Social media can be SUCH a powerful tool when it comes to business. Platforms like Facebook and Instagram allow you to become part of your audience’s lives, and Twitter’s a great channel for conversation and customer support.
No matter how wonderful social media is, there’s always a downside – it takes a lot of time to get it right.
If you’re a solo entrepreneur, freelancer or running a small business this ‘social media time’ can quickly eat into the time you’ve set aside for winning new business and servicing client contracts. Social media quickly becomes a ‘nice to have’ and at some point you might consider quitting one or more platforms altogether.
It’s easy for managing your social media channels to become overwhelming, so today I wanted to share four ways you can take back control and simplify your social media.
My number one tip for staying on top of social media is to plan ahead.
Dedicate some time each month – maybe a few hours, or a whole day if you can – to be free to think, plan and strategise your content for your social media (and your blog if you have one). Block out some time in your calendar and live by it – don’t be tempted to move the block to another day or schedule a meeting right in the middle of it. Having a set time to plan out your social media content will make it feel like less of a burden, and you’ll find it easier to move on with the rest of your day or week knowing that you don’t have to suddenly think up ideas for your Facebook page on the fly.
2. Use a scheduling tool
After you’ve thought about what you’re going to share with the world this month you need to find a way to make it happen. The quickest way to stay consistent on social media is to invest in a scheduling or social media management tool.
There are so many scheduling and management tools out there, and deciding on the best one for you is an individual preference a lot of the time. Some have a more comfortable user interface, so if having lots of white space and minimal distractions are a big thing for you I’d recommend SmarterQueue or Buffer over Hootsuite, for example. If you are just starting out, a good place to start is Hootsuite or Buffer. They both have a free version, offering some basic social media scheduling abilities.
3. Set aside some time to manage your social media
Similarly to how you’d plan time for actually planning content, make sure you’re setting aside time in your day to check in and see what’s happening.
Creating dedicated ‘social media’ times during your day or week means you can focus on other activities the rest of the time, without worrying about whether you’ve replied to your Instagram comments yet or not.
In previous roles at work I’ve typically dedicated a 15 minute slot in the morning, around lunch and in the afternoon – but you’d want to tailor this to your business and your audience. It might be that your audience is super active at 7am, so be active then too. I find that having ‘social media breaks’ not only improves your relationship with social media but improves your productivity too – they’re a great rest between more intense work activities like writing a proposal document or designing a website.
4. Hire someone!
If you really are rushed off your feet and your business is thriving, maybe it is time to think about hiring a social media manager or another type of support to sustain your success.
Keeping your social media channels active can become challenging when you’re busy, but often they’re a valuable and integral part of establishing (or growing) your brand with your target audience. It’s that tweet that they smiled at or your response to their comment on Instagram that they’ll remember, and when they’re ready to buy being ‘first in their mind’ is invaluable. Hiring a social media manager (like me!) means that your channels are always active and continually giving opportunities for people to discover you and love what you do.
When it comes to hiring a social media manager there are a few things to think about. Do you want someone solely to post on your social media channels, or do you want someone to engage with others and establish a positive presence? Do you have a budget that matches your wants, needs and expectations? What level of experience are you looking for – someone who’s new to the industry, a confident social media manager, or an expert? What are you looking to achieve?
Having a clear picture of what support you’d like, what level of strategy, and what your budget is can really help you find the right social media manager for you. To give you an example, I specialise in working with business owners who want to create positive, engaging social media experiences for their audience. They’re typically looking for brand awareness, brand loyalty and engagement, over traffic to their website and direct sales (although, by virtue of excelling at the first, these come too!). Outsourcing your social media management is as much about the social media manager as the actual posting and management, so ask for recommendations to find the right person for you.
If you love managing your own social media channels and it’s become one of your favourite parts of your business, you could think about outsourcing some of your other tasks to a virtual assistant (VA). Hate chasing for payments or dreading replying to everything in your inbox? A great VA can handle some of these activities and more, allowing you to spend more time on the areas of your business that you do enjoy.