It's critical to note – and you'll see this in the articles above – that the need for social media posting varies from platform to platform. But what you won't see is that it's also different for every business. It’s on you, the business owner, to test and measure the effectiveness of your social media efforts.
Oh man, that sounds daunting, doesn’t it?
Here’s the good news: I’ve created a clear and concise guide to help launch your social media program. The guide outlines a few simple steps to get your social media program rolling so you don’t have to start from scratch. And – BONUS – there's a simple guide to testing and measuring included with the guide. For the record, this guide isn't exhaustive. There are a ton of things you CAN do to get your social media strategy up and running. The guide is meant to be a simple plan that might work for your business.
(The following steps assume that you know your customer well. If you don’t, start with creating personas.)
Step 1: Start Somewhere with Social Media
Pick three platforms to experiment with. I recommend people start with the big three because they get the most traffic and have the most robust tools:
Step 2: Create a Rough Social Media Calendar
Pick quarterly, monthly and weekly themes that you want to highlight on a regular cadence. As an example, let’s say you’re selling ice cream. Here’s a sample social media calendar:
Step 3: Make the Social Media Content
Your social media should point to something. In a perfect world, that “something” should be on your website, so whatever you do in social media drives people back to you. That said, there are numerous types of posts that will help benefit and build your brand! Here are some ideas you can use to generate your own assets, and some to help curate content that is complementary to your business:
How many social media updates do I need to do?
I bet you’re still asking yourself “OK, but how many social updates do I need to do a day?” The answer is: it depends. For some of my professional services clients, we schedule five tweets a day, three LinkedIn updates a week, two Facebook posts a week and one Google Plus post a week. We pull that content from three individual links that live on the client's website and reliable resources that offer articles that complement their products and services. We created that plan based on a combination of best practices (see the resources I posted at the beginning) and testing.
Step 4: Make Social Media Images
Statistics show that using images in social media exponentially increases engagement, so you’re going to need an image for every post you create. Sometimes images auto populate, but they’re not always proportioned correctly for the platform – and they may not represent your message as well as images selected and cropped by you. Not to worry, this is easier than it seems! You need three things to win here:
Step 5: Schedule Your Social Media Content
Wondering how often to post? Refer to the links at the beginning of the post. But let’s talk about how to schedule your social media content. The first step in this process is to figure out the best way to get your content online.
Native Scheduling Vs. Scheduling via Third Party Tools
Some people swear by posting on the native platforms (that means the platforms that the post will end up on, like posting Facebook updates through Facebook, LinkedIn through LinkedIn, etc.) because there’s a myth that platforms punish people who post through third party applications. Some people love the convenience of posting to multiple platforms from a tool like Hootsuite, Sprout Social, Buffer and those types of tools. Really the choice is yours; your decision will likely be dictated by budget and resources.
As I mentioned, there’s a myth that using third party tools are punished by platforms and their posts are deprioritized, but that’s not my experience. For me it’s about ease and I prefer to post from a third party tool so I can keep the scheduling straight for all of the different platforms in one spot. Gain agrees with me, but they’re also a third party tool, so take that with a grain of salt.
Search Engine Journal recently put together a list of the Top 15 Social Media Management Tools that might be helpful to you if you decide to go the third party route.
Step 6: Measure and Adjust
Get started by posting regularly for 6-8 weeks, to get a baseline of how your social media efforts are landing. That baseline will tell us what works within those parameters.
After you’ve got 6-8 weeks of data, get a piece of paper or a whiteboard or a giant sticky note where you can document your important learnings. This will turn into a best practices list for your specific business.
On your paper/ white board/ giant sticky, note identify the following:
Ok, now you’ve written down some important information and we need to make it work for you.
Track your learnings and keep experimenting with times and dates and content types to find out what works best for you!
Good news! You won’t regret creating a consistent social media schedule. The benefits extend from branding, customer service, advertising, lead generation, and HR to content promotion, marketing, research and development, competitive analysis and SEO. In fact, Sprout Social released a HUGE guide on the benefits of social media recently that you might find helpful.
I'm a veteran digital marketer whose career has grown up with the Internet.