Your small business social media can be a black hole.
Wait. Is that the one that sucks everything into it, leaving you with no time or perspective or patience? Or is that a time warp field? Whichever, social media can be it.
You can spend all day every day reading urgent advice from every social media guru out there, telling you how much you’re missing by not chasing down every last and latest tip and trick. The end result is that you’re buried in so many stats, SEO and analytics that by the time you figure out what they mean, the algorithms have been changed and you’re now being told to chase the next big stick. That will leave you exhausted and unable to do the other 98 percent of running your business.
Someone in a digital media marketing group to which I belong recently said Instagram changed the way videos are showing up, leaving the stat crunchers all discombobulated. I felt like I dodged a bullet, since I had been meaning to dig deeper into what’s going on with Instagram for a while, but hadn’t taken the time. Maybe I’ll find the time next month. Maybe in January. I have to be OK with not mastering every social media platform at every turn.
Getting overly involved in your social media inner-workings is sometimes not necessary. Not only that, it’s ill advised for busy people. You’re better off pulling back and simplifying your social media approach, focusing on the handful of things you’ve identified as being key to your business marketing strategy.
How to simplify
First simplify your schedule. Especially if you’re really overwhelmed. Pull back and away from your plan, your calendar and your social media schedule. I know you spent a lot of time and effort on it, but you won’t lose that much momentum by taking a short break. If you’re spending more than 30 minutes a day posting on social media, push the reset button and take a break.
Next, simplify your posts. If you’re trying to cram everything plus the kitchen sink into a post, knock it down to one really well written paragraph. Pack it with keywords, but keep the language easy and natural. If you lean toward using infographics and photo carousels, instead post one photo of a simple symbol to illustrate your point. You’ll find you’re spending a lot less time on posting. And you might find that you’re getting the same results.
Be more with less, by planning and crafting your posts with an eye to your strategy, goals, and your target audience. One well written, eye catching post can sometimes do more than many posts that are just thrown against the wall.
And stop trying to keep up with the Joneses. When you hear that your competitor is ratcheting up her social media game, learn to be OK with that. You are taking a different path right now, one that might be temporary or might actually be more successful and work best for you.
The case for simplifying: What the experts say
Social media marketers and influencers agree that a simpler take on social media is almost always a good thing for a small business or individual, especially one with too many balls in the air.
Steph Taylor, digital product launch strategist, suggests that the key to a simpler social media strategy is being clear on who your audience is.
“Know who your business is for and get crystal clear in your messaging. Knowing who your ideal customer or client is, what you stand for and what your point of difference is, can bring focus to your content and how you show up on social media,” she says.
Not being clear on these things can result in a brand that is “all over the place” on social media, she says. “One day you’re posting about protein powders and the next you’re posting about keratin treatments for dogs. And not knowing who your audience is can mean that you’re posting content that doesn’t resonate – and that doesn’t bring you any closer to achieving your goals.”
“You cannot be everywhere all the time, yet some of these sites leave you feeling like you are missing something, or can’t keep up if you aren’t there 24/7,” says Courtney Carver in The Simplicity Space. She suggests picking one main social media platform to focus on, and scaling back on the others. “Instead of doing a little here and there, choose the venue that works best for you. For instance, I check in with my Facebook account once a week or so and canceled my LinkedIn account. That gives me more time to thoughtfully engage with Twitter.”
Tonia from Solopreneur Diaries has lots of tips on how to simplify your social media. My favorite is creating a social media library. “Each time you write a piece of social content, save it in a searchable file. You will be surprised how often you have the opportunity to re-use or re-purpose what you’ve written,” she says.
“I keep my social media library in a Google spreadsheet, with tabs for Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. I’ve included columns for the post date, post title, tweet text, post link, hashtags, and image link.”
When it comes to social media, we often think that scheduling posts is the best way to simplify. Get them in the hopper on automatic, and you’ll be off doing more important things, right? Wrong. At least partially wrong. Caz Bevan of Boostability advises that scheduling posts is great, but not 100 percent of the time.
“The most engaging posts are usually the most human,” Bevan says. “While many individuals and companies will try to schedule posts with a more relaxed, human tone, your users can tell when you’re posting because you need to, versus posting when you want to.”
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Diane Laney Fitzpatrick of Digital Content and Services helps small businesses DIY their social media and digital media. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.