Social Media 101: 6 Steps to Effectively Manage Your Digital Presence
In today’s increasingly digital world, your company’s social media presence isn’t merely a value add. Instead, it can be a powerful way to extend and support your larger messaging strategy — that is, when used correctly.
That’s the caveat. Correct — or optimal — social media use can be a struggle, especially for entrepreneurs who are trying to juggle 100 tasks at once. Social media management can, and often does, fall far down on the to-do list.
Social media channels are an effective way for prospective customers to find you and for you to share information about your company, your vision, and your story.
Instead of delving into the nitty-gritty details like what days and times you should post and how often, we’re going to take a step back and offer a more holistic approach to social media management. After all, you don’t have a lot of time to spare, which is why we want you to make the best use of the resources you already have.
Ready? Let’s go!
1. START SMALL.
It’s tempting to sign up for every social media platform. Don’t! Instead, pick two to three channels to start with. Frequent choices include Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn. As you decide where to start, think of your business and these questions:
- What’s your vision? Your voice?
- What products or services do you offer?
- What’s your message and how can you best convey it?
Answering those questions can help you decide what makes sense. For example, Instagram is an incredibly visual platform, so you’ll want to be sure you have plenty of photos and short videos to showcase. LinkedIn, on the other hand, is particularly effective for a B2B audience with a slightly more polished, professional tone than what you might use on, say, Facebook.
Keep this in mind: It’s always easier to scale up than scale back, and that includes social media marketing. If you start with too many channels at once, you risk fragmenting your message and not having enough time to devote to each platform. Social media marketing, like digital marketing, is an ongoing work in progress. You’ll always be testing, analyzing and refining. After several months, you may realize a particular social media channel isn’t working for your business. At that point, step away from that channel and pivot to another one. Lather, rinse, repeat.
2. FIND YOUR AUDIENCE.
As you decide which social media channels to activate, it’s important to understand where your audience spends time. Many social media marketing resources take a “one-size-fits-all” approach. That’s a helpful starting point, but paying attention to your customers and prospects is what will help you succeed. If you host any focus groups with members of your target audience, ask a question or two about what social media channels they use and where they enjoy hearing from businesses.
Another tip? Keep a close eye on your analytics. Use Google Analytics to monitor social media traffic to your website. Most social media platforms will also provide built-in insights. On sites like Instagram, you’ll need to make sure you’ve set up a business profile, rather than a personal profile, which you connect to your business Facebook page. Make a point to regularly look at your data, which will not only tell you what type of content is performing well, but also where your audience is interacting with your business.
3. CONSISTENCY IS KEY.
Unforeseen circumstances can prevent you from posting consistently. You’re busy running your business and suddenly it’s been two weeks since you’ve posted on Facebook or shared an image on Instagram.
On the other hand, you don’t want to post for the sake of posting, which is why so much of social media marketing is about balance. To help ensure a consistent posting schedule, try these two things:
- Gather content before you launch.If you haven’t yet activated your social channels, take a few days to gather content before you go live. Create an easily accessible file on a tool like Dropbox or Google Drive where you can stash photos, videos, and other visual assets. Then, pair those with the holy grail of social media marketing: an editorial calendar.
- Build an editorial calendar. As an entrepreneur, you also wear the hat of a publisher — congratulations! You’re creating a lot of content, including for your social media channels. Building a calendar can help keep you organized and ensure you’re hitting all of your messaging pillars. You don’t need to start with anything fancy — you can build a simple spreadsheet in Excel or, better yet, Google Sheets so that you can share it with your team. Include quick content notes on your calendar — do you have products to feature? A sale or promotion to share? If you’re also blogging, you’ll want to be sure to share all of your blogs on your social media channels so that you drive people back to your website. If you get stuck creating content, look at what other businesses in your industry are doing. Are there widely used hashtags like #TBT (Throwback Thursday) that you could personalize to your company? Or look up silly national holidays that you can potentially tie in to your product or service. Creating social content really does get easier. As you find your groove, you’ll start to see ideas and inspiration all around you.
4. REMEMBER THE “SOCIAL” IN SOCIAL MEDIA
No matter your industry or business or what you post, remember this: be conversational. Social etiquette can get lost behind a screen, but at the end of the day, all social media channels are built on conversations. Picture a few members of your target audience as you create content: what do you want to tell them? Avoid constant sales pitches or you’ll quickly be perceived as spammy. And don’t be afraid to show some personality! We’ve talked before about the importance of every business having a story and a voice. Your social media channels are the perfect place to show people who your company is, why it exists and why they should do business with you.
5. TAP INTO TOOLS.
There’s no shortage of tools to help you manage and optimize your social channels. To track the performance of links in a place besides Google Analytics, try a link like shortener Bit.ly, which will save your links and show you data like clicks, referrers and geographic location.
Management tools like Loomly, Buffer, and Meet Edgar automate functions like scheduling and can be a big help, especially if you’re struggling to find enough time to manage your social media. One note about scheduling: remember what you have scheduled and what it says. If, for example, a national tragedy strikes, it’s a good idea to disable any schedule posts to prevent being perceived as insensitive or dismissive to what’s happening.
6. OVERWHELMED? OUTSOURCE!
There will likely become a point when social media management becomes too much for you or your team. In that case, consider outsourcing your social media marketing to a solo contractor or an agency. You can set up parameters for reviewing content prior to publication or attend regular meetings to discuss strategy and results. So, that you’re not completely removed from the process. Just be sure to carefully vet your prospective vendors and, if possible, equip your vendor with brand and messaging guidelines to help ensure consistency. And in the event that you discontinue a vendor’s services, be sure to change your social media passwords ASAP so that you know who has access to your accounts.
Here’s a final tip: if you haven’t yet fully developed your brand and marketing, you’ll want to do that before you dive into social media management. Your social channels should be a reflection and extension of your brand, which is why it’s so important to start with a larger marketing strategy.
And if that’s something you need help with, you’ve come to the right place. Simply register for Kauffman FastTrac, a free online course that quickly gets you up to speed on everything you need to know to launch a business, including identifying your brand and developing your marketing. When you’re done, you’ll have the insight and resources you need to tackle any challenges that come your way, including what to post next on Instagram!