There's a tonne of info out there on optimising your brand's social media channels, hacking the algorithm, creating top quality content that sets you apart from everyone else. You can wade through that at your leisure.
These are just a handful of tips, based on practical, real-world experience with small businesses, intended to help you get over the fear of posting, to make your life a little easier, and to set your house in order so you don't abandon the attempt after a couple of weeks.
Real world, pragmatic advice only.
1. Start small.
I know there’s a lot of talk about optimum posting frequency, staying constantly visible and trying to work with the algorithm. But the best posting schedule is one that you’ll stick to. There’s no use posting every day for a month and then running out of steam.
Start with once a week (if you can handle it). Find your footing. Refine your tone of voice and learn what your audience responds well to.
Ease into it and ramp things up when you know you’ll be able to stick with it.
2. Think about what platforms you should be on.
Not all social channels are alike. Audiences are different (and their mindset certainly is) depending on what platform they're using.
If you’re a direct to consumer brand, maybe focus on Instagram or TikTok to build a following. If you’re a professional services or B2B firm, maybe LinkedIn is the best place to get started.
Think about the type of content you might be able to produce that is in keeping with the platform. Does your business lend itself to beautiful imagery? Are you able to share in-depth knowledge that will be of interest to your audience?
Like with frequency, start small. Select the best fit for your business and begin there, only expanding to other channels when you feel you'll be able to stick with it. You don't want a load of silent social channels.
Keep an eye out for an upcoming blog about choosing the right channels for your business. You can subscribe to our newsletter here to make sure you don't miss it.
3. Decide what you want to get out of it.
Sales? New business leads? Brand awareness and engagement? Hiring new talent? Or do you just want existing clients to stop commenting that your social accounts look like your company has folded?
They’re all valid goals, acknowledging them and identifying your priorities early on will help you make the most of your strategy. Having a 'north star' will help you select the right channels and create the right mix of content to achieve your goals.
4. Define your role.
This sounds very high and mighty, but setting out a role for your business in the lives of your audience goes a long way towards helping you to work out what sort of content you’ll post, what your tone of voice should be, and how you want to be perceived by your audience.
It should relate to your business, it should allow you to talk about things outside of your immediate business proposition, and it should fall in line with your overarching brand strategy.
You might be a fashion company but your role might be to help people discover new ways to express themselves. This could lead to charity partnerships, brand collaborations, or help guide you towards key cultural moments to capitalise on.
It's unique to you, so I'm afraid you won't find yours on any blog post!
5. Have a structure.
I have a love-hate relationship with process. Too little and things slip quickly. Too much and everything becomes painfully tedious. Balance is essential.
Process here can be split into two parts. Rules and timings.
Rules: Without rules you could post anything at any time, which would be chaos, or you could be spoilt for choice and post nothing, which might be worse.
Rules can include: Content pillars. Roles of channels. Posting schedule. Roles and responsibilities.
All of these rules give you a framework to operate within and actually make the task of coming up with content ideas a lot easier. Especially content pillars.
Timings: Building a brand on social takes time, just like any part of running a business. The task here is to make sure it gets done without taking over your life.
From idea to approval to posting, what steps do you follow to ensure efficiency and quality control?
This is necessarily different for every business, but we recommend trying to distill everything into one weekly session where new content is proposed and, ideally, drafted content is approved. (Be flexible though, opportunity can strike at any moment and sometimes you need to allow for exceptions)
Make sure everyone involved understands the process and has fully bought in. Without the right processes in place, social media can quickly becomes a dreaded chore and will fall by the wayside.
Bonus. Get someone else to do it.
I know that sounds stupid, especially for small business owners, but hear me out.
So many of us cringe at the thought of promoting ourselves or our businesses on social media. It's easy to let the awkwardness of what feels like self-promotion stop us from doing what's right for our business.
By giving the responsibility to someone else, it takes your insecurities out of the equation and negates any hints of imposter syndrome. All you need to do is make sure the responsible party is kept informed, supported and empowered to take on the task.
This could be a member of your team, an outside agency, it could even be a friend or a loved one if you're lucky enough to have someone willing to take it on. You'll soon surprise yourself with how much your business has to offer on social once you get out of your own way!