Step 5: Get Social
Editor’s note: This is the fifth of eight installments for SUCCESS’s 3rd annual Start Small Win Big entrepreneur challenge. Check out last week’s installment.
While most entrepreneurs agree social media has become an essential part of marketing, it can also suck up all of your time if you’re not smart about how you manage it. But there are ways to make the most of it and still get enough sleep at night. You just have to know how to use it.
This week your homework is getting your social media efforts focused, simplified and automated. Your first step is to create a schedule for how often you will post on social media. (While there are others to choose from, try checking out this calendar template from HubSpot.)
Here are three tips to get started:
1. Create a social media marketing plan—and use it.One of the biggest mistakes small-business owners make is starting out strong on social media and then running out of steam. (Have you ever visited a business Facebook account whose last post is from 2012? It creates a bad impression.)
Develop a plan for when and where you’ll post on social media—for instance, two tweets and one Facebook post daily, three Pinterest pins a week and 10 minutes interacting on LinkedIn every day. Set small goals at first so you can realistically meet them; then gradually expand your schedule as you get more response from followers.
2. Use social media management tools to streamline things. There are a wide range of social media management tools that let you handle the “grunt work” of social—scheduling posts, monitoring mentions of your business in real-time so you can respond quickly, viewing reports so you can see which social networks and types of posts work best. One of the most useful features of these tools is the ability to view all your social accounts in one place.
Hootsuite, Buffer, Everypost, Sprout Social, Sendible and TweetDeck are among the most popular social media management tools for small businesses; most of these apps offer either a free option or a free trial. When looking for the right one, consider how many social accounts you’re allowed to have, how many users you can have, how well the mobile apps work and how useful the analytics reports are to your business.
3. Get help. While you certainly shouldn’t give up control of your business’s social media accounts entirely, a little assistance can help you manage the volume—and there are ways to get help without spending a ton of money.
For example, if you need cool photos for Instagram or eye-catching memes for Pinterest, try enlisting a tween or teenager you know—they’ll love getting paid minimum wage for something they’d probably do for free. Depending on your needs and budget, you can hire freelancers to write blog posts, schedule social media posts or take professional photos or videos of your products or events to use on social media.
Make sure you always see and approve everything that gets scheduled on your accounts before it goes live. This helps ensure it’s true to your brand, authentic to your personality and makes sense for your business.
Share in the comments below: After searching and investigating social media management tools, sign up for a free trial of the one you like best. Why does it work for you and your business, and what are your next steps using it?