A Crash Course in Social Media - Where to Focus Your Time & Building a Strategy
There’s no avoiding it – social media has essentially become the center of our worlds. Chances are, you have a phone in your hand within 10 minutes of waking up in the morning, checking in on your favorite friends to follow, ensuring there are no fires burning in your email inbox, and scrolling through the endless inspiration of photos the internet has to offer.
Social media has changed our lives as consumers, and whether we want to admit it or not, it has equally changed our lives as business owners. These days? Ask any 28-year-old if they would consider hiring someone if they couldn’t find them online. Chances are, the answer is no. Websites have become a non-negotiable, and now, we’ve entered a time where having a social presence is a must as well.
I have met many small business owners in the wedding industry who fully understand the value of social media, and know where they should have a presence. Yet…they don’t. When I ask them why, the answer is almost always “It’s a full time job and I just don’t have the time.” Yes, social media can be a full time job if you let it, but it doesn’t have to be. Start with a solid plan, and grow from there.
Here’s what you should know when sitting down to build your social media strategy.
KNOW THE MAJOR PLAYERS
Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Periscope, Vimeo, VSCO, Pinterest, LinkedIn, YouTube, Google+, Flikr, Vine, Tumblr - the list goes on and on. Which is right for you?
Honestly? The one, two or three platforms you will actually use. Consistently.
Once you’ve selected the profiles you’d like to focus on, there are a few steps to keep yourself using the platforms to their highest potential. First things first, unlink your accounts! Each one of the social platforms is best suited for different things, so pushing your Instagram posts to your Facebook and Twitter accounts isn’t doing you any favors. You need to make sure that the content you are spending the time and effort to create is actually going to have an impact.
Make sure that you are creating content that is specific to the platform you are sharing it on. What do I mean? Let’s get into this:
LONG FORM VS. SHORT FORM
You have 140 characters to get your point across on Twitter, but you could ramble on forever on Facebook. You have 1 image to catch people’s eye on Instagram but you could share an album of 200 photos on Facebook. Do you see the pattern? Facebook is considered to be a long form social media channel while Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest are very much short form.
The amount of time you have to catch your reader’s attention is the same with both forms (you literally have seconds to do so) but the tools you have available are different. So, as you sit down to share something, ask yourself, “Is this image powerful enough to grab people’s attention or would it tell a better story in an album?” or “Can I get my point across in just a few words or do I need to spell it out a bit more?” Which leads me to my next point.
VISUAL VS. TEXT DRIVEN
This might be obvious, but I see mistakes all the time – some social media platforms are visually driven and others by text. You’re might be thinking, “Yeah, thanks captain obvious!” but how many times do you scroll through your Instagram feed and see posts with Moby-Dick sized captions? You know, the ones that are so long that you don’t ever read? This is the mistake that I am talking about. Don’t force text on a platform that is not meant for it and vise versa, don’t flood conversational platforms with images.
KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE
Now that I’ve got you thinking about what to share, let’s talk about WHO you are sharing it with. Have you taken the time to know who your audience is? Some of the basic demographics you should know about your audience are:
How old are they?
What percentage are male and what percentage are female?
When are they most active on social media?
Where do they live?
Are they mostly other planners or industry related, or are they brides looking for inspiration?
If you don’t already know the answers to these questions, take an hour out of your time to introduce yourself to the people you are building a relationship with, or scroll through the followers you’ve collected up until now. Once you have finished this bit of research, take the time to dive deeper and get to know what their problems are or what services they need, and then you can build your strategy around answering their questions before they have to ask them.
KNOW YOUR BRAND
You need to know exactly who you are. Your brand identity needs to be well thought out, consistently portrayed, and (most importantly) authentic. Remember those millennials who think it’s weird if you’re not online? They also don’t like being “sold to”, so creating a social media personality that is authentic and human is a must.
As you build your social media strategy, be thoughtful about your profiles and the stories they are telling. Be sure to showcase your vision, your mission, and why it is you do what you do so that your audience connects with your brand. Your goal should be to clearly state what sets your brand apart while being approachable and communicating the value of your services or product.
KNOW YOUR RESOURCES
This is where you have to ask yourself, “How much time and effort do I realistically have to spend on social media?” And be super honest because you have to build a strategy that you can actually execute. So, before you run off and start cranking things out, ask yourself these questions:
How much time do I have to spend on creating a calendar and content for my social media accounts?
Do I have the right tools to do create content (i.e. cameras, software, writing skills, etc.)?
Do I have clear goals that I can achieve by being on social media?
If I don’t have enough time to do this alone, do I have the resources to bring on someone to help?
In the end, your social media strategy means nothing if you’re unable to keep it up. Spend the time strategically planning at the start, build a calendar or schedule for posting, and your execution will be considerably more smooth. A strategy is nothing if you don’t do anything with it!