This post was originally given as a session at Podcamp Pittsburgh X. You can see the full video here.
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Many businesses have a love/hate relationship with social media marketing. They love the exposure, the cost, and the reach with their customers but they hate having too many options, getting drowned out, and the time they have to invest to make it work.
How do we break this horrible cycle?
Start small, get seen, and be smarter with your time.
Problem 1: There are too many social media outlets.
Let’s tackle the four major ones first. Facebook is great for reconnecting old friends, but businesses struggle with Facebook because of the fees. Your business page is essential for videos, photos, and longer posts. However due to Facebook wanting you to buy advertising space most of the time you cannot reach your full amount of followers.
Twitter is a cocktail party where everyone is shouting. This is its good and bad point. You have a huge audience (not just followers), but you can get lost if you don't talk enough. You only have 140 characters so what you say has to matter. Photos and videos work in Twitter to help in catching the attention of your audience.
Instagram is designed for photos and short videos. This has a lot of potential because you are being seen no matter what. Your followers see the entire feed and can interact and through other apps, like Repost, they can share your photos and videos. The only downfall to Instagram is that it doesn't have as many people as Facebook and Twitter.
Pinterest is a great tool for brick and mortar and if you create something. The number one audience member in Pinterest is still women that love to shop. Another bonus is they just added a "Buy" button to the boards of businesses so there is no need to go to Etsy and search for your item. Simple.
I suggested the four main ones, however new outlets are opening almost daily. They can be hard to keep up with. Snapchat, Periscope, and Google+ are a few of the more popular ones, but starting with a plan for any of these four should work great.
Problem 2: Getting Seen
One of the biggest problems I see is that business are getting lost in the streams. Businesses feel like they have no one listening and they have no idea what to even post on social media.
Engage with the customer. Don't just spew out facts about you or your business. Ask questions. Ask your audience for likes or retweets. Get them with a question and reward with an incentive. Example: ask the audience to share a photo of your latest sale item with one of the shares receives 5% off their next order.
Try something new. If you only use text; add a picture or video. Stuck on photos, but want to make a video? Try Periscope or Instagram.
Post more frequently. If you feel like you’re are getting lost in the streams the answer is to post more. I know it sounds like you are pestering your audience but the first 100 people who saw that photo may not be the same as the second 100 people. Post it again and do the same tomorrow.
In Twitter you can post about 7-10 times a day. Just remember to say something different; even if you say the same thing it may take up to 30 posts before someone notices. As long as what you are posting isn't time sensitive you can go back and repost old blog posts and even old photos or videos.
If you feel like this is too much work or time (see next section) then you can pay for your posts to be seen. This mainly applies to Facebook where you can set a budget to go along with how many people see your post. Try it out posting a lot first and then paying for posts and see which one works better for your business.
It's important to not dwell on the numbers and appreciate the followers you do have. Thank them for the follows, share, and retweets. They will feel like they can reach out to you at any point and you now have a relationship. Thanking them on social media is like a handshake and a high five at the same time.
Problem 3: Time, Time, Time
You have a business to run. No time to mess around on Twitter to get the word out. How does this even fit in to your day, week, and even month?
Scheduling out social media posts can be a way to get your content out there while still being able to focus on other things in your business. Two popular schedulers are Hootsuite and Buffer, but there are others. Schedulers allow you to enter in posts for Facebook, Twitter, and other accounts depending on which ones you use.
The biggest catch to scheduling out your social media is that you still need to engage with the people who are reaching out to you. You will still need to check on your social media platforms at least once the day. I would only suggest setting a timer and checking it. When the timer goes off you stop and go on to other work.
With any type of marketing there is a testing period and a chance to change what you are doing. Each time you try something with social media marketing you should revisit it and see what worked and what didn't. Then adjust, tweak, and try something knew.
Who knows, you may even start saying "Social Media, I don't hate you."
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Amanda is the Chief Editor of BOLD Pittsburgh, an online media outlet that highlights all the cool things to do in Pittsburgh. Amanda is also a mixed media artist with strengths in graphic design, photography, and upcycling. In her spare time she enjoys reading, going out to eat, and watching movies.