Running a business is a lot of work. No matter what stage of business you are in, there are likely more things to do than you have time on any given day. And it’s also pretty likely that one of the topics that lurks around on your ongoing list has the heading ‘Social Media’.
Social media is (potentially) a huge blessing for businesses today. Platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Twitter provide a way for businesses to share who they are, what they do and how they make a difference with not just customers or neighbors, but with the whole world. Social media provides businesses with a way to be present in the lives of our ideal customers and clients, to share useful tools and products, and to really connect with people we maybe wouldn’t be able to reach otherwise.
But for all the good that it brings, social media comes with a whole bunch of baggage that each business needs to figure out how to navigate effectively in order to actually be able to reap the potential benefits.
Social media raises so many questions that need to be answered – from ‘Which platforms should we be on?’, and ‘How often should we post?” to “How do I find the right audience?” and “What does our audience actually want to see from us?”, and then some. And on top of all the questions to be answered, each platform comes with it’s own set of rules, regulations, formats and best practices that need to be learned (continuously!).
The prospect of navigating social media can be enough to make any business owner, business person, and really, any regular human being want to go hide somewhere without internet access.
But maybe don’t turn off your device and head out for the woods just yet…
As a business person, as a business owner, as a regular human being, you should know that you are the boss of your social media. Yes, there are a million things you could be doing to promote your business, on 10 different platforms, 15 times a day. But that doesn’t mean you have to do those things, or really, even that you should.
What you do on social media is up to you – you are the boss.
You don’t have to be on every platform.
You don’t have to post 12 times a day.
You get to decide what’s right for your business (and your sanity).
So, sounds great!
But, how on earth do you go forward as the boss?
In my own businesses, and when I work with others who own or are a part of small businesses as a coach, I use a series of simple questions and steps to drive social media strategy at any given moment. The ultimate goal of these questions and steps is to create a social media process that not only suits your business and helps you grow your reach and visibility, but that you can actually manage, day to day, without losing your mind!
Step 1: Pick ONE platform to focus on for right NOW.
Maybe your business is on one platform already. Maybe you are on 5. Maybe you are not on any. It doesn’t matter where you are. For now, pick one to really focus on.
Not sure how to choose? Ask yourself these two questions:
- Which of the platforms seems like a good fit for what our business does?
- Which of the platforms that we’re considering seems like a good fit for me?
It’s okay if you aren’t sure which platform is the ‘best’ for your business. Pick one that you think could potentially be a good fit. It doesn’t need to be perfect (let go of that pressure!). And please, choose a platform that you, the person who will be spending their time on that platform, is actually okay with spending time on! It just makes the whole thing that much easier to do!
Step 2: Figure out what you know/need to know/want to do.
Once you have your platform, take a little time and figure out what you actually know about how it works. How do you interact with it? How does promoting your business work?
Figure out what you know, for sure, and then consider what you might need to know in order to use that platform effectively.
Finally, consider what you want to do with the platform. Are you going to use it to connect directly to potential customers? Share your work? Look for inspiration? Do you want to share pictures? Tools? Conversations?
Once you have a sense of what actually know, need to know, and want to use the platform to do, think about how you can learn what’s needed to move forward.
Some options? You might:
- Find and work with someone who is an expert in that platform
- Take a course about that platform
- Research best practices and industry standards
Pick one, or two, or more and get learning! As you start learning, move to Step 3…
Step 3a: Set a goal and dive in!
You don’t need to know everything about the platform to start using it.
Now that you know enough to be dangerous, pick a goal – maybe it’s posting once a day, or maybe it’s posting 4 times a week. It’s okay if your goal doesn’t match the best practice for the platform (it might eventually, but it never has to), be patient with yourself and keep your work manageable.
Step 3b: Be consistent. Be consistent. Be consistent.
Let’s say it again. Be consistent. If your goal was to post 4 times a week, post 4 times a week. If you goal was to engage 5 new people a week, engage 5 new people. And just keep doing it.
Take some time, maybe a month, maybe more, until what you have been working hard at doing consistently starts to feel like it’s coming more easily, more naturally, more automatically. Be consistent until you are comfortable with your platform, and it feels like you are in a place, on that platform, where you might just be ready for a little bit more…
Then move to Step 4.
Step 4: Step up your game.
Now that you are comfortably meeting your goal on your chosen platform, it’s time to level up.
How? That’s up to you (you’re the boss!).
Need some ideas? You might:
- Increase the frequency of posts, or add in a new type of content
- Choose a tool to help you set up a more streamlined process for your platform
- Create ads or paid posts on your platform
- Choose a different platform to add to your repertoire, and engage in a new way
Then, follow the same steps, all over again, from Step 2. Consider what you know, need to know, and want to do. Choose a new goal, and work at it consistently.
And hooray! You have become the boss of your social media!
How long should all this take? It’s different for everyone, but it’s not going to happen overnight, and that’s okay. Sometimes, it might take 4 – 6 weeks to get from Step 1 to Step 4. For me, in my businesses, I think of these steps by season – I tackle on new platform/social media goal each fall, winter, spring, and summer. No matter how long you take, just make sure to take the time that makes sense for you to learn, to get comfortable, and to allow your new goal to become old hat before you move on to the next thing.
Keep in mind that the ‘big’ goal is to use social media as a tool to help grow your business’ reach and visibility, and to not feel lost, overwhelmed, or like you might lose you mind in the process.
Remember, you are the captain of the ship, and it’s up to you to decide where the ship goes, and when it will arrive – you’re the boss!
Sara Torpey coaches business of all shapes and sizes on getting organized, and getting focused, so they can get to growing. She works with clients to create smart, manageable structures and processes that allow them to create the time and space needed to actually get things done. You can find out more about Sara at http://www.torpeycoaching.com, or reach out to her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.