Love it or hate it, social media is here to stay. With it’s prolific rise in recent years, it’s a great a tool to build and connect with your community from all over the world. On the other hand it can be a huuuuge time suck with little return for your time, energy and money if you don’t have a good strategy in place. So as a creative small business owner, what are you to do? Should you be on every channel? If not, which ones are best suited for your business? How much time should you be spending on it everyday and what should you post? In today’s post, we’ll explore these topics and more in detail, so you can master your social media, grow your community and your creative business!
Should I be on every channel?
With the established social media giants such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest – it’s hard to decide if you should be on all the channels right? With the newer players such as Snapchat and Periscope quickly gaining traction, it can make the decision overwhelming – especially if you think you need to be on all of them!
Firstly, unless you have a dedicated team devoted to social media, I can tell you as a one man/woman band, you’re not going to have the time and energy to create and share content across all those platforms. You may think you can do it all – create unique content that your audience wants, beautiful graphics that are exact sizes for each platform and effectively share and engage with people on those platforms. I’m telling you: just don’t do it!
Also don’t try to share the same content in the same format across different platforms. Like sharing a square Instagram picture on Pinterest. Your image won’t look good in the Pinterest feed where it favours long, tall pins. Just don’t do this. Please. Also if you’re on all of the platforms, you’ll stretch yourself too thin. You’ll wear yourself down and won’t be effectively building your community with the right people.
So if I’m not on all the platforms, what do I do? How can people find me and my business?
Although you’re not actively on each platform, it’s ideal to reserve your handle/name – the same handle on all your preferred platforms for future use. Visit Namechk to check if your preferred name is available or not on the platforms you want to be on. If the name appears to be unavailable, visit the platform and double check, just to make sure what was showing up on namechk is accurate. So now that you’ve reserved your handle, you may be thinking: what will a fan think if they come across my channel and it’s empty? Won’t this make me look bad?
It’s OK! Really! They probably won’t even come across it! Especially if you’re only active on specific platforms and don’t actively link or advertise those other platforms you’re not on. Use your 1 active link in your profile(s) to divert to your newsletter opt in, blog or other channels where they can view your updates. Diverting to a newsletter opt in is best and makes the most of the traffic you generate, because without an email list, you don’t have a viable business! Don’t believe me? This is what Tony Robbins says too! Don’t believe me and need more convincing? Read my 15 must-do things for your blog to grow your handmade business which of course talks about why you need to grow your email list and how to otherwise you’re leaving money on the table!
If I’m not going to be active on every channel which one should I be on?
Who if your target customer?
- If you sell baby clothes and blankets, your target customer is likely to be a parent – maybe a mother. Where do mums like to hang out online? Is Facebook groups their thing? What about Pinterest?
- What if you sell fashion accessories or clothes designed for young, fashionably savvy women? Where might they be? Maybe they’re busy at work and the gym afterwards, so they’re always on the move. Would they be most likely to use apps such as Instagram and Snapchat because they love the immediacy and visuals on the platform?
Wherever your target market hangs out, go there. Select one channel and be awesome at it. Learn everything you can about this channel such as:
- Paid versus organic reach
- How to create the most effective ads to reach your community e.g. Facebook ads, Pinterest promoted pins etc
- Using analytics tools to help you determine the best time to post/frequency of posts
- What kind of content your target customer likes
- Does your preferred platform use hashtags?
- What are the best hashtags for your niche?
- Reliance on keywords?
- Strategies to build and grow your community on that platform
How much time should I spend on social media each day?
There’s no hard and fast rule, but as a base you should update at least once a day. Updating at least once a day fosters a sense of consistency. This builds up trust and over time fans know what they can expect from you and your brand.
It’s important to be engaging with your existing community and reaching out and interacting with new people. Some people only spend 30 minutes a day, some spend hours. Depending on how aggressive you want to grow your community, is up to you.
What should I post?
- What inspires your target customer?
- What motivates them?
- What do they like?
- What do they don’t like?
- What pain points do they have?
- What do they need a solution to?
For Instagram, I like collecting a bank of images that I plan on posting. I periodically update this bank so I can have a birds eye view to see if my images are “on brand” and cohesive looking as a whole. This way, I’m not scrambling at the last minute everyday to find something to post about.
Building up your social media following can be a hard and long road, so don’t feel discouraged if it feels like everyone else has had a massive growth spurt seemingly overnight. Everyone started at 0 at some point and through some hard work and concrete strategies they’ve grown to their current size. Also there’s no need to try and build up your community alone! There’s plenty of communities of like minded creatives and handmade artists who are trying to do the same and accomplish similar goals. Make some friends and share your successes, setbacks and questions you may have! Some of my favourite Facebook groups that I’m also in and love include:
What kind of programs/software are available to help me manage my social media?
How do I build my community?
Although I’ve reserved my social media handles on all the main channels like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest I’ve chosen to only be active on Pinterest and Instagram for now because that’s where my people hang out and I enjoy using those platforms to connect with people.
How do I use Instagram to grow my community?
Since The Nerd Burgers is an information based business, you may think: what the heck do I share when Instagram is a visual platform!? Do I just share pictures of my computer and desk everyday? Haha. Not at all! What I do share are bite sized actionable tips around a certain topic/theme to help creatives launch and grow their businesses.
I created a square template in Photoshop (1080px x 1080px in size) and reuse this every time to create all my images. All my images follow a very simple look – usually some kind of stock image + some text on a semi transparent rectangular background.
All my tips are in emoji dot points featuring glasses (Nerd) and a burger (well… Burgers) dot point at the end. The burger dot point ends in a question that encourages my Nerd Burger friends to engage and share with the tips I shared for the day.
Amidst my tips, I mix the content up and have a specific posting pattern when I share an inspirational quote and a personal story about something that’s happening to me and my business.
I like to batch schedule my Instagram updates. This involves sitting down in 1 session and planning and scheduling my content for a 1-2 week period. This way, my mind is set on this one task. I’m in the zone and can schedule it all in one go, rather than hustling everyday to think of something informative, clever, witty etc on the fly everyday.
So what does this look like practically?
- I create 10 images (1 image a day, for Monday-Friday) and preload the image and my written content into later.com via my computer. Later.com is really great because not only can you type up all your content through a proper keyboard (instead of tiring your thumbs out on your mobile) but you can see all your preplanned posts in a calendar format.
- They also have a really cool “preview” mode, where you can preview all your posts in the “Instagram” square feed format, so you can see if your photos will be cohesive as a whole #winning.
- I preschedule a set time for when I want to post and when the time comes, a push notification hits my phone to prompt me to post onto Instagram! Having my content prescheduled ahead of time, gives me more time on a day-to-day basis to engage with people.
So what sort of results have I gained from using these simple strategies? Using these strategies has helped me to grow my community by over 335% in the last 3 months and it’s been driving traffic and building up my email list! #winning
How do I use Pinterest to grow my community?
So I’m a huge advocate of focus and not spreading yourself too thin on social media. Which is why I wanted to spend some time focussing solely on Instagram first and developing a system that worked for me, before moving onto a second social media platform – in my case, I’ve chosen Pinterest.
People on Pinterest are in discovery mode. They’re actively searching for new pins where they can learn something, buy items or get inspired. Which makes this platform great for both information and product based businesses. Best of all, Pinterest is the one social media channel that keeps on giving. When you pin something, the pin lives on forever and continues to spread when people repin your image.
But as nice as it is to have a lot of repins, the main goal of Pinterest is to get clicks. Clicks to your blog post, where you share valuable and useful content that’s relevant to your target customer and obtain their email address in return for a digital freebie – also known as an opt in freebie/lead magnet/content upgrade. Not sure what these are? Read my 15 must-do things for your blog to grow your handmade business which of course talks about why you need to grow your email list and how to grow it with digital freebies and more!
So what does this look like practically?
- All my pins are long, tall vertical pins (800px x 1200px). This not only takes up more space in the Pinterest feed, but is the generally accepted format that looks best on this channel – just like Instagram was originally good for squares.
- My pins generally have some text overlay on top of an image that describes what you’ll learn/get when you click through to the blog post. Like X tips to do Y or X reasons to avoid Y to gain Z etc.
- My pins sometimes has an image of the freebie you’ll get and/or some text describing the bonus digital freebie that accompanies the blog post
- My descriptions are filled with keywords that I think people might search for to learn something. Type these into your ‘alt image’ description on your blog to make sure that your description is always consistent when someone pins it from your website.
- The new Pinterest smart feed rewards pinners who pin consistently and who pin high quality content i.e. pins that have a high number of repins, clicks or likes. So it’s important to develop a pinning system so that the smart feed recognises you as a power pinner and show your pins in the smart feed.
- From my research the “optimal” number of pins you should pin everyday varies anything from 50-100 pins. You’re probably freaking out and thinking: Whoaaaa!! That’s a lot! Are you saying I need to spend hours everyday pinning 100 pins?!
- This is when I introduce my favourite new piece of software: BoardBooster!* BoardBooster allows you to pre-pin pins to specific ‘secret boards’. BoardBooster can pin these pins to a specific board, within a time period and on days you specify e.g. between 10am – 11pm everyday. So for example, on Monday you pin 21 pins to your secret board titled ‘Blogging tips.’ You can set up BoardBooster to pin 3 items from this secret board to your public board each day, every day for the week. This means you can do my favourite activity – batch all your pins to your secret boards in one sitting and not worry about it for a week! Woohoo!!
From using this strategy for about 6 weeks, it’s grown my page views from tiny double digits a day on my blog to over 5000 page views a month and contributed hundreds of people to my email list in less than 2 months! So what are you waiting for? If you haven’t already, download my guide showing you the 7 steps to find the best social media platforms for your creative business!
* This is my referral link for BoardBooster. This may mean that I receive a small monetary credit to my account in the case you become a customer of BoardBooster. In no way at all, does this increase the cost of the BoardBooster service to you. I only include affiliate links to products that I personally use and love and would wholeheartedly recommend to you, my Nerd Burger friend.