social media for small business

 

Now that you have your marketing and social media plans (and if you don’t or have missed the links, pop on over now for a catch up) I thought it might be good if I made your life slightly simpler by showing you how to manage your social media for your freelance business.

If you’re running a small business then it’s possible that you’re the only person in the business and you haven’t gotten around to – or can’t afford – employing a VA.

If the thought of having to manage social media on top of everything else has you in a panic, here are a few tried and tested tips to make it as easy as possible.

I promise you. I don’t have a VA. I am Apricot Ginger. Murdo may be ‘the Apricot one’ – and  he’s cute but not very helpful when it comes to admin.

So, the starting point to make your social media life as easy as possible is….

Drum roll please…

 

AUTOMATION

 

Yes, it’s true that the golden rule for social media is to ‘be present’ (well, it’s possibly not THE golden rule – that’s probably ‘be interesting and relevant’) but for the purposes of this post, please be clear. I am NOT advocating that you just set up everything to run automatically without ever checking in.

You MUST check in with your social media accounts at least once a day.

(As a rule of thumb, I generally check in around 2 or 3 times a day for around 10 minutes at a time).

However, the key to helping you to manage social media when you ARE the business – is to set up some automation to help you to generate a continual buzz around your social media activity.

I am literally going to go through this step by step, so if you’re a social media whizz you might just want to hop on over here to pick up and download my free Tweet Planner & Scheduler printable.

If not, just follow the steps below and you will be up and running and raring to go on your social media channels of choice in no time.

Now, you have probably figured out that I am something of a Twitter fan (here’s one reason why).

Trust me when I say that people who know me in real life are astounded that I can keep anything to 140 characters but my ability to talk at length aside, I love Twitter. So I will focus mainly on that today – although I’ll cover a bit about Pinterest and Facebook too.

In case you missed it, I recently created Free Printables page on Apricot Ginger. It’s just the start but I will be adding to it over the coming weeks. But it includes a handy Tweet Scheduler.

So, the first thing you need to do to get your Twitter on track is hop on over there now, and download your free printable (no email sign in required. Just click on the image).

Done that? OK, welcome back.

Now, the next thing you want to do is subscribe to an RSS service like Feedly or bloglovin’

If you have already – terrific. If not, I’ll wait here.

Fill up your subscriptions lists with related businesses, interesting news articles – and any other blogs that are either similar to or complimentary to, your own freelance business.

Don’t worry. You don’t need to sign up for all of your blogs in one go. Start with 10 or so and keep building on the list from there.

I use Feedly the most – although I do have a bloglovin’ account – and I have all of my subs listed under different headings like Blogging (for blogs about – you guessed it, blogging); DIY (I do love a spot of home decorating): Entrepreneurship… you get the picture.

how to manage your social media
Snapshot of my Feedly homepage

 

So, now that you have your Feedly or bloglovin’ account set up, you want to sign up to Hootsuite. All of these are free by the way, or at least have a free entry level version (and I only use the free stuff myself – it’s all good).

Sign up to Hootsuite and make sure that you add in all of the social media channels that you are on. I have Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn on mine. I post direct onto Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook.

how to manage your social media
My Hootsuite dashboard

 

You can automate Facebook via Hootsuite, but to be honest, you’re better doing it through Facebook’s own scheduler as it (FB) prefers that. I suspect it’s all a way of making sure we all use Facebook but, whatever the reason, if you’re posting to Facebook, I suggest that you schedule those messages direct.

OK, so you’ve now signed up to Feedly and Hootsuite and you have your trusty Tweet Scheduler in hand.

Now, you want to go through your own posts and your Feedly subscriptions and find interesting content to share.

Obviously, the Tweet Scheduler has been created with Twitter in mind, but you can also send some messages to other channels. Just make sure you’re not using Twitter handles or hashtags in those messages as it will be obvious you’re just bulk scheduling the same messages.

Set up all of your messages for the week ahead this way – or you can do more if you want – and then you have the backbone of your social media messaging for the week ahead.

Simples.

The whole thing will probably take you a while the first time that you do it. I’d give yourself a couple of hours while you fiddle about with it, but once you get in the swing of it all, this shouldn’t take more than an hour. I usually do mine at the weekend.

Now, the key to making this work is to make sure that you still check in EVERY DAY.

You will have to respond to comments or thank people for retweeting your messages. You should also be checking your new followers and deciding whether or not to follow back. (Remember, followers are about quality not quantity so don’t feel you have to follow everyone who follows you – if they’re spammy, don’t bother. And so what if they then unfollow you? They were unlikely to be clients anyway).

Repeat the same exercise for your Facebook messages for the week and you’re all set up and ready to go.

how to manage social media for a small business

TIPS:

Tell people when you share their content – so + them in Google+ shares, use their Twitter handle in tweets, let them know in blog comments that you’re sharing. It means that they will know when their content is being shared and, while it might not result in any shares of your own stuff to begin with, it will get you on their radar (so it’s a good strategy for potential clients or partners).

Check in with social media EVERY DAY. Don’t just trust to automation. I have been guilty of not practising what I preach – especially when I’ve been really busy – but if you don’t respond to people, if you never thank anyone for retweeting your content, or worse, if you are sending out messages that are now irrelevant because of real world events that have happened since you set them up to run, people will soon get fed up with you and will stop engaging. After all, how can you have a conversation with someone who is never there?

Make sure your branding is consistent across all of your platforms. The trick here is to become easily recognizable wherever you are on social media. Start off by using the same profile picture across all of your social media. While your messages can (and should) be different for each platform they should still be ‘on brand’.

Use apps to make your life easier:

Hootsuite is great for automation across a range of social media platforms

Tailwind is a fantastic app that schedules your pins on Pinterest (it’s paid but starts at a low $9.99 per month). You can also share these scheduled pins on Facebook and Twitter – although they will obviously have come from Pinterest.

Pocket is a new app (new for me at least) that you can use to save content that you come across on line to read later. I haven’t tried it out yet, but have had it recommended to me twice this week so I will be checking it out. It is one to add to the arsenal and, while not an RSS feed, sounds as though there’s potential there to gather more information to help you to add even more interesting content into your messages.

Feedly & bloglovin’ – sign up for one or both and collate all of your favorite blog RSS feeds in the one place for easy reading.

 

So those are just a few tips to help you manage your social media more easily with the limited time that you have available. What are your favorite time saving social media apps? Let me know in the comments and I’ll add them to the list!

 

 

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