Social media marketing is an ideal way to promote your business. It's free, it's easy, and often, it's fun.
The problem with social media is that it's also overwhelming and unwieldy, and can be difficult to track the results of.
There are many great social media marketing resources that adequately explain the various networks and how to use them. Unfortunately, they don’t do a very good job explaining how to make a daily social media plan incorporating several platforms.
If you’re struggling with social media, here are tips to making a plan that is effective without taking too much time.
Part One: Pre-Planning Your Social Media Strategy
Before you start tweeting and pinning your home business, you need to make sure your profiles are promo-ready, and that you know what results you want from social media. The first step is to visit each of the social networks you use and make sure you’ve:
1) Uploaded an appropriate picture. Unless you make bathing suits or sell travel services in your home business, a picture of you in a bikini at Cancun probably won’t work. Consider your business and audience then choose a photo that fits the image you want to portray. A photo of you will be more appealing than your logo, although you want to consider your brand image and what you want people to remember. Make sure it’s a good quality photo, which doesn’t mean it has to be taken by a professional, but it should have good resolution.
2) Completed the major profile sections. On some sites, you can get away with not filling out everything, such as your favorite movies. But you should complete all the sections that are important to your business. Each platform varies on how much info you can provide, but at the very least you should have your name and business name, website URL, and short bio of your business. If you can add other social networks or important business information, include that as well.
3) Followed influencers in your industry. Social media isn’t just about people following you, it’s about you following others, as well. Start by connecting with people who you admire or enjoy, particularly in your home business industry. Share their top content, and respond to their posts with the purpose of developing a relationship.
4) Integrate social media tools on your website or blog. At a minimum, you should have links to your profiles on every page of your website so that your visitors can follow you, plus social media share buttons so they can share your content with their followers. However, there are many other great tools you can use to save time and increase results. For example, including a “Click to Tweet” option on your posts (you can use this Click to Tweet generator or a WordPress plugin - search your plugin directory) makes it easy for your readers to tweet your content. Integrating Facebook comments on your WordPress blog can increase engagement with your market.
There are a variety of plugins for WordPress that can help you streamline your social media sharing, such as CoSchedule and Social Warfare. If you don't use WordPress, there are many other social media marketing tools you can use depending on your needs and the platforms you use. These tools include Hootsuite, Buffer, Social Oomph, Smarter Queue, and more. If you're focused mostly on Pinterest and Instagram, Tailwind is a good option as well.
5) Decide what results you want from social media. Ultimately, your goal is to have sales or clients, but posting “buy my stuff”or "hire me" all the time doesn’t work and, in fact, will result in losing followers. Instead, think about what you can post that can ultimately lead to sales, such as increasing website traffic or getting email subscribers. Some social media posting goals might be to:
1) Increase readership of your blog.
2) Get more email subscribers.
3) Find more followers across other social media sites (i.e. promoting a Facebook fan page on your Twitter feed).
4) Increase influence (credibility and expertise) with your target market.
5) Built rapport with your target market (i.e. showing you’re fun or friendly).
Every social media post you make should have an end goal result attached to it. So if you post the URL of your most recent blog article, the goal might be to increase readership and influence, and to build rapport.
Part Two: Sharing on Social Media
When it comes to social media, you have two jobs:
- Share stuff to meet your goals above
- Engage with others.
First, we’ll cover sharing.
Sharing Your Content
The challenge in social media sharing is in maximizing your exposure. This is hard because each platform is different. Some limit the number of characters (Twitter) and others involve primarily graphics (Pinterest or Instagram). Here are easy steps to planning your sharing strategy:
1) Decide what you're sharing.
Are you sharing a blog post, email sign up list, giveaway, inspiration, etc. In your planning, you should have a variety of things to share. For example, you can share new blog posts, reshare old posts, promote your newsletter, and cross-promote across social media (i.e. share Pinterest feed on Facebook).
2) Decide how you'll share it.
Will you simply post a text? Are you taking a selfie and adding a text overlay? Is it a video? While text can work, most platforms accept or do best with a graphic. There are many places to find free and low-cost graphics. Once you have the graphic you want to use, you need to edit it for posting.
The difficulty in using graphics is that each network has its own recommended size, and often those change. Resources such as Canva (which offers free and paid graphics as well) or Picmonkey make designing graphics for social media easy. Just select the platform you're wanting a picture for (i.e. Facebook) and the right size template will be provided. Next, add the image and any text you want such as the title of or a quote from your blog post, or an inspirational saying.
If you want to use the same image across platforms, you need to resize them to fit. Canva offers resizing in it's paid service. Or, you can use an image resizer like the one at Sprout Social or Internet Marketing Ninjas, to crop and adjust your images for each network you use.
3) Share your post on your networks at the time of the post.
Get initial eyeballs on your post by getting it online when it's ready.
4) Schedule reposts of content over the next few days.
You don't have to share your content once and then forget as you create new content. Instead, you can repost past content over and over. For example, you might Tweet your various blog quotes with a link to the post once a day over the next three days. After that, you might post it again once a month.
When it comes to posting, watch that you don’t over post to certain networks. For example, you can get away with sending many Tweets (various content, not just your posts) a day, but that doesn’t work well on LinkedIn, in which over posting can annoy your followers.
Guy Kawasaki and Peg Fitzpatrick in their book, The Art of Social Media (get the ebook as the print version doesn’t have URLs to all resources mentioned) recommend casual social media users post to Facebook 1-2 times, Google+ 3-4 times, LinkedIn 1 time, Pinterest 6 times and Twitter 8-12 times a day. These numbers double for hard core users.
Finally, don’t forget to schedule content for your followers on the other side of the world, especially on Twitter so they’re more likely to see it.
5) Make a calendar or other written plan.
Ruth Soukup of Elite Blogging Academy and LivingWellSpendingLess.com, has a color-coded spreadsheet for Pinterest on which she has scheduled what pins are posted to what group boards when. And that's just Pinterest!
Having a social media calendar will help you remember to post as well as know what you should post. There are social media tools that allow you to schedule content. For example, you can set a blog post to be shared once a month over the next six months on any and all your social networks. Some social media tools, such as CoSchedule and Smarter Queue have automated reposting options, so you don't have to reschedule posts manually.
6) Track what works.
Google Analytics and social media tools will tell you what social media posts are achieving results. Further, your analytics will tell you what's popular on your blog or website, so you can schedule social media posts of those pages to keep the traffic up.
Engaging On Social Media
This is the area that many home business owners don’t pay enough attention to, but is crucial to social media success. Posting your content all the time without paying attention to what others are doing is the same as being at a party and only talking about yourself. So along with preparing content to go out, you need to have a plan for commenting, sharing and engaging with others. Here are tips to doing that.
1) Sign up for a social media management tool, such as Hootsuite, that allows you see your feeds in one place, as well as schedule posts.
If you use Hootsuite, add the Hootlet to your toolbar so you can easily share content you find online. Using a social media tool that offers scheduling allows you to share (including ReTweets) content at different times, as opposed to posting everything at once. The other advantage of a tool is that you can follow the people and feeds that you want to engage with, and filter out the noise that distracts you.
2) Pick one or two times a day to do social media engagement.
Plan for 15 to 20 minutes a day total (not including preparing your posts as indicated in the section above). Put a timer on it so you don't end up spending an hour on Pinterest or Facebook. Your goal during this time is to engage with your followers and those you follow.
3) Share 2-3 pieces of content as appropriate for your network.
4) Share 2-3 three social media posts from people you follow (i.e. Twitter retweet, Pinterest Pin, etc).
Sharing other people's content is a great way to get them to share yours.
5) Comment on 2-3 posts from your followers. Become a part of your "friends'" conversation.
Again, this is a great way to increase rapport and the odds that you friends will engage and share with you.
6) Reply to others who share or comment on your posts.
Not responding to comments others make to your posts is rude. It's like ignoring people who are talking to you. Today, people prefer to work with businesses that are responsive, so make sure you respond to your followers.
7) Like other people’s content as you come across items that appeal to you.
The “Like” (Facebook) or “Favorite” (Twitter) and other similar single click engagement doesn’t pack as much punch as sharing or commenting, but it’s still engagement. "Liking" isn't in place of the 2-3 comments suggested above (#5), but in addition to.
8) Repeat daily.
Social media isn't a "set-it-and-forget-it task." You need to post and engage daily. But with a plan, you keep social media from taking too much time and ensure you're getting maximum results.
Should Your Hire a Social Media Assistant?
It is possible to hire a social media assistant to manage all or platforms or specific platforms (i.e. Pinterest Assistant). This can help you save time in prepping graphics and posts of your content, and sharing content from others. However, social media is social and there is an expectation that people are interacting with you. So if you hire an assistant, you still want to share your own thoughts and ideas on occasion, and you absolutely need to engage with others by commenting or responding to comments on your posts.