Saturday, 2 November 2013

How to use social to promote your business… and still have time left to run it.

A few years ago it was scary and new, but nowadays social media is very much part of the furniture. All sorts of businesses are using social media to promote their business. Done successfully you can end up with a hugely interactive audience all baying for your attention. But growing your social audience and managing all interactions with them can end up becoming a full time job. So how can you manage your social channels, stay sane AND still have time left over to run your business?

Always having something to say…

Most people don’t have an opinion on everything. You won’t always have a new entry on your blog to share with your audience. And tweeting “Good Morning” every day at 10am isn’t going to get you anywhere (in fact it’s likely to switch a lot of people off). So what do you do to fill the gaps?

  • Favourite good content.
    Do you regularly visit a particular website for information? You do? Good. You can bookmark websites that cover applicable business related subjects (along with other blogs, Twitter accounts, plus pages, etc.) to use as resources for content to share with your audience… no writing required. - 
  • Have some stock content.
    Just had a wave of inspiration? A collection of questions to ask or a host of insightful mantras you want to share? Don’t send them out all at once. Save some for later – for when you don’t have a blog to post or a product to promote. Chances are they’ll be as insightful tomorrow as they are today, so get your time sensitive content out first and save the pearls of wisdom for later.
  • Get more out of each post.
    For the material you write – be it a blog entry, a special product offer or a topical tweet – can you get more social content out of it than the initial share? Can you rewrite your post and give your audience another chance to click-through to your site? Don’t overdo it, but if you have something you want to share with as many people to as possible, you might consider writing two or three different intros to share on your social channels throughout the week.

Managing your content distribution…

No one has ever said: “I really like @JoeBloggs, he tweets a whole week’s worth of messages on Monday morning”. To keep your audience engaged you’re going to want to have an even and consistent presence, rather than bottle necking all of your content into a two hour window. But you can’t be online all day, so how can you manage this feat?

  • Use Buffer.
    If you’re not already using Buffer, you should start. It’s honestly brilliant. The Freemium version will probably take care of your initial needs and it saves you loads of time by sharing you content for you. But best of all it does this when your audience is most receptive so more people see your posts. So rather than hitting the tweet button you hit the Buffer button instead, type your message and link and let Buffer take care of the rest.
  • Use Hootsuite.
    Hootsuite can help you fill the gaps Buffer may leave. Again it’s a Freemium, application so will cost you nothing if you don’t want it to. Hootsuite will allow you to queue up your content, rather than sending it all out at the same time on a Sunday afternoon or Monday morning. Spend a little time once a week filling your queues on Hootsuite and your content distribution will be handled for you while you get on with running your business.
  • Use IFTTT.
    If there is a blog out there that your hold in high regard, one that you regularly read and quite often share with your social audience, you may want to consider using IFTTT. It’s a very simple piece of software that allows you to automatically tweet and share blog content by monitoring the blogs RSS feed. Takes moments to set up and once it’s there you have a spare slot on your to-do list.
  • Use RoundTeam.
    Similar to using IFTTT for monitoring an RSS feed, RoundTeam will monitor Twitter #hashtags for you and retweet whichever ones you ask it to. Be warned, for popular #hashtags this can get quickly out of hand. But done correctly, and with suitable rules in place, you can add a steady stream of retweets to your Twitter account and get kudos from you audience for doing so.

Being aware of what’s going on…

No one likes to be ignored. So when that potential customer tweets you on Sunday night they’re going to want to know someone is at the other end. They’re not going to wait until Friday afternoon for a reply. So how can you stay on top of things when you’re managing a busy schedule?

  • Email notifications.
    All social channels have notifications settings allowing you to request a real time email when your account gets a new follower, direct message or mention. Used properly and this can provide you with an accurate and up the minute information on your account’s activity, giving you a prompt to log in and respond. Set your email notifications carefully though or you may find yourself inundated with emails quite quickly.
  • Mobile app 'push' notifications.
    If you have a smartphone you can download the app for your social channel and get push notifications direct to your phone. The upshot of this is that you can get alerts on the go and respond to them whenever you have a quiet minute, wherever you happen to be… so long as you have a signal!

With these measures, you can give yourself an active social presence. And more importantly you can do so and still have time to run your business.