by Katie Stanton | Featured Contributor
One of the most common questions that I receive from my clients is, “How do I DO all this?” They’re small business owners and start-up bosses, so they might be talking about their daily lives, but more often they’re talking about managing their social media accounts.
As with many things in business (and life), the key is to keep it simple. These four steps and a little bit of your time each week will help you take control of your accounts, no fancy or expensive tools required.
You’ve done the basics. You’ve created accounts and uploaded your logo. You’re posting content… sometimes. At the very least, you’re thinking about it. Every so often you hop on your business accounts and check your messages.
To run your social media effectively, you’ve got to think about it in advance. First, claim all of your screen names on every social media account you can think of. (Use Name Checkr to see if you missed one.)
Then decide what social media channels make sense for your business. Where do your target customers hang out online? Do they follow your competitors on Twitter? Are they posting about products like yours on Pinterest? Spend some time on each platform and make note of how your potential customers behave and what they talk about. Once you know where to be and where not to be, it’s time to think about how you’ll be part of those communities.
Imagine that your Twitter account for your business is actually a person, and think about her likes and dislikes. What issues are important to her? Who would she follow? Who would she retweet? Write this down for Facebook, Instagram and any other type of account you plan to actually use regularly.
There are countless social media management tools and companies that want your time and your money “to simplify your social media.” If you find one you like, great! If you’ve tried 20 and still can’t find a solution, simplify it yourself. I’ve created a spreadsheet (find it here and download a copy) that you can use to map out your weekly posts.
Sit down at the start of your week and think about what you’d like to post on each day. Maybe you’d like to create a theme for each day, or maybe you have a list of articles you read that you’d like to share. Whatever you decide, use your research to check if it is appropriate for your business account, schedule it out across the week, and put the actual text and links in this spreadsheet.
And remember, if your business were a person, she wouldn’t just yell about herself all the time. (She’s not a robot, and she’s not a megaphone.) You can post about your business and what you do, but make it relevant and of value for the other people in your community. They want to get to know your business, not be bombarded with advertising.
If you’ve discovered that your target customers and peers participate in online events like Twitter chats or Google Hangouts, add those to your calendar too so you can remember to attend.
The spreadsheet solves three key issues: knowing what you’ll post, making sure you’re posting on all of your accounts, and tracking what you’ve done so you can learn from it. So put it to use.
Each day, schedule 30 minutes for yourself (and I do mean in your planner or Google Calendar!) to open your spreadsheet and focus on your accounts. Use this time to schedule the content you’ve written in advance using Facebook or Tweetdeck; monitor content that’s relevant to your brand by searching for it; check out what others are posting and start conversations with interesting new people. This will help you get better at using these tools, as well as be creative and figure out what’s interesting for you and your business.
Whenever you’re not sure what to post or not sure if something is relevant, go back to your initial research and review it.
At the end of your week, open your spreadsheet again and take a moment to visit your Facebook Insights, Twitter Analytics, Pinterest notifications, etc. and review how people interacted with you. Make a note for each day. Were there posts that got a lot of activity? Posts that didn’t? Did you get a lot of followers or mentions on one particular day? What did you post or share that day? Did you use hashtags? Doing this over time will help you understand what works for you and what doesn’t.
Pick one or two metrics that are truly important. The number of followers you have may not be the metric that matters for your business; in fact, it rarely is. If getting traffic to your content is what matters, focus on link clicks. If building solid relationships is what matters, focus on how many conversations you had with new people.
Bonus Step: Discipline
Repeat this cycle, trying different kinds of posts and engagement until you find the rhythm that works for you. Then stick to it! Success rarely happens overnight, and “going viral” isn’t a sustainable business goal. With consistency and planning, you can use these tools to build your business and find your community for the long-haul.
Katie is a co-founder of the digital marketing and communications firm The Good Lemon. Passionate about community building, the Internet, and putting words together, Katie has been a part of the digital non-profit space for over seven years. She has built digital communications programs for national organizations dedicated to women’s leadership, social justice and global change, such as the YWCA USA and Vital Voices Global Partnership. She has also work with and consulted for globally-known entities like the Allstate Foundation, Bank of America and the State Department.
Katie holds a Bachelor’s degree in English from George Mason University. She is a global traveler and loves to explore new cities and cultures (follow her trips on Instagram), and is an overly-enthusiastic home cook and aspiring ukulele player.