We’ve already discussed where to start when you have zero time for social media, but where do you go once you’ve started? Setting up systems helps you streamline your social media scheduling leaving you with more time for focusing on your small business.
By streamlining your social media, you won’t have that dreaded feeling that comes when you think about social media and how you aren’t doing “enough.” Use these tips and you’ll be on your way to less stress and more success!
Making social media a habit is one of the best ways to help you streamlining your process.
Think about it. You get up every morning and brush your teeth, right? The reason why you don’t even second guess brushing your teeth (besides the whole hygiene thing!) is because it was made a habit for you since you were a small kid. You were taught to brush your teeth every morning when you wake up.
It’s the same mindset for social media. You need to make it a consistent habit to be able to see results and eventually streamline it.
Pick the same time of day each day to focus only on social media. Nothing else. It’s tempting to want to do 10 different tasks at once, but that way of thinking is slowing you down and making you even less productive.
As a small business, you don’t need to be on every single platform from the beginning. Choose the one or two where you know your audience is, and master those. Once it is made a habit, you will find that it’s much easier to do the task, which in turn you will end up spending less time completing it.
If This Then That, better known as IFTTT, is an amazing web-based service that sets up “recipes” that creates a chain of events to happen.
For example, you can set up a recipe to share a new blog post automatically to your Facebook page. Or automatically pin your Instagram pictures to a particular Pinterest board.
These are just two examples, there are many other already curated recipes set up for you, or you can create your own.
Creating templates is an easy way to streamline your social media maintenance. I suggest creating a template for each social network (as they have varying suggested sizes).
If you don’t have a designer or photoshop, Canva is a great free tool that has pre-loaded templates appropriate for each platform.
You are able to upload your logo, change it to your brand colors, use pre-loaded backgrounds…it’s amazing. Once you create a template, you can just copy it when you want to make a new post.Streamline your #socialmedia scheduling with this free checklist from @brittneyllynn! Click To Tweet
Using a social media scheduling tool is the quickest way to streamline your social media posts. There are many programs out there, but here are the ones I use and recommend.
Buffer is an easy to use tool where you can connect the following accounts to schedule:
I currently only use it to schedule tweets but it is such a time saver. You are able to select pre-set times for your scheduled tweets to go out, so you can capitalize when it’s best for your account to post.
I currently use the free version of Buffer, so if I want to schedule more than ten updates, I start scheduling Twitter updates in Hootsuite. Hootsuite also allows you to connect your Facebook page, LinkedIn, Google Plus, and Instagram (though it doesn’t technically automatically schedule your post, you still have to click to approve it to go through).
Hootsuite is also nice to look at multiple different streams at one glance.
Social media is obviously a great way to connect and engage with current and future customers, but how should you use social media to promote your products?
People seem to carry a negative connotation with promotion. They don’t want to come off as too “sales-y.” Which I totally get. Nobody wants to be inundated with advertisements everywhere they go.
But part of the reason why you are on social media as a small business is to promote your products. Getting the word out about the latest and greatest you have to offer is a great way to get new customers.
There are ways to promote your products through your social channels without being too annoying to your audience. Let’s take a look at some options below.
With Twitter cards, you can attach a photo, video, or media link (think article preview) to your tweets. This helps catch a follower’s eye, as we are more naturally drawn to visual images versus straight text.
For driving traffic back to your website for a product you are trying to sell, you would create what is called a summary card.
Here is an example of a summary card:
Do you see how the content is expanded to include a title, a brief description and image? This essentially gives followers a visual preview of your product, before clicking over to your site.
Getting started with Twitter cards only takes 15 minutes to set up. Read more on how to get started with these tips.
Ah, Facebook. I know a lot of people say Facebook is dead, how bored they are with Facebook, and you might have even threatened to get off Facebook forever when they made the last big update (isn’t it funny how so many people say they’ll get off Facebook when a big change is made and then…they never do? I always laugh :))
The truth of the matter is, Facebook still works. People are still spending a ton of time on Facebook.
The key factor to remember is, how you should use Facebook for your business. And if you’re selling products, Facebook ads can have a huge influence on your sales.
The most important aspect of your Facebook ad is not the ad itself, it’s the target audience for the ad.
Your target audience for your Facebook ad should not be a random selection of people in your target demographic. You are wasting your money having a broad audience like that.
You want to target people who are already coming to your website. Why? Because they are already familiar with you. So familiar, that they have already been to your website or better yet, they have already looked at your products on your website.
How do I target those people who are already visiting my website?
Inserting a Facebook ad pixel. It may sound complicated but I promise it’s not. Facebook does a great job explaining how and where you should place your Facebook ad pixel, as well as tracking any conversions.
Rich pins, like Twitter cards, give a little extra information on a pin, giving a follower all of the information they need about a particular pin. There are 6 types of rich pins: app, recipe, article, movie, place, and you guessed it: product.
Here is an example of a successful rich pin for a product:
See how it has the price of the cardigan listed at the top of the pin? As well as more detailed information about the cardigan at the bottom (style, color, brand)? That is the type of information included on a rich pin.
Setting up a rich pin is even easier than setting up a Twitter card or Facebook ad pixel (I swear!). It takes only seconds of your time, and it’s definitely worth it.
If your target audience is on Instagram, working with popular users is a fantastic way to get your products in front of the right audience.
Having an Instagram influencer use and share your product on their account gives their followers a feel for what your product is actually like. Most times, these influencers have had these followers for awhile and they trust the opinion of this person.
Instagram is neat because people can share products in a non-sales-y way, so the promotion of your product won’t come off as an ad, just a way for someone to share a product they genuinely love.
Make sure to only work with quality influencers, ones who you are proud to have represent your brand.
A quick description of social proof, in case you aren’t familiar with the term: Social proof is simply an influencer sharing your product/business on a social platform. Providing “proof” on social media that your product actually is as awesome as you say it is. This proof gives consumers a boost in confidence in your product and in turn, ends up buying it.
Here are a few examples of social proof:
With new social media networks coming out what seems like every other day, it can be easy to get overwhelmed.
“Well I have to be on Facebook because everyone is on Facebook!”
“Might as well throw in Twitter too.”
“Oh, what about Instagram? Yeah, gotta share those filtered pictures to my audience for sure.”
“What’s this Snapchat thing? And Periscope? So I just record myself talking and people will want to see it?”
By the end of the day, you spent all of your time on social media, and zero time actually doing the work required for your business!
My hope is to help ease your mind and explain how not to get overwhelmed managing your social media. Let’s get to it!
Everyone claims that you need to have a “social media strategy” for your business, but what does that mean?
In simple terms, it means answering this question: Why are you doing whatever you’re doing on each social platform? What is your goal of participating on being on a particular platform?
There needs to be a “why” to everything you do for your business and the same goes for social media. Do not be on social media just because “people tell you to.” There needs to be a reason, otherwise you’ll lose motivation to continue engaging.
I’m a big fan of batch scheduling in different facets of my life, but especially with social media.
Yes, I work in social media, so shouldn’t I always be socializing on these platforms? No.
For one, I have to write this blog right? Two, I need to meet and discuss with clients, which also takes time. So even I’M not on social media 24/7.
Here’s what I do:
Each Friday, I look at my calendar for the week ahead. I first notice any social engagements, appointments, meetings, etc.
I then plug in my workouts into my calendar.
Then, I schedule out my work week, scheduling chunks of time to just schedule social media posts or find content to share. I could easily spend hours on social media, but having those chunks of time dedicated helps me remember to save it for then.
Just do it. Nothing monumental will happen, I promise. To get a notification on your phone every time someone likes your Facebook page, or tweets at you is distracting and not doing you any favors.
I check my social platforms around three times a day: 1) once right when I wake up, 2) around lunchtime, 3) before going to bed.
Your audience understands that a human being is responding back to comments on these platforms and they know you might not respond immediately and that’s okay. You’re a small business, not a huge corporation that has 10 team members watching its social platforms.
Yep. I said it. You don’t need to be on every platform as a small business owner. Figure out where your target audience likes to hang out, choose those, and lose the rest.
Having a Twitter page just for the sake of having one but never posting on it does you no good. In fact, I think it actually hurts your business more than if you just didn’t have one in the first place.
I’ll use myself as an example. For growing my business, I’m currently only focusing on building my Pinterest and Twitter accounts. These two are where I’m getting the most value for my time right now, so I don’t promote on Facebook or Instagram.
Now that doesn’t mean eventually I won’t move onto those other platforms, but I’m only taking on what matters most to my business while I’m still building.
Pick one platform that you know your target audience is on. Just one. I know it’s hard to ignore all of those other ones but this will save you time and will also save your sanity.
Why focus on just one? So you can master it.
Have you ever heard of “just in time” learning? It’s this way of learning something right as you need to learn it, versus trying to learn allthethings at one time.
Focusing on one account (ideally, the platform that your audience is on the most) will give you time to learn everything there is to know on how to grow that account and make it sustainable. Once you’ve mastered it, you can move onto the next.
Alright, so you have a strategy, you’ve turned off your notifications, and you’re ready to handle multiple accounts. Now it’s time to automate.
There are many systems out there to automate your social platforms. Some are free, some aren’t. Some only handle certain social accounts.
My best advice is to use what system that works best for your budget and your business. It might take a lot of trial and error but once you find the right match, it will keep you from getting overwhelmed.
If your small business is growing at a rapid pace (awesome job!) then it might be time to outsource some of your social media tasks.
It can be hard to hand over part of your brand to someone new, but it could help grow your brand exponentially if you’re then free to do what you do best in your business.
I’m sure you know by now that you need to not only share your own content on your social platforms but that you also need to share other people’s content. For one, you don’t want to be pushing your products constantly to your followers, that gets old. Plus, providing extra valuable content to your followers will give your readers an extra incentive to follow you and trust you as a reliable source.
There are many articles out there that detail out the percentages of how much of your own content you should share and how much should be outside content. For my clients I suggest the 70/30 rule. 70% outside content, 30% your business related- content.
That doesn’t mean 30% needs to be you pitching your product/business, but a mix of promotion, personality, photos, videos, etc.
But what about the other 70%? Where are you supposed to find great content to share on social media? Below are the ways I use for finding great content to share on social media for myself and for clients.
People are sometimes intimated by leaders in their own industry because they think “I could never get where they are” but I think that’s a bunch of bologna. You can’t ignore industry leaders, because, well, they are a leader for a reason. Clearly they are doing something right, otherwise they wouldn’t be a leader. Take a look at their social media platforms and see what they post.
Are they posting more videos to Facebook? What pages are they following?
Are they more personal on Instagram? What types of photos are getting the most interaction?
Are they interacting more on Twitter? What publications do they tweet about?
By watching industry leaders, you can start to become familiar with the types of content they share and what gets the most interaction. This will then give you an idea of the types of articles and content you should share on your platforms.
Along with following industry leaders, you should also follow your peers. These are the people and organizations that are on a similar playing field as you. Now you may be thinking, “Wait! But these are my competitors!” and perhaps in some instances they are, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find value through following them. Heck, maybe you will end up having a business partnership with them at some point!
The point is, people who follow your peers on social media are most likely the same type of people you are looking for get to follow your platforms. It doesn’t need to be a competition, we’re all in this together as small businesses.
Pinterest is one of the largest search engines in the world now. People are browsing Pinterest on their mobile devices more than ever, even while they are shopping in a store! What is popular on Pinterest is sure to be popular to the world, so browsing what is popular on Pinterest is a guaranteed way to find great content to share with your followers.
To find the “popular on Pinterest” section, all you have to do is:
Creating Twitter lists is something I feel that is underused on Twitter, but can have a major impact. If you aren’t sure what a Twitter list even is, here’s your quick rundown: A Twitter list is curated list (you can create your own or you can follow others) where it only lists Tweets from the people that are put on the list.
For instance, say you want to make a Twitter list of local non-profits in your area. You would search on Twitter for all of the non-profits near your location and add them to your list. Here are some screenshots to help make this a little easier to understand:
How to create a Twitter list
2. Click on “create new list” on the right hand side of the screen
3. Give your list a title (for my example, we will do “non-profits in Dallas.” You can make your lists either public or private, depending on your needs. I made this one private to just show an example.
4. Find people to add to your list.
Once you add people to your list, you can go to the stream of your list to find the content that only they are sharing. It’s a great way to filter out your entire Twitter following to just a certain topic and industry.
There are hundreds, probably thousands, of tools out there to help curate the particular types of content you are looking to share. To list every single one of them would be exhaustive, but I’ve curated ones I have experience with and have loved or that I have seen highly recommended by others.
Google Alerts: Google alerts gets a bad rep now since there are many other programs out there, but I still set up Google alerts for each client I work with, just in case. Remember when setting up keywords to use quote (“) around phrases otherwise your inbox will be quite full by the end of the day 🙂
IFTTT: The best time saver ever. If you’ve never heard of it, might I suggest reading this article to get a really good overview (although I don’t agree with it completely crushing Google alerts! :)). Essentially, it’s a tool that allows different online programs and software talk to each other, without you having to do a single thing.
Here’s how it works: you can set up a “recipe” (their terminology) for the types of content you would want to share to be emailed to you. Say you’re in the technology industry. You can set up a IFTTT recipe that emails you anytime there is a popular article has been shared on the New York Times.
There are many more recipes you can create, this was just one example, so put your thinking cap on!
Pocket: Pocket is great for when you find an awesome article you want to share but aren’t ready to read entirely through the article yet. Pocket saves the article to view later. The best part? Once you save it to pocket, you can even read it without having an internet connection!
BuzzSumo: BuzzSumo is a great program to see what is getting shared the most on the web on a particular topic. You can also see topics that are currently trending, benchmark against competitors, and find key influencers in the keyword you selected to search.
Theneeds: The reason why Theneeds sticks out to me the most is that it not only pulls in relevant news, articles, and videos but also relevant social posts too!
Flipboard: Flipboard is a beautifully designed app that curates your interests from articles around the web. The design layout is drool-worthy!
Finding great content to share on social media doesn’t have to be hard. Once you set up a few of these suggestions listed above, you are bound to have great content surrounding you.
I’m in several Facebook groups, most relating to freelancing, entrepreneurship and the like. One question I see over and over (and over) again is:
“How do I find time to use social media for my business?”
Time is an interesting thing, isn’t it? It seems like we never have enough of it.
“If I only had more time I would ______”
“If I had an extra hour in the day I could _____”
“Why aren’t there more hours in a day?!”
I’m sure you’ve heard one of these comments before, or maybe you’ve even uttered the phrases yourself.
But here’s the thing. We each only have 24 hours in a day. 168 hours in a week. Time is what you make of it. You make time for the things that matter to you most.
If social media is important to you for growing your business, you will need to make time. Not much, but some time will be needed. There isn’t a magic potion out there that creates more time for social media.
So say you’ve read 168 Hours (great book, by the way), and you’ve figured out you have a little extra time to dedicate to social media, but you aren’t sure where to start. Below are ways I’ve personally implemented that help answering the “where to start with social media when you have zero time” question.
If you are just starting out with social media, you’ll need to do an exercise. You may be asking yourself, “how do I find where my audience hangs out?” Here’s your answer:
First step: Define who your audience is. This means demographically (gender, age, location) as well as their interests (shopping habits, websites they read, blogs they follow, etc). Write this down.
Second step: Follow the same type of websites, Twitter accounts, Facebook groups, and interests that your audience does (and hopefully you already naturally do). You will slowly start to see where these people congregate (Instagram, Facebook groups, Twitter, etc).
Third step: Determine which place your audience hangs out the most and focus only on that social network. You will feel the need to focus on everything at the same time, but ignore this feeling. You’ll get to the other networks eventually. All that matters right now is this first network.
Batch processing is THE best tip I can give you for making the most out of your time. What do I mean when I say batch processing?
Batch processing is setting aside time to complete similar tasks. The term actually derives from a computer language standpoint, where a computer would “batch process” similar “jobs” without human intervention.
My kind of batch processing does involve human intervention (aka YOU :)), but you will be completing similar “jobs” just like a computer would.
Batch processing your social media content helps you laser focus on the task at hand. It can be tempting to try and do a million and one things at the same time (hello multi-tasking!) but in reality, you get a lot less done when you multi-task.
Set aside time each week to schedule your social media posts. Use this time to create posts to promote your blog, business, and website. Zeroing in one this one task will help streamline your marketing efforts, while not sacrificing on posting great content.
Now I’m sure you know by now that you shouldn’t just promote your business on social media, but also to share relevant articles and information from other sources too. Finding and scheduling those also take time, which leads us to number 3.
Do you ever go into your email inbox to check one important email and then look up and realize you spent 3 hours reading the latest blog post from your favorite blogger and about a million of those shopping emails? Yeah, #beenthere.
And those emails can be great, life changing even. But they have a time and place. If you read every email that came in at the time it came in you would get absolutely no work done.
I’ve found the best ways around this is to batch read. Yes, similar to batch processing scheduling your content listed in number 2.
You can set up batch reading in a number of ways, but here are the two that work best for me:
1) Designated email folder
2) Designated blog reader category
For each email list that I sign up for, relating to content I would share on my social platforms, I have them directly go to a designated email folder entitled “Content.” These emails completely surpass my main inbox. I do not ever see them unless I go into the “Content” folder of my email. The idea here is that they are out of site, so I’m not tempted to even begin reading them. I know that at the end of the week, I have the designated time to go through and read each email if I so desire.
Popular blog readers like Bloglovin’ or Feedly have helped me immensely in streamlining social media posts. If you read blogs, but don’t want an email every time a new post is up, a blog reader is an easy solution.
Create a category such as “Content to Share” and add your favorite blogs and websites that have content that is relevant to share with your audience. As listed above, schedule time during your week to go through these blog posts and pick the appropriate articles to share. Resist the urge to read them as soon as they are published. They will be there waiting for you when you’re ready, I promise.
Now here’s where some work needs to happen but it’s worth it for the long haul.
Once you’ve been posting to the social network you’ve been focusing on for a few months (remember, you are focusing on ONE social network), you will need to take a look and see what is working and what doesn’t work.
How do you do this? Well, it depends on the network.
Across all networks, some rules of thumb including looking at the following:
– Time of day posting
– Type of content (is it a photo, video, quote, a personal anecdote?)
So what does “working” mean here? “Working” in this sense means engagement. How many people liked the content? Or even better, commented? Or even better than THAT, shared it?
Take notes on which types of posts get more engagement. Keep those types of posts in your strategy of sharing, while doing a little less of the type of content that gets the least.
Now it’s not to say if sharing a personal anecdote gets you the most comments that you should always share personal anecdotes, but it can be easy to forget what types of posts people like. If you keep these ideas type of mind, it makes it easier for you to schedule out posts that you know your followers will like in advance. Thus saving time, which is what we are looking for.
If you’re ready to move even further, automation is your next step. There are a few free services that will do automation (Hootsuite, Buffer (to an extent), Facebook scheduler) but the best of the best are of the paid variety.
Once you have a solid social media strategy (which you definitely should have before you even think about paying for automation), it might be time to look into automation.
There are tons of programs out there that can help with automating your social media, and this post isn’t about reviewing them (hoping to do that soon!) but know that there won’t ever be a complete “automation” on your end. Even if you hire out for someone else to do your social media, you will need to spend at least some time thinking and reviewing your social media strategy on a routine basis.
Social media isn’t going anywhere, it’s not a phase that will eventually pass. For right now, it’s here to stay, and you might as well embrace it.
If you’re looking for a professional to manage your social media strategy, feel free to contact me so we can discuss your business goals. I’d be happy to help!
Note: There are Amazon Affiliate links in this post. I make a small commission if you click on a link and make a purchase. This is of no additional cost to you. I recommend these products because I support them and have used or had experience with them. I would only recommend products because I think they are useful to you.
The elusive “improving engagement” monster. Previous clients I’ve worked with, people in Facebook groups I’m in, heck people all across the Internet want to know:
“How can I improve engagement on my social media posts?!”
It’s a far too common question and there are many answers that have been given.
Respond to commenters!
Ask your audience a question!
Share a quote!
While the above suggestions are great and have their place, there are ways to engage your audience that go deeper than sharing a graphic with an Albert Einstein quote. Below are four tried and true ways I have found that have increased engagement on social media posts for the long run.
And no, just posting a title of an article and tagging a person on Twitter is not going cut it.
Truly interact with other people on social media. Participate in Twitter chats, join a Facebook group and offer real advice, leave thoughtful comments on Instagram…it all matters.
People won’t genuinely comment on your profiles if you never comment on others. When commenting, share why you love their newest blog post/product/whatever it may be. When leaving advice, share from your personal experience what does or doesn’t work.
Also known as, pulling a Taylor Swift. Whether or not you like the previous-country-ballad-turned-pop-singer-sensation or not, she knows how to treat her fans.
In case you haven’t heard, last year T. Swift sent Christmas gifts to a few of her biggest fans on Tumblr. These gifts were personalized, with a hand-written note from Taylor. These fans were obviously surprised and so appreciative that Taylor took the time to not only send these gifts, but to write directly to them.
This created a storm across social media, as these girls who were sent gifts shared on their social networks their surprise gift from Taylor.
You don’t need to be Taylor Swift to pull this off. Send your top five best customers a gift card with a personalized message, offer access to your next online e-course a week before it launches, send flowers to your most interactive Twitter follower…the options are endless.
Brainstorm ideas of what your specific customers/clients would appreciate and make the gift heartfelt. They will pay you back ten-fold by sharing on social media and interacting with your social platforms.
Posting on social media as a business can sometimes be soul-sucking. Not to get grim, but it’s the truth. So many businesses think they must stick to what is “business appropriate” at all times. And while I agree with that most of the time, sometimes you need to let some personality shine.
People like interacting with other people, and if your business seems more like a human rather than a robot, more people will interact with you on social media.
Share a personal side of your brand, like Pat Flynn:
Give a mini-update on your life, like solopreneur Kayla Hollatz:
Let your employees take over for your social media for a day, like Yelp cleverly does:
Wait, don’t you mean ask questions?
Nope, I mean answer questions. Give advice for free. This can be hosted on various different platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram for starters. Sarah Morgan of XOSarah does this on her blog every other Friday and I think it is pure genius.
Tell your audience in advance that you will be answering questions on this date and this time about whatever you specialize in. Let your email subscribers know, (obviously) share on your social networks, perhaps even ask others in your same industry (other bloggers, friends, small businesses) to share your free Q&A.
Spending a small amount of time answering questions from your audience will go a long way. Your audience will be forever grateful that you took the time to answer their question, and it also shows your expertise in the field.