We hear this A LOT from our clients.
We hear you. We see you. We commiserate with and validate your feelings.
Now...how long has it been since your last post?
Group therapy session for SMH? (social media haters - is that a thing and #wheredoIfindmylocalchapter? ) No, just last Tuesday at 2:30 pm, when another small business client needed to vent about the energy zapper known as social media marketing, how it vexes them, is a nagging nuisance, the last thing on the list.
And guess what - stand back and wait for the drum roll, please - we often agree.
We manage many accounts (and not just Facebook and Instagram but also GMB, Linkedin, Youtube, you name it.), so you can imagine how we feel about it. Personally, our team treats social like many other biz owners, get in and get out. But we can’t always get away with that. Social media engagement is a great way to get the pulse of a situation and inform yourself on how people may react to certain content.
Honestly, we all get burned out. There is a lot of negativity out there, and every channel has its horror story of abuse and improper or downright inappropriate content that gets posted. We tend to focus on the negative, it’s actually in our psychological makeup to do that- probably some kind of evolutionary survival tool. But it can get overwhelming sometimes. The truth is, for every negative story on social, you can find several positive ones. With that in mind...
How do we stay the course when we often get disillusioned and burned out?
Get the Social Media Bully Off Your Back in Four Steps
The truth is that most businesses will not be 'made' on social media.
Yes, you still have to do it.
It's how your customers prefer to learn about the "real" you.
It's how you can hear and see instantaneous feedback without the corporate wall keeping you from your own truth.
It allows you the closest direct contact with your customers other than in person. The DM is actually gaining ground over the email.
It is effective for spreading the word about your product and service.
And... It is also, a great sales and growth tool.
STEP # 1: Define your social media purpose
Brand Awareness, Sales, Motivation, Education?
You’re a small business, you have a lot to do, and social media is just one of many things on that list - no need to let it intimidate, derail or consume your focus. Once you define what the purpose of your social presence is, the SMB (social media bully) - who is just a megalomaniac with no clear identity - will retreat.
So, what is your social media purpose?
If you are a new business or amping up/reinventing your social presence, brand awareness may be your social media purpose. You'll need a good amount of effort getting started- investing time in following others, commenting on posts, and generally letting yourself be known so that others will pay attention to you and follow you back. It's kind of like being the new kid in school; for social survival you need to put yourself out there and make friends so that you can join the lunch table. Because sitting alone at your own table is NOT the kind of awareness that will set you up for success, let alone endear you to others.
While your first instinct may be to just get invited to someone's - anyone's - lunch table, resist that urge. Some degree of initial discernment is called for in choosing which table to hang with, or you may get unfairly pigeonholed, lose credibility, and get stuck at the wrong table indefinitely with no one to trade tuna sandwiches with. In social media terms - DON'T BUY FOLLOWERS! People can tell when you have purchased followers, and this will make you look weak, which leads to not being taken seriously.
Who you follow and who follows you matter. Not that you have to vet every connection,
but do pay attention and use some strategy in creating your target audience and you'll
be on your way to...
Validation & Education
The majority of our small business clients fall into this category. This means:
Social media is a NECESSARY space to occupy, to let the public - existing and especially potential customers - know that you are legit.
Like it or not, social media presence is now akin to a website or logo: you must have a presence on it to validate your business as an actual, legitimate, functioning operation. It's psychological on some level - the public sees you have a handle and you share things; you must not be a phony, so they are more likely to trust you and give you a go. This may seem pretty ironic considering how digital platforms can be abused, masquerading as something they are not to dupe consumers. But you won't be doing that, so let's move on. Remember - we are focusing on the positive here.
You may stay in the education stage, depending on your business, and that is totally fine. You post to stay relevant, not to start a movement. Once you get in the groove and know why you are posting, it will just be another weekly business task - not a crisis of content - which we will get to in a moment.
Social media can be and is an effective sales channel if you utilize ads, calls to action, and when you can, any built in e-commerce stores. Most importantly, sales from social media channels require A LOT of people actually seeing your post and for this to happen, you need to have hundreds of followers unless you plan to pay for boosted posts or ads. For many, they don't have enough followers to warrant focusing on social media as a sales source.
Remember, sales is really a numbers game no matter the channel.
This is super important and quite liberating for many of our clients, easing the stress and shame many have regarding social. For most, social media is the place to plant more seeds about who you are - just one part of the larger picture that identifies your brand - which, in conjunction with your other efforts, leads to conversion. And if you are a business for whom social media is a platform for closing sales, then your purpose is driven by an entirely different strategy. If closing sales is not realistically your number one goal for social media, motivation for and education around your product/service will direct your strategy. In order to keep that momentum up, it's time to...
STEP #2: Define your social media topics
Create content categories that make sense for your business, and follow them.
If you leave your postings to a whim and a chance not only will your content be scattered, you are less likely to post consistently. Do your future self a favor and define 3 or 4 topics that you can refer to in order to generate content, and rotate them consistently- create an itinerary for yourself to follow.
Even extremely broadly defined prompts such as 'what, where, how and why' can help you start forming categories, creating consistency.
WHAT: The facts, please.
What is your product or service. ALL of the versions, iterations and options.
WHERE: Where to purchase or access your product or service and where you do it.
Keep reminding people where to get what you have - all the places if there are several, and all the ways they can get started.
If geography plays a significant role in what you produce, tap into those visuals to feed the narrative. This contributes to the story about your brand.
WHY: Why does anyone need what you have?
Don't assume it is obvious, and don't assume people will find you, just because they might need you, because-
They might now know they need you. This is also where you can create the 'I didn't know I needed that' opportunity.
HOW: Operations, process & behind the scenes of how you do it.
Action oriented posts with your team - inside and outside of your space - makes you real, and can be a fun place to explore the ups and downs of your process.
It is also a place to dispel stereotypes about what you do and what it takes; also, people love a good blooper, assuming it isn't a brand breaker.
The more you can define what question your post answers - what category it falls into - the more you will realize you DO have plenty of content, and creativity will follow.
STEP #3: Identify your social media tools
Whole industries have been created to assist people in tackling their social media. Find what works for you.
Having no tools to help you get your social done makes the prospect of doing it overwhelming. Looking into all of the tools out there to help can also be overwhelming.
You only need one or two tools to take the pressure off. We could do a whole blog on tools, for now, let's stick to some basics that can come to the rescue fast.
Use A Scheduler
Creating one off posts is draining, and makes you more likely to skip them, creating a signal of inconsistency around your brand. Using a scheduler helps you to focus and condense this task into a block of time where you can get your content and your head ready.
Use a scheduler to get out in front of the task and to create your social media posts for a week, two weeks or even a month if you can. After you create you those content categories from Step #2, plug them into a scheduler on a rotating basis. Then, as one mega brand so efficiently reminds us, just do it - a bunch of times, until the week or month or quarter is all filled up. Your brain will better focus on creating posts as a dedicated task, and you'll be so grateful later.
There are many schedulers out there, with varying degrees of integration. Don't pay for something you don't need or won't use. If you are a nuts and bolts FB/IG poster, the free meta suite scheduler might be just fine. If you use multiple platforms or have more than one social media handle, you may end up with a paid service that allows for frequent posts in many places. There are also many services that are free but with a limited number of posts, and that might be all you need.
Even super creative social media superstars need a break. Jazz up the visual appeal of your content with help from a design tool, such as Canva. You can curate your colors and templates to suit your brand, it is super easy to use, and you might just find yourself having FUN creating content. Start with the free version - this may be all you need!
Sharing is Caring
Take advantage of other people's creativity, just give them credit. It takes a village, and this applies to social media. You can absolutely re-post other people's content, as long as you give them props. If you have customers or other businesses who have mentioned your product or service in posts - capitalize on that! Repost their posts with an app such as...Repost. That was easy. It benefits them as well, since they are also getting a shout out and recognition. This is also another way to let your audience in on who you are and what you notice and follow on social.
STEP #4: Have realistic expectations/don't overthink it
Do you know how many new social media posts appear every minute- no, make that every second? Neither do we, but we think it would hurt our brains to find out.
In other words - your post will most likely stay relevant for a micro moment in the bigger context of the social landscape. That doesn't mean you should be arbitrary - the content never dies, it’s the internet - but don’t treat it like THE make or break moment for your entire brand, every time you post.
Think of it like a business card - you need to have one to be professional - but don’t wring your hands over it as if yours is the only business card out there.
We've seen clients struggle with this and often give up - mostly because they are perfectionists, and we appreciate that. However social media is not the place to employ this superpower. The return on that investment of time simply will not come, and it will deplete your mental resources.
Overthinking content creates a trap that relies on unfulfilled expectations to keep you disillusioned.
This is when clients declare that social media didn't 'work' for their business, and they declare it a waste of time. In this context, what does 'work' actually mean? What exactly were the expectations?
Perhaps, if you had defined your social media purpose (Step #1), you wouldn't find yourself stumped by that question. So get to it, and kick the SMB to the curb like a pro.
Marketing Outpost is a full-service marketing strategy company working with small to midsize independent businesses in the Asheville, Hendersonville, Weaverville and western North Carolina area. Access the full scope of our experience, resources and knowledge with flexible options. With more than 15+ years of experience in marketing in the Asheville area, we can help you Achieve Your Ambition.