A strategic, high quality social media presence can significantly increase your online following and quickly grow your brand. Whether you’re a maker with an Etsy store, an entrepreneur launching a business, or a professional on the hunt for a new job, most people will first come into contact with you online. Potential customers, investors, and employers won’t do business with you without first plugging your name into Google, and it’s crucial that what they find is on brand and on message.
Creating quality content, maintaining the recommended posting frequency, and engaging with your audience can easily suck up in the better part of a day. It can take hours to figure out what to post, find an image, schedule, and respond to comments. You can end up always checking your phone, trying to squeeze in a few RTs in the elevator or while brushing your teeth, but before you know it, you’ve fallen down the social media rabbit hole.
It doesn’t have to be that way.
We manage over a dozen social media accounts for our clients, not including our company’s pages and my personal ones. It seems like a lot, but it takes less than an hour per week per client to create content for each of their platforms. Here’s how:
Step #1: Set-Up a Scheduling System
If you’re not scheduling social media posts ahead of time, you’re either wasting a lot of time during the week or not posting as frequently as you should. I spend an hour per week scheduling clients’ posts for the next 7 days, and other than the occasional check-in to make sure they didn’t receive any trolling comments, I forget about it. Scheduling all your posts at once will save you hours of time during the week.
The first tool I use is Schedugr.am, which allows you to schedule Instagram posts ahead of time, as well as add hashtags to the first comment. Not only do I loveSchedugr.am for scheduling, it’s also SO much easier to type hashtags in on a computer than by phone. I can also easily copy and paste the hashtags I’m tracking into the first comment of my scheduled posts. It’s $20/mo per account, which may seem steep, but if you’re actively working on building your Instagram following, then it’s worth the investment. If you use this link* to register, you’ll receive $5 off your first invoice.
The next tool we use is HootSuite* This platform allows you to manage Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn all in one place (you can also manage Instagram, but in order to actually post, the content needs to be approved on your phone in real time, and that’s a hassle.) You can schedule all your posts ahead of time, including link previews and any images you’re using. You can respond to messages, @ reply, and RT directly from the platform, which prevents you from being sucked into the social media void. We also use it to track hashtags and other social media chatter related to our clients, and there’s a chrome extension that allows you to share a webpage and schedule it in your queue without having to visit hootsuite.com. HootSuite is free for 3 accounts or less, so most of you will be able to get away with just using the free version, but if you’re managing more or want more advanced analytics, you may have to go pro (starts at $19/mo).
With Schedugr.am and Hootsuite, you’re pretty much set, but we take it a step further. Since Facebook gives preference to photos that originate from Instagram, we want to ensure that any photos we post to Instagram also cross-post to Facebook. That’s why we use Zapier, an automation tool that triggers any Instagram post to be cross-posted to Facebook. Zapier supports hundreds of integrations, from automatically adding certain contacts to your email list service to sending you news about certain topics, but we primarily use it for cross-posting. The tool is free if you’re using 5 “zaps” or less (which is plenty for us), but if you need more, there are pro plans available.
If you’re utilizing Pinterest in your social media strategy, then I recommend BoardBooster*. You can schedule pins ahead of time, which will post at your chosen frequency, and the program will also find suggested pins based on your keyword parameters, making it easier to find good content to pin. There’s also a looping tool, which takes your old pins and re-pins them to the top of your board. New followers may not have seen your old content, so looping selected content helps get those pins in front of fresh eyes. At just a penny a pin, it’s well worth the time you save.
Step #2: Curate Content
Most of our clients say that the most time-consuming part of social media is creating or finding content to post. But we’ve set up a number of systems that streamline our content creation and save tons of time.
The first is Feedly, which compiles content from blogs and websites you follow into one place. So rather than visiting the individual blogs and websites to look for content, you can visit one site and quickly scroll through headlines and see if there’s anything you want to share with your audience. You can pull 5 interesting links and have them scheduled to post in a matter of minutes.
Most social media content performs better when it’s accompanied by an image, but digging through stock photography sites can be time consuming. Free sites like Pixabay and Pexels have a lot of great images, but since everyone uses those sites, you’ll see the same images used again and again. When we want something more unique or interesting, we move towards Depositphotos*. Their cost is lower than most stock photography services and their images aren’t as highly utilized as those from the other programs.
We also use Canva to make inspirational graphics or quote graphics, and while these tend to perform better over straight stock photos, they tend to be more time consuming. Rather than searching for the perfect font or playing with photo filters, I recommend establishing a template for your platform and reusing that with each post. If you have standard color schemes, fonts, and logos to work with, then it takes out the guesswork and streamlines the process. There’s plenty you can do with a free account, but the pro version lets you re-size graphics for the different platforms rather than starting from scratch. If your priority is saving time, then I recommend going pro.
Step #3: Unplug
When it comes to social media, YOU are the biggest time suck. When your phone alerts you to a Facebook or Twitter notification, you can be tempted to reach for it immediately, like Pavlov’s dog. You may mindlessly scroll through your LinkedIn feed while on conference calls or “just check” your Instagram stats in between projects. Before you know it, you’ve been sucked into social media quicksand and have wasted hours of your time. In order to prevent this, it’s necessary to unplug.
First, disable all social media notifications from your phone. I thought that as a social media manager, I wasn’t able to do this, but I did, and it was amazing. Don’t delete the actual apps from your phone–you’ll want those to capture spontaneous moments as you move throughout your week–but turn off any visual or audible notifications. That way, you’re not checking social media when your phone tells you to; you’re doing it on your terms.
Next, schedule a time of day to monitor social media. Write it down or add it to your calendar. Set a time limit. Thirty minutes a day is MORE than enough to answer Facebook messages, RT a few things, and respond to LinkedIn messages. You may feel like scheduling this monitoring in between meeting and projects is more effective, but it’s not. At the end of the day, you actually end up spending more time. It’s like just taking a few chips out of the bag, then going back for more 15 minutes later. You’ll sooner eat the whole bag this way than if you had taken out a bowl and poured yourself the exact portion you wanted to eat.
Yes, social media is an integral part of the branding process, and it’s something you should do well or not at all. But having a strong social media presence doesn’t mean you have to spend hours a day working on it. For those of you wanting to take a deeper dive into this process, I recommend Melyssa Griffin’s Social Media Superhero course*. She addresses one social media platform per module and shows you how to utilize it.
Have your own social media hacks you want to share? Feel free to leave those in the comments!
*Denotes affiliate links. I receive a small commission when you purchase products through these links and I only link to products or services that I’ve used and can honestly recommend. Reputation is everything, and I have no plans to risk mine for a few bucks.