I’ve never wanted to lead with talking about social media in my business, despite the fact that social media is so important!
The reason is that a great social media strategy can’t fix a bad or poorly communicated business. I’ve always felt it was most important to start at the root – with a client’s core offerings, defining their audience, clarifying their brand messaging, building their brand, and creating a consistent, sustainable marketing mix that goes with it.
I know that may sound complicated, but I’ve just never liked the idea of putting all my gold in one pot when a social media platform can and will change like a flash of lighting that leaves us all stunned and scrambling. (I mean…have you seen the latest #deletefacebook chants?)
When you build a solid foundation and pay attention to what’s working, across multiple media, it’s like having built-in insurance for your marketing strategy.
Not to mention, it’s really, really easy to burn out on social media as a solo entrepreneur – (who happen to be the bulk of my clients). That’s the last thing I want for anyone who’s out there pursuing their dream.
That being said, social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram are ones marketers still can’t afford to ignore and also bring with them a lot of positive attributes.
SO, how can you manage it effectively? Let’s get to the flour of the cake…
The key to social media in 2018 is engagement.
Sounds simple enough, right? But how do you create said engagement without making yourself batty?
Below, I’m outlining some core components and strategies for keeping your strategy intact and your head above the social tide. These come from hours and hours of research – I’m just bringing you the ‘highlights’ – (in true social media fashion – ha!).
THE SITCH ON SOCIAL MEDIA in 2018
01. Entertain the reader/viewer.
Yes, many of us use social media to learn something or discover new products. BUT, most of us, use social media to unplug, to connect, to laugh…to simply, be entertained.
If your content feels too challenging, it can turn the reader off. If you’re not particularly funny, humor isn’t the only way to entertain!
Stay true to your brand and ask yourself: Would I ‘like’ this?
02. Provide an actionable insight that in some way helps them create a better life or business.
The accounts that grow aren’t the ones that are saying “look at me, look at me”. They’re the ones that are saying “I see you, and this is what I have to offer you.”
If you want to see big growth, think about how you can serve your audience better. Whether it’s through your products or services, make sure you know who you’re talking to and then really listen, don’t just project.
03. Include CTAs and start conversations.
If you went to a big office building for a meeting, you’d expect to be met with a receptionist and guided into what to do or where to go next, right? Then someone would come, lead you down a hallway and into a nice little office for your chat. You’d discuss the matter at hand, mixed with a bit of small talk, trying to find a personal and professional connection that made the business relationship more enjoyable, right?
Then there would be a next step – the physical form of a digital call-to-action. Before leaving, there would be ways of getting involved, buying in, following up, signing a contract – what have you.
It’s not any different in the digital! You have to lead you reader, regardless of the medium. You got them there – where are you taking them next? What do you want them to do? How can they buy your products/services?
Never underestimate the power of a quality call-to-action (CTA).
04. Quality over quantity.
Speaking of quality, you can throw darts into the digital abyss all day long but if you’re not seeing any engagement you may be doing more harm in the long term. Facebook knows there’s an abundance of content. In fact, they’re struggling with where to place it all. That’s, in part, why organic reach is going down.
So, when they see a page/profile getting consistent engagement, they show it more. They reward your good content because the engagement is telling them, “People like this, people want to see this! THIS is the good stuff!”
Less really can be more – especially if it allows you to create content of higher quality. It may actually take more effort to do less, but it’s worth it.
05. If (a) you’re a product-based business owner and (b) at a higher income level, consider targeted ads on social media.
I say ‘if you’re a product-based business owner’ because unless you sell a limited supply of things or handmake everything, there’s no limit to how much you can sell online (pending your inventory).
However, if you’re a service-based business owner (like me!) you will eventually run out of time and hands to do the work. I could advertise my business through ads to grow my email list or to promote something specific, but since my load is already rather full, it wouldn’t make sense to advertise for something I can’t immediately fulfill. That would just be money and energy not well spent.
However, Facebook/Instagram ads, when done well, are truly effective. I’ve seen the results first-hand and well, the data doesn’t lie!
06. Create your own content, don’t share a bunch.
Creating shareable content, rather than just sharing a bunch of content elsewhere is way better for your SEO, website traffic, credibility, engagement rates, authority in your niche – you get the idea.
Yes, sometimes we all share content (and credit appropriately!) but do it wisely and with intention. I guarantee you will see growth when investing in something like a brand photography shoot to obtain new creative assets or designing some fun new graphics rather than relying on stock photos or what’s already been seen all over the web.
07. Use 1-2 on-trend hashtags for Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn.
That’s really all you need on these three platforms. Any more and they’re just not visually appealing – they look spammy and are just not the primary way people are searching for content.
08. Use ~11 hashtags on Instagram & post them in the caption, NOT the comments.
It’s a slightly different story on Instagram since there are so many easier and better ways of browsing via hashtag. You can now even follow hashtags or link to them from your bio. I’m not exactly sure why, but a list of ~11 carefully selected, highly relevant hashtags seems to be the magic number, as opposed to a laundry list of the full 30.
Instagram’s algorithm now also prefers to see them directly in your caption, rather than posted as a comment. Just sayin’.
09. Always reply to comments as quickly as possible.
Yes, this one helps with post ranking, and thus improves your engagement. But really, it’s also just common business sense. Old school practices would advise that you get back to your customer’s phone calls as soon as possible, right? Today, the same goes for social media.
That’s why it’s also advised to only show up on the platforms you can truly be active on. It’s not doing much to send out a tweet once in a blue moon, to later find out you’ve missed multiple private messages inquiring about your services.
Another way to beat this is to create quick, templated replies. When someone does comment or message you via social media, you can kindly let them know you prefer to keep all messages in your inbox so nothing goes unattended! Or, you can delve into Facebook Messenger’s auto-replies. But to be honest, I haven’t jumped into that yet.
10. Resist the urge to edit your posts for ~24 hours on Instagram.
It kind of makes me cringe to write this one because if I see a typo in my own posts, you better believeeee I’m editing that thing. It also seems rather petty to try and beat an algorithm by not editing a piece of your own content for a sustained period of time, but alas, it’s a good rule to follow if you don’t like being ‘punished’ for no reason.
For whatever reason, quick edits are frowned upon on Instagram. So, write out your copy in advance, read through it, add all those emojis and hashtags, and let it fly.
11. Post organically from within each app, particularly on Facebook.
Whenever possible, schedule within Facebook’s publisher, not through 3rd party apps. Again, this one minorly makes me eye roll because it’s a way that Facebook further wants to monopolize your time within their platform only, but it also reduces the chances of spammy 3rd-party tools. So I’m kind of at a draw with it.
It also allows you to actually post properly formatted content for each app, rather than just pushing content from one to the other where it then looks wonky. Honestly, friends, just do the best you can with it.
13. Don’t wait for the kill – put your best copy forward right away.
Surprise – people scroll QUICK. Give them a reason to keep reading by immediately capturing their attention. This is journalism and copywriting 101 – don’t bury the lead!
13. Be consistent and focus on quality content more than factors like time of day to post, how frequently, how long it is, etc.
Analytics are great and I wholeheartedly suggest you use them to get the best results for the time you’re investing. However, don’t drive yourself nuts with them. If your content is quality and well-suited for your target audience, they will find it whether you post it at 12:06pm on Wednesday or 11:32am on Friday.
14. Go where your audience is & where you’re experiencing growth.
Focus there. If it’s JUST Instagram and Pinterest, tend to it. If it’s just Facebook and email marketing, track it. Create a tracking worksheet for reporting your numbers month-to-month. Set goals. Refine them.
This is what’s going to allow you to see what to keep doing, what to stop doing, and what to start doing. Otherwise, it can feel pretty aimless or vain, and that’s where it stops being fun or strategic.
15. Create content in advance with some room for adjustment and spontaneity.
Remember how we talked about quality over quantity? It’s hard to randomly create amazing, cohesive content on a busy Tuesday morning. That’s what makes social feel so stressful because we put it on the back burner and then question what to post every day.
Instead, create your own content calendar doc that makes sense for you. I recommend creating ~9-15 posts in one batched, sitting. You’ll be surprised how much more efficient this feels.
Then, you’ll still have room for more spontaneous content when it arises, without always feeling behind the ball.
This type of consistency will build your social confidence, and grow your following because your audience knows what to expect from you.
16. Add to your Instagram story highlights, and mention branded hashtags or sister accounts with @ mentions directly in your bio!
This is a new Instagram feature that allows you to click right over to hashtag feeds or other, brand-related accounts without someone having to manually type it in.
Having branded story highlights is another great way to add some life to your social and let people have a quick inside look. By archiving your favorite stories, your content can stay feeling fresh for anyone new who discovers your page. Less effort, more reach.
Bottom line ya’ll: Provide real value.
Sometimes the most sensical way to think of social is in the physical. If you wouldn’t say, do, or back something up 1v1, face-to-face, then don’t force or fake it on social media.
Remember that social media is a channel – it’s a form of marketing – and a very effective one, but it’s not the end all be all.
Nothing beats word-of-mouth, a spot-on referral, or a brand that consistently delivers great results and speaks for itself.
Love it or hate it, social media is a necessary aspect of promoting and branding your business in 2018.
Just don’t let it steal the main show: The needs of your clients/customers + the products/services you offer to solve them.
Lastly, if you’re not already, START EMAIL MARKETING. More on this later, but it has much higher ROIs and stability, without pesky algorithms.
Clearly, I’m also a big fan of blogging. It’s an incredible way to educate your audience, boost SEO, establish your credibility, keep people on your site, AND have something valuable to share on social media.
Which of these tips stuck out to you the most? What’s your social strategy?