Social media - how to increase profitability whilst saving time
Many times I have sat down with the person in a company responsible for managing their social media accounts, only to hear the same old refrain - 'it feels like social media is taking over my life!' I know the feeling. The constant need to be online, to instantly respond, and to create eye-catching, original content at least once a day can leave you feeling exhausted and squeezed for time. All the while the question in the back of your head remains - 'is anyone really noticing?'
The fact of the matter is that the online world is increasingly saturated with companies and brands trying to grab our attention. In such a crowded environment it is easy to start thinking that constant engagement is the only way to compete. But I am here to tell you the opposite. Some savvy planning and thought-through tactics can reduce your time spent online dramatically. Not only that but I can guarantee your posts will start performing better too.
So here they are, five top tips to make managing social media more manageable.
Know your goals
If you spend a bit of time at the beginning of each quarter assessing your goals on social media and planning how to reach them, you will cut a lot of time spent pursuing avenues which lead you nowhere. For example, if you know one of your goals is to increase enquiries through social media by 50% in the next six months, you are immediately motivated to start ending more posts with the call-to-action 'why not drop us a message?' Your posts will become a coherent narrative with a clear focus rather than a mish-mash of waffle depending on whatever inspiration hits you on the day. Plus you won't be scrabbling around for ideas when you're sat at your desk. Instead you will have a firm starting-point from which to start crafting content.
2. Focus in on your audience
Once again, quality wins over quantity. It is better to have a few well-targeted posts which hit the mark than a whole host which land all over the place. So spend a little time researching your target audience. For example, if we are selling construction materials B2B, our target audience is more likely to be on Twitter than Instagram, and our tweets will probably get the most engagement during the working day. However if we are a coffee shop or artisan bakery seducing millennials with avocado toast, then Instagram is exactly where we should be, and late afternoons, evenings and weekends are much more likely to be a success. This concept applies to everything - the kind of hashtags we use, the content of our posts, the frequency and time of posting… with this approach the days of casting the net wide and hoping for a catch are gone.
3. Use scheduling software
Buffer is my personal favourite for Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. This tool allows you to manage three social media accounts for free, and more if you pay for a subscription. You can draft your posts in advance, add links and photos, and schedule exactly when you'd like each one to go out. When it comes to Instagram, I rave about PLANN, a phone app which allows you to experiment with the layout of your photographs, write your captions, and set reminders for posting. (Sadly Instagram doesn't allow third parties to post for them yet, so you will get a reminder through the app, press 'copy and post', Instagram will automatically open with your photo ready to go, and you simply paste the caption). Because Instagram is such a visual platform, being able to plan the layout of your images in your feed is key.
These tools give you much greater flexibility when it comes to organising your time. You can block out an hour or two in your week to get all your posts scheduled. Or you can spend a few minutes at the beginning of each day setting your posts up for the rest of the day, and then get on with everything else you have to do. Just remember to check in a couple of times each day to respond to any comments!
4. Use social listening tools
If you were to have a conversation but only talk, never listen, it wouldn't be very engaging for anyone else, and you would have no way of knowing if what you were saying is relevant. The same is true with social media. We've all seen those businesses who send out and endless stream of salesy posts talking about themselves, but never engage in the wider conversation. Social listening will help you hear what others are saying and join in the discussion. Luckily there are some free tools to make this super easy.
My go-to is Hootsuite, which allows you to monitor what is happening on three social media platforms for free. You can set up streams to monitor specific search terms, accounts or hashtags. For example you could set up a stream to monitor all the mentions of your own company, a stream with all your competitors accounts, or a stream for a particular hashtag which is common in your industry. Then all you need to do is spend a few moments each day checking in and seeing what people are talking about in those different streams. You can comment and engage with what they are saying, and also make your own posts relevant to the conversation.
5. Understand your analytics
As Einstein is thought to have said, "the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results." If your content on social media is underperforming, then it's time for a change! But without looking at your analytics, it will be hard to know how to improve. Each social media platform has a wealth of data about which posts have performed best on different indicators such as reach or engagement, what times of day your audience is online, and even the demographic of your audience. Use this information to see what works and what doesn’t, and do more of one and less of the other! You can also run some simple tests - try posting similar posts at different times of day, or try different kinds of content, and see which performs better. If you do this kind of testing consistently, it won't be long before you have a wealth of knowledge about your most valuable content. This will pay off in the long run, because I can guarantee that two posts which generate some good ROI are much more valuable than five which generate none.
And that's the main point here, friends. It's all about quality over quantity. This approach won't only save you time in the long run, it will improve the effectiveness of your social media marketing, build greater trust in your brand, and ultimately increase your sales.