Originally posted on Medium.
Okay, so for whatever reason, you ignored your friends’ and colleagues’ advice and you went solo for your social media production. Great, no sweat off my back (even though I know I would have done a great job on your project). And you’re doing okay too… that is until you realized that you don’t really know the first thing when it comes to social media. [Insert funny picture of someone drowning in responsibility/problems].
Sure, you might know social media, but do you know social media. Yeah I didn’t think so. But that’s okay, I’m here to help. Hi there — my name’s Basil, and I do social media for a living. While I cannot and will notclaim that I know everything, I’ve picked up a thing or two. Whether it be through the “pure osmosis” that occurs from being in the field, or the insane amount of social media news/articles that I consume daily, I would say I’ve acquired a good deal of knowledge for someone my age. And with that knowledge I can tell you that if you don’t do social media on a regular basis, you should just go ahead and pay someone else. That’s not a hidden *Will do consulting for you* message or anything.
On the other hand you might be an entrepreneur, a part of a small-medium business, or was just brought into a marketing team of one. If you just started hyperventilating, it’s alright, I did the same thing at my first gig. Trust me *in my best Rob Schneider voice* “You can do it!” And here are five straightforward, and did I mention totally do-able, tips for you to hit the ground running.
- Start with a plan — Just like when you’re on a road trip, you have to know where you’re going and how you’ll know when you got there. This is the most essential (and easily skip-able) step. If you’re like me and your mind moves too fast for you to sit down and think through a truly comprehensive plan, that’s okay — as long as you have something. Even if it’s just a back of napkin, five bullet plan, that’s so much better than nothing. Of course, the better i.e. more specific the plan is, the better your outcomes will be, but I also understand that sometimes you need to use your momentum to do rather than just sit. So before you get started, I challenge you to sit for at least two hours and think about the following: Who is your audience; What content do you want to produce for them; Where (what channels) is this content going to be; When (what times) are you going to post; What action do you want after viewing your content; and Why should your content be important to them. I did the math and that’s 30 minutes a question, that should be a fair amount of time starting out. If that doesn’t help you, take a look at Hootsuite’s 6 Steps on How to Create a Social Media Marketing Plan. It’s a pretty basic guide that can also get you started in the right direction.
- Start small — Start with what’s comfortable. You might think you really need to be on some shiny social tool (whether that’s the “fun ones”: Snapchat, Instagram, or even Pinterest). While it will most likely be beneficial in the long-term, if you jump in without truly understanding the platform, you’ll just be some kid swimming to the deep without his floaties; just gripping the wall. For example, I hate Instagram…okay that’s a strong word but when first using it for my company I truly struggled with posting engaging and relevant content. Once I realized that I was putting more into it than I was seeing come back, I made the decision to do a little more studying up before hitting the throttle. Instead I experimented with content in other channels to get a sense of what might work. It also helped to go to the drawing board with someone (my team) and talk our strategy over. The key takeaway is to make a splash in areas that you have competencies so you can test ideas and know whether they’re working or not. Don’t believe me? Check out this beginner’s guide from the Social Media Examiner; their number 3 rule — “Start, but start small.”
- Engage — Get out there and talk to people… virtually. Just like your always funny, smart, and generally pleasant-to-be-around friend at the cocktail party, you have to put yourself out there! Scratch that, the social media sphere IS just one big cocktail party. I can prove it to you. Earlier this year, my company was attending one of the biggest conferences in our industry. For months leading up to it we were pushing out content about the event and engaging with other organizations (you know the creating a conversation/community stuff you always hear). One day, I come into to the office and in our DMs (Direct Messages) is a message from the organizing group asking me to present on a panel about social media — claiming that he has been following our work and really wanted our team to shed some insights. Let me make this clear, I had no prior knowledge of the gentlemen who approached me, and though our company has been somewhat visible in the past at this conference it was still a big deal for this to happen. I fully believe that my ability to “work the digital room” is the reason for this. Bottom line: If you engage, good things happen. While there are many ways to engage, this Forbes article has a couple of quick tips for doing so, but read that one after you finish this article.
- Check in with your goals — Remember those goals we talked about? Yeah me neither. But seriously, you have to follow up with the goals you set, whether it be weekly/monthly/yearly, you need to check in every once in a while to make sure what you’re doing is working. If it is working then, kudos, give yourself a pat on the back. On the other hand, if it’s not working, then you know that you need to go back and try something new. For me, I usually have formal check-ins with the numbers either quarterly or halfway through the year. However, I take stock of my social media goals informally almost every week. That’s because at my company I’m in charge of the social media digest, which is a weekly email (and soon to-be podcast) about our company’s social media and other higher ed news in the social media landscape. While this goes out to not just myself (I’m not Steven Glansberg), I use this as a method of checking in on my analytics, whether that be Facebook, LinkedIn, or even Twitter. It’s great because that way if I notice any spikes or sharp declines, I can take quick action to remedy the situation or implement that into my future social media plans. Looking back on your goals is a great way to prepare yourself to get ahead, and I’m not the only one who believes it — All of these people from Buffer agree too. So if all the cool kids are doing it, you should too!
- Have fun — What’s the point of doing all of this if it’s not fun? I get it, you probably joined social because of the implications it may have for your business (36% of people won’t even work with you if you don’t have an online presence), but it’s not going be rewarding if you’re not having fun! Whether you’re B2B, or B2C, you can still make your voice authentic, which allows your customers to get to know you and your company. Even more importantly, it builds trust that enables your brand to leverage into a long-term relationship. Think about it, do you want one measly short-term sale, or a fruitful partnership with sustained value over a length of time. Great that’s what I thought.
Now you’re all set, go forth into the world of social media and kick some serious butt! To be honest, there’s no one stopping you from succeeding but you. Take it from my man Gary Vaynerchuk,
“There’s no excuse for not talking to the world”
…And with that I’ll look forward to talking with you next time. Have a great day!