Social media can be overwhelming and scary; it can be daunting to get started. However, to begin with a plan and map out all your ideas and potential strategies will benefit you immensely.
A plan will help your team or team member focus on your businesses end goals and build a path to follow to reach these goals
With no clear path, reaching your goals will prove tougher and more challenging than ever. That’s why, when it comes to social media, a plan outlining all details of actions you need to take is one of the most important things. It’s all about defining the strategy and the route you’re going to take.
Remember, you’re not going to stay strict to your plan all the time. Social media has leeway to be fun and personable, getting involved in discussions and so on. The most important things to remember are maintaining your voice and character, adding value to people’s lives with your content, and any other significant factors in your plan that guide you towards your goals.
Your Social Channels
First and foremost, you must decide where you’re going to be active. You need to discover the social channels that are going to be most beneficial to you - essentially, the ones your audience are on. There are other factors to consider, too…
As mentioned, you need to take into consideration where your audience are and what channels they use the most. With this information, you can then be certain on your decision for your presence on channels. A presence on channels where your audience are less active can simply be a waste of your time, you need to be efficient with your time so therefore need to be efficient with what channels you’re spending your time on.
This comes down to your team and the time you have to dedicate to the social channels you choose to be active on. It’s about being honest and making a decision on what time can be devoted to each channel each day. This then leaves a suitable amount of time to stay active, post, communicate, but also focus on other commitments too.
You may think a channel will work for you - but do you have the resources to make it work? For example, Instagram requires a large amount of nice and attractive imagery, do you have the resources needed to find this imagery? Think honestly about what you can and can’t do, and what may be a hindrance, and then make an informed decision.
If you’re struggling to see where your audience are, you can do some secondary research and find what others have said about the demographics of each social channel. This gives you an insight of who’s using what and what channels are popular with what demographic.
Once you’ve made your final decisions on where you’re going to be active, your next job is to completely fill out your profiles.
This means taking on the job of visuals on your profiles and any bio sections that give information about you. The more interesting and eye-catching you can make your profile, the better. It will be the first impression people get of you - so you’ve got to make it worth it.
For your visuals, it’s important to get attractive and effective images as well as making sure they’re optimised and the correct sizing for the specific channel
The three main social channel banner sizes are: Facebook (820 x 462 pixels), Twitter (1500 x 500 pixels) and LinkedIn (1584 x 396 pixels). Profile icon sizes are: Facebook (180 x 180 pixels), Twitter (400 x 400 pixels) and LinkedIn (400 x 400 pixels). These are all rough sizes, but making sure your visuals on your profiles are around these sizes will simply make the images the best quality they can be. Your images also need to be visually appealing and spark some sort of interest. Make sure they are relevant to you as a business, and try to make sure visitors to your profiles can get some sort of impression of you instantly from the visuals.
Then it’s about the text on your profiles - your text needs to be just as compelling as your visuals are
Your words need to portray what your business is, what services you provide, your beliefs and values, and anything else you’d like to convey. The text needs to grab people’s attention immediately and make them aware of you. Be sure to only write as much as you see fit, as you could come across as overwhelming if you begin writing your autobiography on your social profiles. Write as much as needed to tell people a little about you and your work; just enough to entice them and get them interested.
Using keywords in your text can make your profile more visible to a wider audience. When people search the keyword, your profile will come up. This essentially means you’re increasing your profile’s ability to reach more people immediately.
Your Voice and Tone
At this point, you may think you’re ready for posting. However, you’re not quite there yet. You have to familiarise yourself with your potential voice and tone.
On social media, you have to project who you are and your beliefs and values
You have to create a persona and stick to this persona. The thing about social media is that people enjoy personalities. People enjoy others being real and showing their human side. It may be obvious, but people connect with people. It’s very important to build connections and relationships with your potential customers, and these connections will be made easier if you’re true to yourself and show your personality.
There are certain things you can do, questions you can ask, etc. to build up your persona properly. You may think you already know your persona but writing down what you want to be and how you want to come across will benefit you in so many ways. Do tasks such as…
Asking yourself what your personality is, and writing it down
Thinking about what relationships you want with your audience
Describing what you don’t want your personality to be/come across as
Think about how you want your audience to view you
Throughout the whole of your social media journey, you need to remember your voice and tone and implement it at all times. The more you stay true to your voice and personality, the more positive and approachable you’re going to seem.
Your Posting Strategy
This is probably going to be one of the steps that you will be constantly altering and updating. It’s all about experimenting and using data to make decisions about when to post, how often, what to post, and so on. All audiences are unique, meaning you’ve got to find your own unique posting strategy.
What should you post?
As mentioned, all audiences are unique and different. This means all audiences are going to like and engage with different content. It’s all well and good knowing what general content works for Facebook for example, but you need to experiment and determine what content your audience like the most and what they want from you. It may be as simple as just asking the question and allowing your built up audience tell you what content they prefer seeing from you.
How often should you post?
Now, this one is actually pretty generic. Of course, it’s still a matter of finding what works for your audience and using data to determine this. However, there are basic guidelines that have been correlated from research…
Facebook: 1 - 2 times a day
Instagram: 1 - 2 times a day
Instagram story: 8 - 16 stories, twice per week
Twitter: 3 - 10 times a day
LinkedIn: 1 - 2 times a day
Pinterest: 5 - 10 times a day
Snapchat: 5 - 20 times a week
All these are very generic and may not be effective for you, but they’re a good place to begin and experiment with. If you then can see that it does not work, switch up your strategy and try new things.
When should you post?
People are not going to be active on social media channels all the time. It’s about determining when your particular audience are online and when to post so they see it and engage with it. Over time, you will be able to see what posting times are most popular and what time gets you the most engagement or communication. However, for now, here’s another generic guideline you could begin following…
Facebook: 1 - 4pm, weekdays
Instagram: 5 - 6pm, weekdays, 8pm, Mondays
Twitter: 1 - 3pm, weekdays
LinkedIn: 7 - 8:30am and 5 - 6pm, Tuesday’s, Wednesday’s and Thursday’s
Pinterest: 2 - 4pm and 8 - 11pm, weekdays with weekends being the best
Google+: 9 - 11am, weekdays
Of course, all of these factors need experimenting with so you can find the best answer for all for your audience. When you find the best answers, you can really optimise your social media performance.
This is to be done once you have implemented all your plans. It’s all about analysing and measuring your performances and determining what’s working and what’s not.
You need to set yourself goals that you want to reach
You also will need to set yourself time frames in which to monitor these goals and see how your social media performance is helping you reach these goals. Another important thing to define is the metrics you’re going to use and follow, this way your reports going forward are all going to show the same things and you’ll be able to see your continuous improvement.
Analysing will help you to implement this continuous improvement. Without analysing, you’re not going to be able to see the bigger picture and see what’s working well, or what’s not working so well.
Before you think about posting on social media, you’ve got to think about your social media plan. You’ve got to have covered all aspects to ensure you know what you’re doing and how you’re going to implement it. Parts of your social media plan are going to be a continuous, ongoing cycle but even so it’s important to outline them before going ahead.
Social media is very important in building up connections with new people
It allows people to communicate and connect with you. It shows people the personality behind the business. Social media is a place where you can share your knowledge but also build relationships with people in a real and authentic way.
It might all sound very nice and fluffy, but social media is a lot of work. It’s about experimenting and using data to decide what works best and what is the most effective way to utilise each platform for your particular audience.