Did you meet your social media marketing goals for 2016? Or do you feel like you spent a lot of time on social media channels but just didn't make any headway?
For many small business owners and solopreneurs, social media activities are just one more item on an already overflowing to do list—if they make it onto the list at all. Social media engagement then becomes ad hoc and reactive, which rarely leads to driving business results.
Social media has the potential to be a significant business growth lever, but only if you make it a priority, and commit to using it consistently to build relationships with your existing customer base, and your ideal future customers. It's not enough to create an account on every new social media channel and wait for someone to engage you in conversation. To unlock social media's potential, you have to set goals for what you want to accomplish and align tactics to those goals and track as you make progress against them over time.
What is your reason for creating and maintaining your social media channels? Are those channels meant to drive direct sales, increase traffic to your website, build relationships, provide customer support, or all of the above? Once you determine the why behind each channel, you can set appropriate goals to track your progress towards that goal. For instance, if your goal is to increase traffic to your website, a measurement to track progress against that goal would be the number of clickthroughs on the URLs you are sharing or the amount of referring traffic from social media as recorded by your website analytics.
Defining Your Ideal Weekly Social Media Schedule
Before you jump in and start making your plans for 2017, take some time today to reflect on what you accomplished (and what you didn't accomplish) with your social media activities last year, as it relates to your social media goals.
For the channels where you were on track with moving toward your goals, write down what worked well, and how frequently you deployed those tactics. For the channels where you were off the mark, what could you try doing differently? How could you change up the frequency of your activities? Take those lists, and make a chart on how you can chip away at those activities, one day at a time.
In this example, the solopreneur planned to spend an hour per day on social media maximum, working his way through the daily activities, and holding himself accountable by tallying up his completed actions on a daily and weekly basis.
Pew Internet Research to Help You Determine Your Ideal Social Media Content Scheduling
In our example, more times was being spent cultivating followers and engaging with influencers than posting content, because that was aligned with his goals at the time. But how do you know how often you should be posting to your social media channels? Although the answer depends on your specific audience, there are some general guidelines you can devise based on recent Pew Internet research on social media channel usage.
- Facebook. With 76 percent of users visiting the site or using the app daily, you'll want to be present on Facebook daily if possible. Plus, since visual content memes move fast on Facebook, if you're checking in with your page and your followers less frequently, you may miss out on what could have been a great engagement opportunity. If you're sharing a viral video two weeks after it hit its peak, you're just not going to see a high level of engagement.
- Instagram. Although half the regular users visit daily, a fourth visit only weekly, with another fourth less often than that. This means you'll want to focus on high-quality content that is relevant for a longer amount of time, and can get away with posting once or twice per week. Are there relevant weekly/recurring hashtags you can commit to posting content around? A regular #FlashbackFriday or #MotivationMonday post can become something your followers look forward to engaging with week-after-week.
- Twitter. Although only 42 percent of regular twitter users surveyed visited twitter daily, the fast-moving new stream format of twitter means it's more important to understand when your customers are likely to be on, and to post content more frequently in an effort to reach them while they are active. And those less often than weekly users are frequently those who turn to twitter to discuss large-scale cultural events (like the World Series, the Oscars, etc.) and for news content. Don't be afraid to have a flurry of tweets associated with a relevant news topic—a frequency that could annoy your followers on another social channel can work well on twitter.
- Pinterest. A fourth of Pinterest users said they used the site daily, with the largest group, at 43 percent, visiting the site less than once per week. Many Pinterest users chunk their time on the site, populating a board on a specific topic when it's relevant. For instance, spending time building a wedding-related board, curating holiday recipes and gift ideas, etc. As long as you aren't flooding the site with repeats of your pins, you can also batch your time on the site without fear of overwhelming your followers. However, if Pinterest is a significant direct sales driver for your organization, consider using an app like Tailwind to target the timing of your posts to when your best customers are most likely to be online.
- LinkedIn. If your ideal buyer is in HR or sales, chances are they always have LinkedIn open on their computer or mobile device. But 82 percent of users visit the site weekly or less often. This means for more organizations, daily Linkedin posts are nice to have, but posting a few times per week is adequate. You won't want to repeat content links on this channel without switching out your images and writing new copy, otherwise, your infrequent user followers may unfollow you, feeling as though you are pushing your content and your company too hard.
Don't let social media be something you put on your "to do eventually" list for 2017. Take a few minutes now, and block time on your calendar every day to ensure you make the most of what social media has to offer for building the relationships that can grow your business.