” the same across your social network. This makes your profiles easy to recognize and gives them the desired professional appearance. A few things all your profiles should include:
- A recognizable username, preferably identical across all platforms.
- A recognizable profile photo. You can’t go wrong with the company logo!
- A brief description of your company, packed with relevant industry keywords.
- A trackable link that directs visitors to your website.
Curate Your Content
Make sure that your presence is actually worth following. If you have a good understanding of your audience, it shouldn’t be hard to tell which types of content they will find engaging.
Following the 80/20 rule will help keep them engaged. That means 80 percent (or one in every five) of your social network posts should be entertaining and interesting to your audience but not directly about your brand. These can include images, videos, articles, quotes and more that can be easily enjoyed and shared. The other 20 percent can be self-promotional like special offers, discounts, blog promotions and anything that links back to your website.
Sharing interesting links as you find them is a recipe for inconsistency. You may have a day when you’re too busy to peruse the internet, and your social media accounts go without new content. If it happens regularly, any engagement momentum you have built up will start to slow down. Less engagement means the algorithms for that social media platform will start replacing your content with other things in your audience’s main feed.
On the other hand, you don’t want to post so often that your audience finds your presence overwhelming and annoying. A good target is once or twice a day, every day. Take the time to seek out interesting content for your profiles, and build a file that you can pull from and add to whenever needed.
To help with this, consider using a social network management tool like Buffer or Hootsuite which can help you schedule content days, weeks, or even months in advance. That way you can make sure your profiles are remaining active even when you are on vacation or enjoying the holidays.
Promote, Promote, Promote
Once your social network presence has been optimized, don’t let your efforts go to waste! To give your profiles their initial base of followers, reach out to your personal network of friends, families and co-workers and ask them to connect by liking, following, sharing and commenting.
Hold a contest or giveaway, using the “share to win” method on platforms like Facebook and Twitter. This will get your content in front of more people, earning impressions and followers in return.
If you have accounts on multiple social media platforms, use them to cross promote! Invite your followers on one platform to find you on the others, and make sure you include the links in your
Don’t Spend Cash On Clicks
Whatever you do, never pay money for more followers. Here are five reasons why falsely inflating your numbers will hurt your brand from Canadian digital marketing agency Tree Frog.
This is not your real audience.
These followers are not your customers or clients, if they are even real people. They will not be spending money on your products or services and they will not be engaging with your content. The goal of your social network’s presence should not be to have the biggest following; it should be to connect with your customers regularly so that you are top of mind for them.
Your engagement will decrease.
Adding followers that don’t interact with your account results in your overall engagement rate decreasing. On some platforms, like Facebook and Instagram, this will work against you. Having a low engagement rate tells social platforms’ algorithms that your followers aren’t interested in your posts. This means the chances of your posts appearing organically into your followers’ news feeds will decrease.
You become a platform for spam.
Once you start incorporating fake followers into your community, those fake followers can target your genuine customers with their own spam. If your brand becomes known for spamming followers with irrelevant nonsense, you will begin to lose your real and genuine followers.
Your reputation gets jeopardized.
Your online reputation is everything, and one of the pillars of a great brand is transparency. Being discovered for buying fake followers can be humiliating for your brand and can result in your real customers losing trust in you.
It goes against the terms of conditions.
Buying followers is against the terms of service of almost every major social media network. These companies have strong policies against ‘fake followers’ and will actively delete or ban accounts that use services to buy fake followers and likes.
Managing Your Social Network With Minimal Time Investment
Have you ever sat down with the intention of spending “only” a few minutes on Facebook or Twitter, only realize an hour has gone by in a blink? It’s easy to get sucked in and spend all day scrolling through various platforms, but you have other priorities besides promotion. Fortunately, there are plenty of resources out there to help you balance your workload.
Let The Content Come To You
One of the most time-consuming parts of generating content for your social media platforms is finding it! No matter what your market, there are likely countless writers submitting countless articles to countless websites – how can you sort through the noise and find the pieces that are right for your business?
I recommend casting a wide net and narrowing down your catch as you go. Experiment with an RSS feed reader, which collects the latest updates from online magazines, news sites, blogs, agencies and more, and puts them all in a single location for you to read through. Subscribing to newsletters and setting up Google alerts for topics of interest are also great ways to bring content to you, instead of hunting it down.
Having that much potential content in a single area means you can find a week’s worth of posts in no time at all, and easily weed out the sources that don’t fit what you’re looking for.
Set It And Forget It (But Not Entirely)
Once you have the content for your posts picked out, take a few minutes to upload them all at once into a social media manager like Hootsuite, Buffer, Sprout Social or any of the many others out there. Most of these platforms have a free version or offer a free 30-day trial of their paid services, so don’t be afraid to try different options until you find the one that feels right for your workflow.
Not only will a social media manager allow you to schedule your content in advance (sometimes months in advance), but after a few weeks the analytics they collect should help you narrow down which posts perform best based on their content and the time of day they are posted.
Building all your posts in advance can prevent you from forgetting to populate your accounts, and (if you’re anything like me) keep you from getting distracted by your personal social networks every time you log in.
Just don’t forget to check in every now and then to…
Engagement can be done any time you find yourself with a few free minutes during the day. For this, your smart phone is your best friend. While using a social media manager is great for distributing the initial posts, make sure you have the individual social platform’s apps available for engagement.
By installing the apps on your phone, you can customize your notifications to know exactly how many people are responding to your posts and in what ways. You’ll never miss a question or comment – and if the numbers are rising quickly, you have a real-time indication that something may need your attention sooner rather than later.
The best practice is to check in on your social network at least once every 24 hours, but if you want to step away completely for a weekend or holiday there are tools out there that let you set up an auto-response to direct, private messages. It’s not recommended for every day use, but it can help your audience feel like the lights are still on when you’re away for a few days.