Social media is a vital tool for your small business, but there are so many areas to cover that it’s hard to know which tools are the most important and which tasks you need to complete first.
Sure, there are lots of Facebook Ads from marketing gurus telling you they can solve your problems with one free PDF from their website… but these tend to do more harm than good because they’re too generic.
A content strategy that actually works isn’t just something you can download online, it’s something that needs to suit you, your business and your lifestyle. It’s something that will adapt over time as your work evolves and social media platforms update.
But, what I have found during my 6 years as a social media manager for a huge range of small businesses, is that there are some actions that every business owner can take to optimise your pages and make the most of the content you create.
Here are the 4 most important things you need to focus on first to take your social media strategy from ‘posting aimlessly and getting no response’ to ‘being clear in your messaging and growing an audience that are crazy about your business and dying to work with you’.
There’s one question that never fails to encourage my clients to be more open with me, especially during 1-2-1 Power Hours, and I’d love you to answer this today too:
What is it that holds you back from posting on social media?
The answers to this are varied, for sure, but there is one overarching theme that impacts every single woman I work with (and it is an important one to address before we dig into the finer details of transforming your pages):
She worries whether what she is posting is ‘right’ and what people will think of it.
She worries there are too many things to cover and doesn’t know where to start.
She worries no-one is going to comment on it, or there’ll be a nasty response.
She worries no-one will buy from her and it’ll all be a waste of her precious time.
She worries that talking about herself will come across as arrogant and put people off.
But here’s my advice to you: as long as you’re writing from a good, positive place (which you will be, because you’re lovely), nothing you post can be wrong.
Even if the reach and engagement is low, even if you get no response at all, you will learn from every single post you share and the more you publish. All these results can be put into your strategy for the future, and you’ll find your confidence will grow alongside your audience and reach.
And, once you have found a way to feel more confident, the remaining three areas will be much easier to achieve. You’ll be:
Posting more consistently because there’ll be one less thing holding you back.
Comfortable resting to conserve your energy because you won’t question yourself.
Making loads more connections because your new confidence will attract more people.
Make a note of the things that are holding you back and what you can do to help yourself overcome those.
If you’d like some help from me, The Content Planning Wizard, my best-selling Power Hours are designed to allow you to share the problems you’re experiencing, find a solution for those with me and create a strategy that’s going to make you feel much more confident about your content, your business and yourself.
As with business, consistency is key for success in social media. By this, I don’t just mean showing up every day at a certain time; I mean showing up with a consistent message to help your audience get to know, love and support you (and ultimately want to work with you).
So tell me honestly, do you post consistently?
It doesn’t have to be every single day, but are you posting at least 3 or 4 times a week, every week, with no gaps in content where you have lost momentum with your followers?
If your answer to this is ‘no’, don’t worry. You’re not alone, even I used to be really bad at this!
Despite creating consistent content for my clients’ social media pages, I was terrible at promoting my own business and sharing content daily to tell people what I do. The problem was, I didn’t prioritise doing planning and scheduling my content, believing other areas of my business were more important.
But the truth is, without posting every day I wasn’t building awareness of my business and I wasn’t connecting with potential future clients. So, if the work ran dry (which, let’s be honest, it often does when you're self-employed), I was back to square one: trying to engage with my audience from scratch.
When I launched my business, I knew I needed to show people what I could do, so I set about creating a plan for my own posts. It was during lockdown and I was really fed up of the scaremongering on Facebook, so instead I spent time on Instagram, making sure my grid and my content reflected my brand.
I aimed to post daily and made sure my photos followed my brand colours as much as possible. Later, I added graphics into my content (again, fitting those into a consistent brand) and eventually I used what I’d learned over there to create great content for a new Facebook Group (which now has almost 1k members!)
My follower numbers soon increased, but – most importantly – so did people’s impressions of me and I started to be able to gain clients, recommendations and more. While I’ve not always kept to posting every day, I do believe the consistency in messaging over time has been the key to my success.
You see, once you’re feeling confident in your social media strategy, using that to plan your content ahead of time ensures:
You show up online even when you’re busy with your work or your family.
Your messaging is consistent, so followers don’t get confused over what you are offering.
You can analyse your results effectively and use that to create future content.
You’ll be able to grow relationships with future clients and have them flocking to book your services.
Have a think about what you'd like to post about in the coming weeks and write down at least three content ideas for each week.
Your content plan has begun!
If you’d like some help from me, The Content Planning Wizard, my popular Planning Workshops take place every four or weeks and are designed to help you create a content plan for a whole month. We cover goals, audience and content ideas, helping you feel more confident and post more consistently.
‘Almost everything works better when you unplug it and switch it back on again.’
Whether you’re talking about work, illness or parenting, taking a break is absolutely vital and the same is also true when it comes to social media.
The online space is so busy it’s overwhelming, and creating content consistently can be draining. So it’s no surprise that many business owners reach ‘social media burnout’, which leads to them not posting at all and losing momentum with their audience.
What makes it worse is that spending all this time on social media is taking precious hours away from you being able to work on your business and do the things you actually enjoy and know you’re much better at.
So often I’ve seen women become resentful of creating posts for their pages, they’ve lost the spark of inspiration and it really comes across in their content. If this is something you relate to, I promise your audience will be able to tell and it could put them off wanting to work with you.
That’s why I’ve included the element of ‘conservation’ as one of the most important things you need to include in your social media strategy, which means you need to make sure you find a way to conserve your energy for the things that really matter, like your kids and your passions.
Here are my suggestions for how you can do this:
Make use of the settings on Facebook and Instagram that send you a notification when you’ve spent a certain amount of time using the apps.
Be mindful of the actions you’re taking on social media, i.e., don’t scroll aimlessly, watching Reels for hours!
Set yourself times of the day to go online, I avoid looking at it until my kids have had breakfast, because our mornings are hectic!
Note down any ideas you have for posts that you can use at a later date, this drastically reduces the time you spend planning your content.
Take advantage of days where you are feeling excited about social media and inspired to write posts, the energy will come across in your content.
Have regular days where you don’t post or engage, this can be achieved more easily by planning your content ahead of time and scheduling it to be published.
Go further with that and take a whole week off – I loved having a week with my husband and kids on a boat in the Norfolk Broads where there was no phone signal!
Once you've planned your posts for the next week or two, why not have a day off social media and see how much your energy levels boost when you return tomorrow?
If you’d like some help from me, The Content Planning Wizard, The Content Planning Trello | Content Plan' Wizard (contentplanningwizard.com) is a great place to save content ideas when you are feeling inspired, or to plan your content for future days when you are feeling too tired.
I love a good rant, because I believe it motivates others to get on board and take action. So here’s one of my social media pet peeves for you:
I hate that Mark Zuckerberg has turned social media into a money-making machine that focuses on selling to your audience.
Because that isn’t what these apps were designed to do; they were meant to be a place where you could connect with others, share interests, have conversations and grow relationships.
Social networking – the clue is in the name and too many people have forgotten that.
Too many small businesses, driven by the understandable need to raise an income during very difficult financial times in our society, are focused on how they can ‘sell, sell, sell’ to their audience and they want to take the shortest route to that result.
But when you do that, you are just blending into the crowd, you’re no different to every other business in your field and your followers are going to remain strangers to you, when they could become loyal, repeat customers who sing your praises to others.
Instead, what you need to do is focus on making connections through your content and nurturing them, so you can get to know your potential customers and they can grow to love and support you back.
Showing up confidently and posting consistently are the foundations of being able to achieve this, when people look you up online you want to give them enough information that they decide to follow you and enough excitement that they’re invested in conversations with you.
But taking it to the next level involves making use of these connections and really delivering results for your audience, who will also become your clients. Here’s how to do that:
Make sure your profile contains all the information potential clients need (my social media audits can help with that).
Add a call to action in your posts that directs people to your group, where you can nurture a relationship with them.
Use polls and questions to network with your audience and really get to know them.
Find groups that are filled with your ideal clients and spend time in them every day.
Offer to be a guest speaker in these groups and direct people to your own group to find out more about you.
Direct message new people to your group or those who are the most engaged, but don’t use that function to sell. Get to know what help they need and offer them a solution not a sale.
Make a list of the best five places to connect with your ideal client and commit to spending five minutes a day in each.
These four topics have formed the structure of my ‘52 Ways to Wave a Wand Over Your Social Media pages’ email support chain. These are weekly messages containing easy-to-implement tasks and more detail from me on how to make social media for your business more successful. To sign up, visit my homepage and enter your email address in the box that pops up.