A while back I was on a webinar with my mentor and the other ladies in our group. The topic for that months meeting was tackling procrastination. When asked to share one business task we procrastinate over the most, almost all of us said our social media accounts.
I know what I’m supposed to be doing with my social media accounts but I don’t always block out time in my diary to work on my scheduling. I also seem to always have my best content ideas whenever I’m tied up with the kids or in the shower and can’t write them down straight away.
Quite a few of the other women in the group said that they either didn’t fully understand certain platforms, or that they found creating and sourcing content difficult.
Why is social media something that stops us in our tracks so often? Even those of us that know what we are doing!
Here are the most common social media pitfalls and tips for overcoming them.
#1: Posting for the sake of posting (and having no strategy)
We’ve all done it.
All the content you had scheduled has now already been posted to your accounts as planned and your scheduling queue is empty. You know you need to post something else but your brain says “Nope, sorry, I got nothing”. You cobble together anything you can find. Some vaguely interesting articles to share, a few over-used inspirational quotes and a sales post about your services.
None of your followers care. You barely get any ‘likes’ or comments so you enter social media despair and procrastination sets in. Before you know it, weeks or months have passed and your accounts are sat there sad, lonely and empty. They certainly aren’t bringing you clients or helping boost your credibility.
The problem isn’t that you lack creativity. Or that you are bad at this whole social media thing. Half the problem is that you don’t have a solid strategy in place. You need to have planned a month or two in advance exactly what you want to achieve with the content you post. Consider the following:
What are your business objectives for the particular month? Do you want more work, do you want more newsletter sign ups, do you want to raise awareness of a new product launch? This forms the framework of your social media strategy.
Who is your ideal client? If you are still unsure or vague on this, work on it until you are clear and certain.
What kind of content would be useful or entertaining to this ideal client?
80% posts providing value and 20% sales posts is a good rule when starting to piece your plan together.
With all of this in mind, you can now start to craft your posting schedule for a particular month. You know why you are posting, who you are posting for, what content will attract them and you’ve made sure you’ve pitched your services without overdoing the self-promotion.
The other half of the problem brings me to our next pitfall…
#2: Trying to succeed on too many platforms at once
If you are constantly trying to keep up with posting on Facebook AND Twitter AND Instagram AND Pinterest AND LinkedIn, you are going to wear yourself out pretty quickly. Don’t do it to yourself!
Your ideal client is very unlikely to be frequenting all of these major platforms. Find out where they hang out and focus your effort there first. 2 or 3 platforms is more than sufficient.
If you can only handle one account then only have that single account and absolutely kill it on that platform! Learn everything you can about that platform and dominate your niche.
Make sure you, again, know who your ideal client is and pick a platform that fits their demographic.
But you also have to know how to use it. Which brings us to #3…
#3: Not understanding the platform you are using
If your ideal clients congregate mainly on one particular platform but you don’t know how to use it, you now have 1 of 3 choices:
- Learn how to use it. Take a course, read a book, get somebody to teach you so you are confident and not wasting your valuable time.
- Outsource the task to somebody who does know what they are doing. They can help you create content, schedule it, engage and interact with your audience and keep up with the latest changes on that platform.
- Pick the next best platform for your ideal client that you are already confident using.
#4: Sourcing and creating content
The easiest way to tackle the sourcing problem is to first do a bit of upfront work.
- Set up a system that delivers relevant content straight to you. For example, you can set up Google Alerts for a certain phrase or keyword. I’d suggest doing this for your own business and industry, as well as for your ideal clients industries. It sends emails to you when it finds new results, such as web pages, blogs or scientific research, that match your search term. You suddenly have audience specific content dropping into your inbox whenever something new is going down. You could share it or it could inspire an original piece of content you create yourself.
- Set up a news aggregator that compiles news feeds from a variety of sources. A lot of people use Feedly for this. It’s easy to create an account and find some great blog posts to share. If you have a favourite website that always puts out useful and relevant blog posts, then you can have Feedly pull the content straight through to your news feed within your account. (I use a MeetEdgar paid account for scheduling my social media posts and this has the same function built in. All I do is click approve or discard on each blog post. So easy!).
- Check your computer storage, phone storage and saved Facebook posts for any content you might have already saved from the web that you could use. I’m always taking screenshots on my phone when I come across something I want to use or inspire me later. Make sure you aren’t already sitting on a pile of great content that’s going to waste in your hard drive. (Google Chrome also has an extension for saving web pages to read or refer to later. I don’t use other browsers but I imagine most have a similar extension you can use to do the same).
So next we move onto creating.
You obviously need to create content that your ideal clients like to see and follow as we discussed back at #1. There’s also another piece to the puzzle and that’s authenticity. (An overused word, I know, but stay with me).
Just because you see other business owners writing long, heartfelt posts about their life and work and getting a massive amount of engagement, doesn’t mean you have to do the same to be successful online.
Readers can sense if you are being inauthentic or trying to shape yourself into something you aren’t to fit in.
Be yourself! Write the way you talk, let people know your values and qualities and never try to hide your insecurities behind a mask of perfection. Be real and be unique. While you may be wishing you could be more like somebody else, a client is wishing they could find someone just like you! They’ll never find you if your feed is an inaccurate representation of you.
When it comes to actually creating posts themselves there are a few things to consider.
- What type of content works best on your chosen platform?
- What does your audience respond to the most?
- Where do your talents lie?
You want to have a bit of a mix of media types on the platforms that allow it (text/graphics/videos) but always cater to your audience and play to your strengths. It will take a little bit of trial and error to get this right.
I can’t end here without mentioning Canva for creating social media graphics (amongst a load of other things you can create for free).
#5: Failing to consistently set aside time to be creative
Don’t kid yourself into thinking that you’ll wake up tomorrow full of energy and creativity and write a month’s worth of content effortlessly.
The chances are that you’ll never feel like spending a full day creating. You’ll get busy wrapped up in other things. Housework, kids, client work, your best mate’s latest drama…
You need to schedule in time to be creative. Otherwise it will just never happen!
Take out your diary/open up your calendar now and set up a recurring time slot every week/month for you to create awesome posts for your social media audience.
It’s like working out. You’ll never feel like doing it. You just have to discipline yourself, get it done, then feel amazing when you feel the benefits and reap the rewards afterwards.
#6: Getting distracted by pointless crap
Ah yes! The internet rabbit hole we all find ourselves down more often than we’ll ever admit.
As much fun as it is to watch a cat ride round on a robotic vacuum whilst wearing a shark costume, you can do that in your personal time.
Close down every other window on your laptop, put your phone in flight mode (or even better, out of the room), set a timer and get to work. When it’s business hours, you’re online to engage, network and build relationships. Eliminate as many distractions as possible, set yourself a target (e.g. engage with 10 ideal clients in their Instagram comments sections) and set yourself a timer for a challenging but achievable time-frame. Knowing your objective and that the clock is ticking will help keep your brain focused and less likely to wander.
#7: Obsessing over ‘vanity’ metrics
Yes, we ultimately want to see your follower count growing.
Yes, it does seem as though the bigger your following, the more reach you have due to the algorithms on most platforms. (To be honest, who knows what the fuck the algorithms prefer!? It’ll change tomorrow anyway)
But what you really want, especially small businesses, is high engagement from ideal clients that will build their trust in your brand and nurture them towards making a purchase/signing up as a client.
Your social media efforts need to be eventually leading to sales otherwise you’re wasting your time. Your clients are the lifeblood of your business and you want them discovering your posts and thinking ‘Yes! This solves my problem. Sign me up Sensei!’
Yes, your business is your passion and you aren’t a slimy sales machine. But you can only continue this passion and help people if you are getting paid.
So, of course keep track of your follower numbers. But please don’t obsess over them. Keep your focus on seeking out ideal clients, engaging with them, providing value, build a relationship and then give them opportunities to get on your subscriber list and/or buy from you.
Numbers are just that, numbers!
Remember the ‘influencer’ who had over 2 million followers but failed to sell 36 t-shirts?
Nurture the audience that need the help you can give them. Loyalty is gold!
I hope this post gave you a few new tips and ideas to work with going forward.
If you haven’t already, hop on over to Instagram @aura_assist and say hi or ask me any questions.