Surely you’ve heard that social media is the way to market your business and connect with your audience. All that trust-building and personal communication that can help your brand’s image and influence. Too bad you don’t have any time for that.
Yep, I get it: I run social media accounts all day every day—with two other people. Social media is a time-intensive proposition, but even if you’re not “into social” or it just takes too much time, there are plenty of ways to make your social media efforts easier while still allowing you to harness its benefits.
But why should I?
You might be running a business that has already been successful with zero to sporadic use of social media, and that’s so awesome. But if you’re still reading, you’re probably thinking about expanding your social media use but you’re not sure how or you’re not yet totally committed to the time it takes (though it may be less time than you think).
Here’s how social media can help you: It helps you build loyalty and trust with your customers and followers. And since people expect to be able to get in contact with companies easily and quickly, social media can serve as an extension of your customer service. If you have a visual product, social media is an especially excellent marketing channel. You can also show thought leadership in your space and finally, you can become a resource for your customers without just trying to sell to them.
So there are a lot of ways social media can benefit your business without costing you a lot of time and productivity. Here’s how.
Do you know which platforms do what? Are you up hip to what LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, Google+, Twitter or Facebook have to offer and who they cater to? First, you must truly understand what different social channels offer, how they work, and which platform lends itself best to your audience. Get started by asking these questions:
- What is the majority gender and age range of my target market?
- Is my product or service one that markets well through visuals?
- What type of content do I create?
- Where does my target market seek out information?
- What types of content does my audience consume?
Depending on how you answer these questions you’ll be able to determine which platform will work best for you. For instance, if you create long-form blog content and your target market is women ages 18-50, your time would be well spent on Pinterest. This fact sheet from Pew breaks down the demographics of social media users across platforms, which will help you determine the best platforms for reaching your audience.
If you educate yourself now, even if you’re not at the beginning of your social journey, you’ll save yourself time in the long run by not wasting efforts on platforms that don’t fit your needs.If you need a primer about what each platform does and how to best leverage them, look into resources like Social Media Examiner, Entrepreneur, and Social Media Today.
Social media posting 101
Make social media a habit
If social isn’t your thing then it probably isn’t part of your every day schedule. So stop using “I just don’t think about it” or “I don’t have time” as your excuse! Set an alarm or block off time on your calendar – even just 15 minutes a day – to dedicate to social media. This is the easiest way to create the habit to post, and once it’s a habit it will come more naturally and quickly to you.
Use all the social media tools
You don’t have to be constantly connected to seem constantly connected. If you leverage other people’s content, use a tool that will quickly curate content so you don’t have to search high and low for interesting, relevant pieces. To save even more time, schedule your posts on a weekly or even monthly basis with tools likeHootsuite, Buffer, or Sprout Social.
Don’t forget that though these tools can help you spend less time on social media, you still have to connect periodically to monitor customer engagement and respond to issues or complaints.
Authenticity and transparency
One of the hardest things to do when managing social media channels is to create interesting, click-worthy posts. To do this, you don’t actually have to be clever; just remember to be authentic and concise.
Social is all about customers creating trust with a company, and they hate feeling deceived or misdirected. So give them exactly what they want. Celebrate your wins, share behind-the-scenes information such as new products in the making or what your desk looks like.
Be candid and don’t be afraid to tell them the bad stuff, like if your site is down or you’re shutting down one of your locations. Customers would rather hear the good, bad and ugly from you than figure it out on their own or feel lied to.
Another way to post awesome copy quickly is to rely on intriguing headlines that you can copy and paste, especially on platforms like Twitter and Pinterest, where a title and description aren’t auto-generated. Users want you to shoot straight, so don’t dance around the topic; just tell them what they’ll be clicking on if you share a link.
Saying what you mean and getting to the point will save the time you sit thinking about how to think out of the box, but open communication will also save you time because it will help you prevent having to deal with followers who might be frustrated at lack of transparency or opaque jargon.
Growing your follower base
One thing to realize is that if you’re not an A-list celebrity, social media is not an “If you build it they will come” situation. Once you dedicate yourself to a platform, you’ll have to actively grow your following. Luckily, you can still do this in the short portion of time you section off for social media every day.
The first step is to be active. Connect with, tag, and converse with people who follow your competitors; who are your customers, suppliers, or partners; and who are in your industry. Think of finding followers like in-person networking: if you sit by yourself at a table in the back, you might connect with one or two people who feel a little sorry for you. But if you get up an introduce yourself, you’ll get more in the quality and quantity of your connections.
While you want a follower base, don’t stress yourself out about it too much. You probably won’t get 10,000 followers in your first day. Instead, make it a goal to follow or connect with ten new people on your platform every day.
And don’t even think about buying followers – it’s not worth it and it won’t save you time in the long run. Not only are most of those purchased followers robots, but they’re not your target audience, and having them follow you won’t do you any good, it’ll just waste your time.
But wait, there’s more: Images
Social media is headed into an era of visual content. Images and video are more important than ever when sharing posts, which unfortunately means you have one more thing to worry about.
However, tools like Canva make it easy for you to learn how to create beautiful images in minutes. If you’d rather not create and you just want fun images to attach to your content or posts, search for free stock images. Choose the option that works best for you, just don’t over look the power and importance of images.
If you aren’t familiar with social media or haven’t mastered it quite yet, taking on too many social channels at once will yourself up for failure. Pick the platform you think will be most effective for your audience and start there. When you have one truly mastered, move on to conquer the next best platform. With social, slow and steady often wins the race – unless you go viral, and if that happens, kudos to you for randomly making it happen.
Social media is definitely a beast you need to feed every day, but if you use the right tools, you can tame it to make it work for you.