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Creating, updating and monitoring a professional online presence has become a full-time job. And not just for social media professionals, like myself, but for anyone who engages with the business community.
Unfortunately, most of us have less and less time to devote to our online social channels. Business owners, executives, marketers and just about everyone with a computer feels overwhelmed by this fast moving digital conversation.
Where do I need to post?
How do I respond to mentions on Twitter?
What ARE mentions on Twitter?
The global communication dynamic has forever changed. But, who wants to spend countless hours updating dozens of social networks, responding to comments and pondering what to publish next?
So I have set out to create a smart, simple and focused strategy to ensure I’m maximizing my time while still being a business communications superstar.
The Strategies vs. The Tools
Below I’ve outlined several strategies to help streamline your professional social media communications.
I think these are an essential starting point for anyone looking to create a smart social media plan.
Once you’ve spent a fair amount of time exploring your goals, audience and the amount of time you’re willing to commit THEN we can discuss tools and tactics.
Strategy #1: The Year of Living Selectively
I have to give a shout-out to my friend, Julie Diamond, who wrote the blog post that inspired this first strategy tip. Her post very eloquently discusses the importance of being highly selective when making choices about the work you do, projects you take on and how you allocate time and energy.
I feel the same can be said for your social media communications strategy.
Why spend hours a day updating Facebook when you’re colleagues are on LinkedIn?
But before you start making those choices you’ll need to do a bit of research and answer the following questions:
What are you trying to achieve with your social media updates and why?
This is when you start to define your goals and your audience.
Simply stating ‘I want to keep my business contacts updated on my latest projects’ isn’t enough. I would then ask, ‘why? what will that get you?’
Here’s an example of how I approached this question with two of my goals.
1) I want to help educate the business community by sharing articles that help solve their online marketing challenges SO that I will continue to build my credibility as a trusted online marketing resource and attract new consulting clients.
2) I want to gain access to and build relationships with industry leaders SO that I can expand my knowledge base and share that knowledge with my clients.
Where is your audience?
Now that you have a clear understanding of what you’re trying to achieve, you can begin to research the best platforms to find and engage the right audience to meet those objectives.
Using my example above, I have identified two distinct groups that I would like to see and interact with my updates:
1) Those in the business community who are experiencing challenges surrounding digital marketing and are seeking consulting solutions.
2) Digital marketing gurus and rock stars who have some knowledge to lay on me.
In order to reach the first group, I may try and find out WHERE conversations are taking place regarding online consulting services. Hubspot published a VERY helpful report that dissected WHERE conversations are happening by industry.
The insight I gained from this report is that conversations about ‘consulting’ are largely happening on LinkedIn. This is likely where I should commit most of my time and resources to achieve my first goal.
One other action to consider is surveying your current customer or client base. If your goal includes targeting current customers in some way, the BEST Way to discover WHERE they are is to ask them.
Strategy #2: Content
Now that I’ve identified my two target audiences and discovered where they converse in this digital conversation, I’m ready to take a look at content.
I want to make sure that my updates are somehow helping me to achieve my goals and providing value to those I’m looking to build relationships with.
This is where it can can become difficult to tease out professional updates from personal ones.
Professional vs. Personal
Nowhere in my goals do I list keeping PERSONAL contacts updated on my activities BUT I feel that sharing SOME personal updates with the business community can help them get to know me a bit better.
It’s a delicate balance with no wrong or right answer in my opinion. If you’re REALLY Stuck on this issue, survey your audience and ask them if they feel you over-share your personal information.
If they scream, ‘TMI!’, then be sure to increase the business related content. Here are a few other pointers on content:
- Make sure the subject of your content is helping you achieve your goals and objectives.
- Use rich media whenever possible – photos, videos, graphics all are great at grabbing someones attention.
- Look at content in a new way – Start to think about making the most of your content by formatting it to be shared across multiple platforms. For example, this article could easily be converted into a presentation and uploaded to slideshare.com. I could also convert this into a PDF using a tool like PrintFriendly.com and post on my website, blog or even scrbd.
- Be consistent – Try to come up with a plan to update your chosen networks regularly and STICK WITH IT! I went into hibernation mode after the holidays and put my updates on the back burner. My Klout score dropped by 10 points! Part of your plan needs to be creating a system of updating that you can maintain.
Strategy #3: Think Smarter NOT Harder
OK, here’s the FUN part! This is where I can hopefully turn you on to some new tools that will help make your professional social media updates as EFFICIENT as humanly possible. As I stated at the outset, none of us have hours a day to manage an online presence. I’ve got MAYBE an hour. So how can I meet my objectives, regularly create and post great content on multiple platforms and artfully hold a digital conversation in just an hour per day? I’m not sure that I can but here are some tips and tools that might help.
One factor to consider is HOW you’ll be making updates. I’m often away from my desk when I’m scanning the vast amount of industry articles that hit my inbox.
I needed to find a solution that would allow me to update my chosen networks from my smartphone. I would advise creating an update strategy for BOTH your desktop or laptop and your mobile device.
You’ll likely find that the process you’ve hammered out for your desktop won’t easily transfer to mobile and vice versa.
1. LinkedIn Twitter Integration –
LinkedIn offers up some great features to help you post directly from LinkedIn to Twitter and from Twitter to LinkedIn including a LinkedIn only hashtag, ‘#in’.
Read more about activating these features in the LinkedIn Twitter learning center. And while you’re optimizing LinkedIn be sure to add your blog RSS to your LinkedIn profile, yet another way to automate content distribution.
2. Instagram –
YES, Instagram IS a time saver! Seamlessly upload photos to Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, Foursquare, Tumbler and Posterous all with one click. PLUS you get a great set of funky photo filters to spice up your media.
3. Flipboard and Flipboard for iPhone –
Flipboard allows you to easily FIND, SHARE and AGGREGATE all your favorite content.
You can source content from virtually ANY source and have it presented in a slick, magazine style app for your phone or iPad. I use this app to post content from my phone to Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
4. Facebook’s Twitter integration features –
You can easily set-up Facebook to share all your Facebook business page posts on Twitter and vice versa.
This may not be appropriate for all business pages but it can take out that extra step ensuring Facebook content is shared on Twitter. It can also help save time when using a Facebook post scheduling tool like AgoraPulse or Hootsuite as once you schedule the Facebook post, the Twitter update will publish automatically at the same time. Sweet!
5. Hootsuite Dashboard or Listening Station –
I’m not a big fan of Hootsuite since they upgraded their pricing structure. However, it’s a good tool to set-up a professional listening station for all of your professional profiles for a very low cost. You can set-up a tab that pulls data from Facebook, WordPress, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn or ANY RSS feed and have it all display in one place. Hootsuite also provides posting features that will allow you to respond to these data streams directly. That’s a BIG time-saver!
6. Extended Share for Google+ –
Google Chrome extension that will allow you to quickly share ANY Google+ post on a variety of different networks including Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Tumblr. The extension adds a ‘share on’ link below every post. One downside of this tool is that it links to the Google+ update and not the original source of the link.
7. G++ for Chrome and Firefox –
Adds both Facebook and Twitter streams inside your Google+ stream with full functionality. You can see incoming news items, Like, and tweet or reply to comments from inside Google+.
8. SGPlus –
This is my FAVE Google+ extender tool as it allows you to post links on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter all from Google+. The posts look great and link directly to your content NOT the post on Google+. In order to get the LinkedIn feature you’ll need to upgrade to the pro version for only $8 bucks per month.
Help A Girl Out?
I’m sure this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to time saving tools.I could spend days researching and still not cover them all.
Please comment below with your favorite tools to help maximize social media management time. I’m still working on my business communication plan for 2012 and need all the help I can get maximizing my hour per day!