AAAH Social Media… The invention we love to hate.
Often I’m faced with the same questions from clients regarding their brand and their website. While I may not be an expert in the field, I’m often also asked my opinion regarding their social media more specifically what and when they should posting.
It is the same every time. I will work with a client to design a website for their business. We will map out the pages and we will create a design that suits their brand. However, when talk turns to their marketing streams, the same answers come up. They a have a blog, they have a newsletter, they are on several if not all the social media platforms but feel running a social media campaign is like having a part time job.
While they may thrive with one, the other 2 suck or are non-existent. Many clients have Facebook pages they haven’t posted on in months. They have a blog post from 2015 or a lack lustre newsletter. It is very common and usually it comes down to the same thing. They don’t feel they have the time to stay on top of it.
I generally work with entrepreneurs or more specifically solopreneurs. Even those with a few employees do not have a staff member dedicated to marketing & social media. With limited budgets, outsourcing isn’t always feasible.
So the same quandaries happen. They have no time. They don’t know what to post and frankly it is just more work they don’t want when there are a million of operational things to maintain.
That may very well be, however, another thing in common is that none of these people are happy with the status quo. They want to attract new business and they want to grow their audience. I’m telling you that if you are able to fire all three cylinders, you will achieve a higher level of success and it doesn’t have to be overwhelming.
Clients understand that it is important to have a well-designed, mobile friendly site and a strong brand. However, you can’t have a mentality of if I build it, they will come. It is not enough to create something; you need to tell everyone that it is there.
Yes, there is always face-to-face networking but a big leg of our communications these days is done through social media. So it is best to buckle up & join the ride.
Social Media Audit
First & foremost, y0u need to do a social media audit. Be honest with yourself. Which platforms are working for you & which do you not get any love. It is best to pick 1 or 2 platforms to focus on. (Some experts even suggest just 1 to start with & build from there). The reason being is that it isn’t enough to just post & walk away. Social media works when you are engaging & interacting with those that follow you hence the term ‘Social’. By choosing just 1 or 2 platforms you will be better at the maintenance later on.
Don’t feel that you need to throw out everything else. I love twitter but not for work. I have a personal account so I can follow my reality shows, news and sports on but that doesn’t help my brand so I keep that separate. So don’t feel you need to dump your Pinterest board of favourite recipes just yet. Just asking if the platforms you have chosen are working for your brand or against your brand.
So now that we have cleared the clutter we are left with a few things rather then a daunting list of updates: Blog (if you have one), Newsletter (highly recommended) and 1 or 2 social media platforms.
Now the trick to working with all three of these outlets is to work with them in tandem rather then independently. You do not need to figure out content for your blog, then something else for your newsletter & then again for your social media. In actuality, they should be working to support one another.
Social Media Planning
So the next step in a successful strategy is planning.
Did I hear you groan? Yes, you need to plan. The secret to the simplicity of it all is in the planning. As I heard once in a cheesy movie title “Sugar & Spice”*: A failure to plan is a plan for failure.
No truer words were spoken.
The planning aspect doesn’t have to be a formal white board & calendar exercise unless that floats your boat. It can be getting a coffee and a notebook and sitting down to brainstorm. The fact is for social media to be successful, the strategy needs to work top down.
When we are planning, we are looking at 4 things: The Yearly, Monthly, Weekly & Daily tasks
The goal for the yearly overview is to assign a topic to each month.
Often we decide that it has been far to long since we last blogged so decide that on the weekend we will sit down to write. However, once we have poured that cup of coffee, we find ourselves staring at a blank screen. Far too often we are doing what I like to call responsive writing rather then strategic writing.
If looking at your content strategy a year in advance is too much (and I am in this boat myself), shorten the cycle. Do 6 months or just a quarter. Do not get stuck in a one-month cycle, as you will end up right back at responsive writing.
So brainstorm topics. What can you blog about? Do you need to research any topics? Do a poll? Are you planning a project reveal? Are there any holidays coming up that you may want to involve?
Then I assign a topic to each month. A perfect example of this is an interior decorator that wanted to plan the months of April, May, and June.
April may be the spring-cleaning edition and could be tips & tricks to de-clutter the house. May could be a case study of a home she transformed. June could be ramping up for the summer season with a nod to Canada Day or 4th of July.
My point is you don’t need to look too far to figure out what you want to talk about. The idea is that in this phase you are choosing topics, gathering your notes & assigning months much like a magazine would when it is planning its publication.
And yes, all of your social media and newsletter communications will work in tandem of these topics to it is important to have one that is big enough to allow for a month of chatter.
Now that we have plotted our monthly topics, gathered our notes, research, supporting images we plan when we will release the info. When will you post your blog? When will you send a newsletter? Perhaps you blog weekly, maybe you send a newsletter only quarterly, however, set dates when this will happen & stick to it. Deadlines keep us honest and consistency is key. When you drop off so do your readers.
When ch0osing a date, use best practices to get best engagement. There is argument that the best day to publish for engagement a blog post is Tues or Thurs & that the best newsletter day is a Wednesday.
If your newsletter has different components (like as seen on instagram, monthly news report or whatever), use the feature story area to support your topic.
I find that it is a lot easier for me to find chunks of time sporadically to write my posts/ letters then it is do have a regular ritual. I commend those who can, I wish I was a better person but the only regular thing about me is my sleeping patterns. So with that said, I may take a few days, & bang out a few posts. Either in word or directly into my post (preferable) but I can schedule them for a later date and look like the lady boss on top of her game this way. (This goes for literally everything from posts to newsletters to social media). This way, I’m always working ahead rather in the current time.
This is where the social media really comes into play in that you will outline what social media will be posted & when. To truly maximize this area of your digital marketing is not to just advertise your latest post but to find supporting content that supports the topic of the month. If we look at the decorator again for her month of June, She may start off highlighting her blog post. The next one may be great places to find patio accessories, and another could be a recipe for a summer drink. She may showcase a patio transformation she recently completed (or even better, banked it from earlier in the year). The point is she is staying on point. Showcasing a patio in snowy January isn’t going to inspire many (unless it is the vacation rental issue) but you get my drift.
So find best practices for the platform you have chosen. Facebook may be 1x-2x a week, Instagram may be 2-3x a week and Twitter could be 2x-3x per day. Again, every industry is different and you have already audited to which platform you are going to rock out.
Maintenance is key and what I find to be the easiest portion of the whole strategy. Although you have committed to a strategy that leaves you with more time (honestly, it is just as easy to plan 3 posts as it is 1), you need to check if it is working.
We need to log on, see who follows and follow back. We need comment when others appreciate what we do and more then anything else: assess. What is working? What is not working?
I pay close attention to my Facebook feed & see what gains higher engagement (a key word). I may have to fix an image, use better content or change when I post. All of these metrics help create greater success at the end and doable when I’m focusing on just 1 or 2 platforms.
As well, there is no harm in placing some personality within these posts. If you are at a convention & want to take a photo, do it. If there is a great news article, share it. There is no harm with a few reaction posts (works best on twitter), as long as it stays on brand. You have created a strong well thought out base so if you don’t have anything to show (you were at the cabin for 10 days). That is fine because you took care of it ahead of time.
Your Social Media Strategy should follow the 5 Steps
- Audit: Choose a platform that is working for your brand
- Yearly: Pick topics for each month that you want to cover.
- Monthly: Choose what days you will publish your posts & newsletter (AND STICK TO IT)
- Weekly: Choose which days you will post social media posts (and even when)
- Daily: Maintain: respond & assess what you have put out there.
Essentially, the idea behind planning is that the Social Media will write itself. With help of scheduling tools, you too can be an efficient game buster.