Which social media platform should you be on? Should you focus on one or do you need to be on all? What does an optimized social media profile look like? What sort of content do you want to put out there? How should you engage and how often?
Deciding to enter the realm of social media as a business can be incredibly overwhelming. Not only do you have the balancing act of getting valuable content out there and engaging with your community, but you also have to make sure it all ties together strategically.
The fact is it is near impossible to manage social media profiles without a tool or app of some kind. The list below contains information on 5 social media management tools, platforms, and services I use to manage and scale my own and my clients’ online marketing efforts. Granted, there are many, many more out there – but this list is my point A.
I truly believe this should be everyone’s start line. If you don’t have a content calendar, you’re more than likely winging it – which in turn means you haven’t taken the time to (a) think about your content strategy and the core messages you want to put out there or (b) understand your ideal client’s needs and behavior, both online and off. You need to start with the end in mind.
Ideally the first step in your process, a good content calendar would list the following:
- Publish date and time (let your analytics tell you which times are optimal)
- Post theme
- Channel (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest)
- Working title and/or accompanying copy
- Character count (to flag when you’ve gone past max. character limits)
- Keywords, tags and hashtags (based on how people are searching for your services and what’s trending too)
- Results (in terms of likes, comments, shares)
Ideally, there should be a pre-, during and post- thought process going on here. You have things like your keyword research, Google Analytics and business direction as inputs into the actual posts and then there is the after action review – which offers you data and a learning opportunity that feeds back into the cycle once again. It’s not rocket science. It’s really just about understanding the different levers and using them to your advantage.
There are so many tools out there that help you with this sort of thing and the choice is really about what works for you and the way you’re designed — the fanciest, most expensive system in the world is useless if you cannot commit to it. So whether it’s an Excel spreadsheet, a Trello board, a Google calendar, or something like Buffer – make a choice, stick to it and follow through. Me, personally, I’m still an Excel kinda girl.
I promise you, planning your content a week, a month, a quarter in advance gives you the opportunity to be more strategic in your voice and in the way you connect with your online community. Investing the time upfront also buys you back a lot of time and headache thinking about what you’re going to put out there on a day to day basis. But most importantly, it sets you up for success and for consistency – which is key for building a successful, engaging brand.
Feedly is an amazing tool which essentially brings all your favorite RSS feeds together ‘under one very organized roof’.
Picture this: You no longer need to visit the 10 blogs or sites you normally visit to get caught up on news or people you follow. Feedly allows you to organize your feeds in easy to read collections. I, for example, have several collections on my feed – a few are intended for my own consumption, and others form part of the content research I offer my clients. This allows me to streamline my effort and crunch through more content in less time. To optimize your Feedly experience, here are a few tips:
- Find and add your favorite sources.
- Group your feed into useful categories. As an example, you could have one category for ‘Digital Marketing’, another for ‘Entrepreneurship’, and yet another for ‘Health & Fitness’.
- Define your ‘must read’ sources by using the Favorite setting. This helps Feedly prioritize your stream, pushing your favorites to the top.
- The save and share functionalities in Feedly are super cool. Each time you come across an interesting news/info piece, you can read it there and then, save it for later or, save it to a separate personal board. You can also use the built-in sharing feature to interact more actively with your Facebook and Twitter communities. Upgrade to the premium version and you’re able to share across other platforms, save stories to Evernote and so much more.
- Over time, your needs will change. The “organize my feeds” option makes it easy to re-organize your content, rename things, delete sources and update categories. Taking the time to spring clean your feed as your sources, interests, and needs change will ensure that Feedly remains a tool that streamlines your time rather than wastes it.
There are a lot of image bank options out there, and whether you go for the paid or free variety really depends on things like your budget as well as the tone you want your visuals to take.
I, personally, am at a stage in my business where I would rather put my money into tools that actually help me run my business more efficiently (think: 17hats) and manage my projects better (think: Trello), or into a business coaching and skills training program that helps me fine-tune my craft and get awesome at what I do (think: the Create Your Laptop Life Mentorship Program!).
This leaves me with two options: Using my own visual art/photography or free stock images so here are three free image sources that I love and use for blog and social media posts right now:
Finding gorgeous images are typically just half the story though because the next question almost always is “how do I know which one is best?”. In my mind, there are several considerations when picking an image for your blog post, website, landing page etc. These include your company branding and the tone/messaging you want to get across, how much white space you need for superimposed text and the orientation you need.
Taking a bit of time to think about what goes into the graphics used in our blog and social media posts can have a huge impact on their success so it is definitely worth the extra effort.
And here’s a tiny tip: Before posting or publishing your image, hop on Google to see if a similar image has already been used. All you need to do is open Google images in your browser, drag and drop your image into the search bar and see what comes back. In today’s social media scene, you want to stand out.
Research has found that colored visuals increase people’s willingness to read your content by 80%. It was also found that content with relevant images gets 94% more views relative to content without images. Those numbers are staggering! So here’s the deal.
There are a gazillion design tools out there: tools for creating infographics, tools for creating eBooks, tools for creating avatars. Regardless of their use, they range in their complexity and how much time they take to learn.
I am personally a huge fan of Canva because you don’t have to be a designer or have an eye for design to be able to create beautiful visuals. You won’t need hours and hours to learn your way around the platform either because Canva is incredibly intuitive.
It offers a variety of content types — from pre-sized social media images and header templates to marketing materials, documents and presentations. If you don’t see something you like, you even have the option of creating a visual using custom dimensions, colors, fonts, images, and filters.
Upgrade and you get the magic resize functionality – which is a massive time saver. I manage the social media presence for most of my clients, many of whom are at a stage where they are posting content at least twice a day across several platforms. The magic resize function in Canva enables me to create visuals for, as an example, Instagram and then resize it to suit the dimensions needed for Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter with the click of just one button. Godsend!
There are two bits of advice that I hear a lot and that’s to be where your people are and to post relevant, on point content regularly.
In fact, while not cast in stone, there are studies that suggest we aim for one post each in Facebook and Instagram, 15 (what?!) tweets on Twitter, and 11 pins on Pinterest daily. Imagine that! If you followed that to a T over 20 days, that’s 560 posts to deal with.
Thankfully, there are social media management tools out there that help to keep it under control. Hootsuite, as an example, helps you keep track of and manage multiple social network channels. It offers you a way to schedule a month’s worth of posts in advance. As you create your posts, the character count and shortened links functionality is super useful. It also enables you to monitor what people are saying about your brand and empowers you to respond instantly without having to leave the Hootsuite platform.
So there you have it. Five tools I use almost every day. I am hoping this post has helped to make social media management seem a little less daunting for you and your business. If you find yourself in a place where you’d like to outsource the role, I’d love the opportunity to have a conversation with you around how we can help. Just hit the ‘Contact’ link up top and we’ll be in touch.