How to Effectively Use Social Media without Losing your Sanity or your Soul
If I could write a little note to Social Media, it would be this:
“Social Media, I have a love-hate relationship with you. On the one hand you provide me with so many opportunities to reach out and connect with people, and for people to discover my blog and business. But on the other hand, well, you can be a little bit of a time-suck. You can also at times be discouraging when I see how much better others are doing than me. Or you can be overwhelming with the massive list of things other people say I should be doing to get more out of you. But then once again, you’ll connect with someone on a deeper level, someone I would never meet otherwise. Or I’ll see a little bump in website visitors and you’ll win me over again. So I guess I’ll stick to it and see where you take me.”
Does anyone else feel this way? From what I hear when talking with small businesses, I am not. Almost every second question is around getting more followers or getting people to visit your website or what should I post?
Even as a Marketer I find social media to be exhausting and exhilarating – sometimes in the same hour! So I’ve been on a mission lately to delve deeper into making social media something that is more meaningful AND more manageable. So far, this is what I have found. And apologies in advance, this kind of turned into a bit of an Epic Post!
If you love this post and want to know more, well you’re in luck. This is just the beginning of a big series: “Get Social Media Savvy”. Sign up here to get alerted of each new post as it comes and to receive a worksheet each week. This week it begins with “5 Questions to Ask Yourself when It Comes to Your Social Media”.
DISCOVERY #1: IT’S THE NUMBER OF SUPPORTERS YOU HAVE THAT COUNTS (NOT FOLLOWERS)
Anyone can get “followers” on Social Media if they know where to look, but for most small businesses it is not the follower count that gets sales in the door. It is the connection you make with people. People buy off people and businesses they like – it’s that simple. And people are more inclined to like you if you have taken to the time to support them, to answer their questions and to get to know them.
In fact, isn’t that the most wonderful thing about small business? The fact that you can be a part of a brilliant community of like-minded people and have access to brilliant products & services that you know come from the heart. That sounds like something I want to be a part of.
DISCOVERY #2: DON’T COMPARE YOURSELF TO OTHERS
To pull a quote from Theodore Roosevelt “Comparison is the Thief of Joy.”
I’ll be the first to admit, I do this ALL the time! Why can’t I have 1000 followers on my Instagram within a month of launching like this blogger says they were able to do? I’m a marketer after all, I should be able to do this!
The truth is you don’t know the story of those you are comparing yourselves with. They could have been in business 10 years and have done the real hard yards to get where they are. They might of just “hit” that platform at the right time when the algorithm’s supported their way of posting. They might have had another launching pad to work from. Or they might just have that something special, and if so, YAY for them!
But there is another thing to consider too – people buy followers. You see it all the time, especially in Instagram. You know the ones. The ones where you get all excited because you got a new follower and you click on them and they only have the 9 posts of very generic stuff yet somehow have managed to get 1000s of followers. Or the ones that comment and like your pictures with “Nice!!” or “Great Post!!”.
The same goes for likes too. A business friend of mine from Small Biz Shout did a recent experiment on Instagram using a whole range of “Like” apps you can download to your phone (on a brand new test account). Within 24 hours she got 400 likes and 100 followers from a generic quote picture. You can read more about here experiment here.
So please don’t compare, especially based around numbers. For sure, get some inspiration on how you can improve what you are posting. But stick to what fits for you and your business. “You do you, boo boo”.
This leads to Discovery #3…
DISCOVERY #3: KNOW YOUR BRAND & SHOW IT
Every business should have a “Brand”. And whenever I talk about a brand I don’t just mean your logo and images. I mean the feeling people have when they encounter your business. What makes them what to know more? What makes you, you?
If you haven’t gone through the exercise of trying to figure this out, do it! Not only will it make decisions easier about what you should and shouldn’t post, but it also gives you a clear vision to come back to.
For your imagery, create a “Brand Board”. This is a collection of your brand colours (complete with colour codes), your fonts and any other style pointers. Then whenever you create something, refer to this so it all just “fits”.
Consistency is key here. Brands aren’t built overnight but over time.
I go into this into a lot more detail in my post “10 Steps to DIY your Brand.” So check that out if you want to learn more.
DISCOVERY #4: FOCUS ON ONE FIRST AND DO IT WELL
Oh, wouldn’t it be nice to be able to be everywhere at once and still get the audience and the engagement? A girl can dream right.
If you are truly dedicated to building a community around your small business, it takes hard work. It takes time spent talking with lots of people. It takes time to figure out what is working and what to do more of. It takes time to find the right people.
By all means set yourself up on all the key platforms, to secure your name and to give people the option of finding you. But focus on growth and the culture of one to start and once you get the hang of it and see momentum, add in another.
So which should you focus on first? I think this comes down to 3 things:
1. Where does your Target Market hang out?
2. Where do you feel Comfortable?
3. What type of media fits best with your Business?
As a rough guide, here are the recommendations for the Big 4:
Twitter – Great for informational businesses and/or those that have a lot of content and/or a blog. This gives you lots to post and a great “expert” perception.
Facebook – Reaches a big audience and lots of demographics. Suits both informational and visual content but photos and videos perform better. However, the real power is in Groups as Business Pages are seeing less and less love with Facebooks focus on “family & friends” (and getting you to pay for advertising).
Instagram – Purely visual and works brilliantly for products but a lot of service based businesses get good traction too. Your profile gives a great impression of your brand in one glance. There’s also a lot of great opportunities for collaboration.
Pinterest – Visual like Instagram but with a culture of Information behind it, which results in more click-throughs. Great for new businesses as their home board always comprises of pins someone might like along with posts of those they are following. The use of boards also allows people to browse as if they were in a store.
Over the coming weeks I’ll be doing a deeper dive into each of the above platforms, so be sure to stay tuned for that!
Side Note: If you are interested in learning more about who is in what platform based on demographics you can find a wealth of information from Smart Insight’s 2016 Global Social Media Research.
Just because you focus on one as your “home base” doesn’t mean you don’t do anything on the other platforms. With the modern automation tools, it is easy to share the same content to the other platforms. More on that in the next discovery…
DISCOVERY #5: BATCH, SCHEDULE & AUTOMATE
Social Media is so much more manageable when you can do as much of it as you can in one hit. My week always goes so much smoother when I have taken the time to spend an hour or two preparing my social media content for the week. A) Because it all gets done when you are in that frame of mind and B) I don’t have an excuse that I have to get onto social media to get my post up and then happen to get distracted by all the sparkly wonderful stuff.
So for your images I recommend doing a big search of stock photo sites in one hit and saving them to your computer. Or even better, take the time to do a big photo shoot of your products or things that represent your service.
Next, batch create all the images you want to use for the week – tailored for your focus platform. Canva is what I use for this. And it’s so easy.
Then schedule them with their captions using one of the many tools out there. Personally, I use a combination of Hootsuite (Free Package) for Facebook & Twitter, Grum (Paid) for Instagram and Tailwind (Paid) for Pinterest. But there are other options like Buffer, Later.com and many more which you could use.
On my busier weeks sometimes I’ll just schedule my Instagram posts (my primary platform) and then on-share to Facebook and Twitter using their in-built features.
Another little trick I use for my blog is those social media sharing buttons you see at the bottom of each post. Not only do I hope that others share, but I just use these as soon as I post to put my content out there.
DISCOVERY #6: MAKE IT EASY FOR PEOPLE TO FIND YOU
This goes without saying, but sometimes people miss some crucial opportunities:
- Website Links: Make sure you have links to all of your social media accounts, in one or more prominent locations like the header menu or in your side bar.
- Email Footers: Both your official business email address and your email manager (e.g. MailChimp or ConvertKit).
- Facebook Personal Profile: Update it to include your business and make this public. That way when you participate in group discussions, if someone wants to check your business out they can click on your personal profile and easily click through to your business.
Finally, Don’t be scared to ask people to follow you! Participate in follow threads in Facebook Groups, announce in one platform that you are on another and even when you send out some products to customers include a little card asking them to share and tag you.
DISCOVERY #7: BE HELPFUL
Being helpful on Social Media has been my number one tool for building my network. Yes, it is hard work sometimes but you get so much more back, it is great for research and it helps to clarify what you are offering.
There is a heap of ways to be helpful on social media. Here are some ideas:
- Participate in Facebook Group Pages: If someone asks a question you know the answer to or you know you can help with, Answer (without trying to plug your service). If someone just wants general feedback on something give it to them. If someone is sharing a win, give them a congrats.
- Offer your Advice or Ask Questions: If you have a little time one day offer your help or advice on a certain topic, no pressure implied. You’ll be amazed at how many people respond to this.
- Share the Love: If you get your hands on someone’s product, if you love it, tell people! Take a photo or include it in a flat lay and make sure you tag it when you share.
- Go the extra Step: If you participate in like for like threads, like and comment. For comment swaps, comment and share. Go above what everyone else is doing – people are so appreciative of it.
Finally, try to talk to people by name (if it’s easy to find – you don’t want to come off as creepy!). This makes it more personal and shows them you have taken the time to get to know them.
DISCOVERY #8: DON’T BE SCARED TO ASK
A new discovery for me as I am someone who would go a long way out of my way to figure something out for myself to avoid asking someone else. Maybe this harks back to my high school fears of rejection, who knows! But as part of starting this business, I had to tell myself to be vulnerable. And a big part of this is asking people for help.
This could be in the form of asking questions for research or it could be a product swap or asking if they’ll guest post. Most people are more than happy to help as long as it comes from a genuine place and you are willing to reciprocate.
By doing so, you will begin to open up more and more networks. All the better for your growth.
DISCOVERY #9: BE CONSISTENT
Unfortunately, social media is one of those things that you need to show up for almost every day – at a minimum via schedulers and replying to comments. This makes it difficult sometimes to manage. And while a day off here and there certainly won’t kill you (and comes recommended on occasion!), it is important to remain consistent in posting often.
I discovered this most recently with my Pinterest account. I had heard all these wonderful stories about how Pinterest is the best tool for getting traffic to your blog posts. So I thought it was worth a try. So I signed up for Tailwind, joined Group Boards and started pinning. But it was time consuming, a couple of hours a week if I was to do it right. After a month or so of this, I felt like it was too much but I thought I’d have one more go. And to my surprise that week something hit… all of a sudden 34% of my website traffic was coming from Pinterest and not on the most recent pins but ones I had pinned a few couple of weeks ago.
More on this to follow in my Pinterest post in a couple of weeks!
So the lesson is, just because it doesn’t work from day one, doesn’t mean it won’t. Stay the course and you might just be rewarded for it.
DISCOVERY #10: KNOW YOUR NUMBERS & TRACK YOUR WINS!!
Finally, I’ll round this out with a point on tracking your successes. You want to do this for two main reasons: For encouragement when you feel like you aren’t getting anywhere and so you know what’s working best.
There are a few key things you want to track for each account, at least on a month by month basis:
- The Number of Followers you Have
- The Number of Clicks onto your Website
- The Value of Sales or Number of Conversions (e.g. Email Signups)
- Most Popular Posts (by Likes & Visits)
You’ll be able to get all of this information using a combination of your social media account and Google Analytics.
In addition to this, you might find it useful to track any specific promotion you do so you can see if it’s worth doing again. This could be as simple as participating in a Facebook Promo thread and writing down your website visits before and after. Note the difference and determine if it’s worth you participating in again or if your time is better spent elsewhere. Compare this with how much time you needed to spend reciprocating on that thread.
So there you have it. An EPIC post on all key discoveries I have made about social media. And this is just the beginning! Over the coming weeks I’ll be delving deeper into each of the Big 4 Social Platforms and maybe another couple of surprises along the way.
Along with each post I will be including a worksheet of some kind. Starting this week with “5 Questions to Ask Yourself when It Comes to Your Social Media”.
Click here to get this download and to be sent all the others as soon as they are posted! I’ll also provide access to my Small Business Library so you can see a full range of other helpful resources including the big DIY Branding Cheat Sheet.
What Discoveries have you Made with Social Media? What have you found works for your business? Please tell me about it in the comments below!