With people all over the world averaging at least three to four hours each day online, social media marketing is something we just can't get away from. People use their phones and mobile devices for more than half their time online and 90% of that time is spent in apps. They are browsing, cementing friendships, shopping and making many of their buying decisions based on the posts, videos and recommendations of people in their online circles.
The rub: unless you are retired, spending that much time online takes away from the other important responsibilities in your life.
My intention with this series of posts is to help you make decisions about how you spend your time online, and how you find online content that provides the most traction for your brand and your book sales.
What is "your brand?" Simply put, your brand is the image that forms in peoples' minds when they hear your name. You want to shape that perception with content that cements the brand that you want.
Remember, social media marketing is not about dousing your followers with periodic buckets of updates. It is a thousand drops of water, one dribble at a time, that will help your online presence flourish.
Developing a posting schedule that doesn't run you ragged...
Here are my time hacks for fitting a variety of quality social updates into your busy schedule:
1. Schedule time to create your graphics and videos.
Just as you would schedule an hour of writing time, schedule an hour or two of time to create graphics. Doing them all at once, when you are on a roll, allows you to have cohesion with your brand and images. I highly recommend a tool like Canva that allows you to make social media sized graphics, banners, etc.
Laura Drake did a fantastic post on Canva.
You don't have to schedule this time every week, but it will pay off if you do. Perhaps one week of the month will be for creating photo shares, another will be spent recording videos and a third week will be spent browsing for graphics to use as background for quotes (these are always popular).
I wait for those "100 images for $100" deals on Deposit Photos so I can run targeted searches for images and save them to my account for later use. Two things take more time than anything else on social media, at least for me: finding images and engaging in discussion about what you post.
Note: You want to include your logo or website on each graphic. This is so people can find you when they see your graphic, and so someone has to work to pirate your images. Yes, people steal photos all the time, without observing copyright. If it's yours, label it.
2. Use Google Alerts.
Google Alerts is an easy-to-set-up free tool. If there are topics you need to post about - i.e. mermaids or underpants or how to macrame - set up a Google Alert for each topic and you will receive an email whenever it's mentioned in the news, anywhere in the world. Easy-peasy.
You can save even more time by keeping a list of these tweetable/bloggable links, either through an ongoing email, a Word or Scrivener document, OneDrive or Evernote, or even a draft post on your WordPress dashboard.
Time-saving Tip: You need to have an easily-accessible, ready supply of social shares that fit your brand. This lowers your "content" stress level by a mile, decreases the amount of time you spend online each day, and helps your branding stay consistent. Many people keep a social media calendar for this reason.
3. Let IFTTT to bring the content to you (and even post it).
IFTTT has saved me loads of time. It stands for "if this, then that" and it's a free tool to help all your apps and devices talk to each other. Below is a sample of some of the applets I use IFTTT for.
- Don't want to go looking for GIFs? IFTTT has an applet that will email you a list of the trending GIFs for the day from Giphy. You can then share them any way you see fit.
- No time to do Instagram and Pinterest? I love them both but Instagram is mobile only, which means I'm more likely to have my day-to-day "life photos" come from there. There are applets you can set up to post to various Pinterest boards based on your Instagram hashtag. Here is my Urban Gardening Board, which is more than half populated by my Instagram feed.
- Want to shake up your Twitter feed with some of those same "life photos?" There is an applet to copy Instagram posts to Twitter as "native photos" rather than as a link. You get two-for-one and the ability to spend your social media time connecting over the photos rather than posting them.
I highly recommend spending one of your online hours setting up a few IFTTT applets. You can always delete the ones that don't work for you, or populate one Pinterest board at a time. This is for you to decide.
Note: Do not set up applets for apps you have no intention of monitoring. The goal is to spend less time posting so you can spend more time being social. There's nothing you can do to piss off people more on social media than NOT being social.
4. Scheduling isn't always bad.
Tools like Hootsuite and SocialOomph and Sendible remain popular for a reason. You can't be online all the time, and we all have busy lives. We have readers in Europe who are 7-10 hours ahead of us and we want some of our updates to show up when they are awake.
Note: Doing 100% of your social media updates via a scheduling tool when you are never online is spammy behavior. We don't want to be called spammers...that's bad juju.
BUT scheduling some of your important updates, and being around to monitor the results, is just practical.
Jeff Bullas did a great post on the Top 5 Social Dashboards.
What kinds of posts go viral...
There are many many schools of thought on what gets others to share your content, but I decided to go with science because we want results that can be duplicated. Scientific American published a fascinating article that concluded the following:
"..content that elicits an emotional reaction tends to be more widely shared. In addition, stories stimulating positive emotions are more widely shared than those eliciting negative feelings, and content that produces greater emotional arousal (making your heart race) is more likely to go viral. This means that content that makes readers or viewers feel a positive emotion like awe or wonder is more likely to take off online than content that makes people feel sad or angry, though causing some emotion is far better than inspiring none at all."
Here's a good social media rule set from Sendible to help keep your brand image out of trouble.
Finally, in the new world of Instagram where you are allowed only a single URL in your bio, a tool like LinkTree has become invaluable. Make LinkTree your single bio link so people can find your other important links - your book page, your blog, or whatever other page drives your fancy this month. Here is my LinkTree, just to give you a sample: https://linktr.ee/jenny_hansen_ca.
More than anything, you want your time online to be fun and productive. If your time online is both those things, you're less likely to resent the time you spend there. Hopefully some of the ideas above will help you have a dependable social media presence that helps your brand and doesn't drive you insane. In January, I'll give you some more targeted ideas for content.
Now it's your turn! What are your tips and shortcuts for building your online brand? Do you keep a social media calendar? Do you set a timer? What do you do to maintain your work/life balance?
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By day, Jenny provides training and social media marketing for an accounting firm. By night she writes humor, memoir, women’s fiction and short stories. After 18+ years as a corporate software trainer, she’s delighted to sit down while she works.