Unless your business is social media, chances are it’s probably not how you want to spend your time. Fiona Phillips is on hand to help us cut back the social hours.
There’s no escaping it. Whether you’re a sole trader, or run a multinational, social media is your go-to for:
- being seen
- directing traffic to your website
- building a following
- and yes, making sales too.
But for SMEs in particular, running social media can easily turn into a time-guzzling beastie that distracts you from the work that really matters. So how can you continue to take advantage of the good stuff that social media provides, without it taking over your day.
1. Work out who you’re speaking to
Who is your audience on social media? Whose attention do you want to attract? Who do you want to serve?
Generally, your audience will be your customers or beneficiaries, so your social media posts should engage and provide value for them.
If you’re a wedding photographer, for instance, your clients will generally be couples about to get married, their families, or wedding planners. Do a bit of research and work out what interests them. In this example, content about wedding trends, how to pose for wedding photos or getting the best bang for your buck from suppliers might be of interest.
Next, think about where you’re most likely to catch their eye. Which social media platforms do they use? There’s no point investing lots of time on Facebook if that’s not a platform they use.
Knowing who your audience are, what they’re interested in, and where they hang out will tighten your focus and reduce wasted social hours. It will also help improve the relevance, hopefully generating better engagement for your business.
2. Decide on the purpose of each post
Now that you know your audience better, you can begin to write posts that both provide value to your audience and serve your business. Like a fair and balanced relationship!
Consider what you’re trying to achieve with your post and what you want the reader to do as a result.
Do you want to entertain your audience to raise your visibility? After all, people are more likely to engage with (and buy from) people or businesses that they like.
Do you want to sell your products or services by showing the reader that you understand their problem and how to solve it?
Do you want to get the reader onto your website to read a blog post, campaign page, or sign up for your mailing list?
Knowing why you’re posting provides the direction you need to write without wasting time second-guessing what will work.
3. Set a social media plan
We’ve all done it – that last minute scramble to think up a social media post because you suddenly realise you haven’t posted this week.
Setting up a social media plan takes away that panic and, more importantly, allows you to build a cohesive series of social media posts.
You can plan ahead for the next month, the next quarter, or even the next year. That’s entirely up to you, although it might be useful to factor in a dollop of flexibility. As a business, you never know when a government announcement, development in your industry, or a happy event might set off a new series of posts, blog articles, or a change to the services/products you offer.
Let’s imagine you plan ahead for the first quarter of the year – January, February, and March. For each month consider:
- What is your focus? For instance, do you want to build your mailing list? Are you launching a new service? Do you want to attract new clients?
- What keywords would serve your focus? These are the words, phrases, or sentences that your audience will use in online searches. For instance, the problem that you will solve for them, your job title or service, or the product they want to buy.
- What content will you create, for example, blog posts or videos, that fit in with your monthly focus and that you can post on social media about?
- What is happening out there in the world that would fit with your focus? It might be something as simple as the beginning of a new year, special dates like Valentine’s Day, or events in the news.
You already know who your audience is and which platforms they visit. Do your research on the best days and times to post on that platform, and then decide how frequently you will put out your social media posts.
Consistency over frequency is key to build your audience’s expectation and familiarity with your brand. If you want to post once a day Monday to Friday, or twice a day on Monday, Thursday, and Sunday, that’s fine. Do what suits you, your business, and your time, but keep it consistent.
Break your month down into weeks:
For each week, note down the piece of content you will create, if any, in column 2. In column 3, write the title of each social media post (even if that title is just for you) and the time and date it will be posted, plus the social media platform if you’re using more than one.
Now, all that’s left is to create your content and write your social media posts.
4. Schedule your social media posts
One of the most annoying ways that social media can drain your time is when you have to stop, post on social media (possibly writing the post from scratch), and then find a way to pick up the threads so you can return to whatever you were working on.
Don’t do it. Schedule all of your posts for the week, or even the month, in one go. There’s a whole host of scheduling software and sites available to you, free and/or paid for, including:
What about the social media platforms themselves? Well, you can schedule posts on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter, but you can only schedule Instagram posts if you have a business account. You can schedule your YouTube videos if your account is verified.
Scheduling your posts all in one go avoids having to remember to post and that stop-and-start brainkill.
5. Measure the effectiveness of your posts
My final tip is one that many businesses avoid or put off, measuring the effectiveness of your social media posts.
Here’s the thing: When you know what works and what doesn’t, you can do more of the former and forget the latter.
Effectiveness is less about likes and shares than the number of readers who followed through on the purpose of your post. For instance, how many actually signed up for your mailing list or visited your landing page?
- How many website visitors you have – new and returning
- How long they stay on your website
- The pages they visit
- How they find your website, and
- What time of day most people visit your website.
One of the easiest ways to do this is to use Google Analytics. It’s free and all you need to sign up is a Gmail account.
There are other analytics tools and website plugins available, but you’ll find analytics tools on several of the social media platforms too. On Facebook, it’s called Page Insights. On Twitter, unsurprisingly, it’s called Analytics.
Love or hate it, there is no ignoring the positive impact that posting to social media can have on your business, but it doesn’t have to be a time-drain if you:
- Identify your audience
- Have a clear purpose for each post
- Plan ahead
- Schedule your output
- Find out what works best.
About the Author
I’m a freelance copywriter working with SMEs and specialising in web articles and blog posts. I also provide social media advice to authors, and am a published author myself. I’m based in North Wales but, through the magic of the internet, I can work with clients anywhere.
Fi is a member of the Big Bee Hive, our trusted freelancer crew. Learn more about Fi: