I’m not sure how I first stumbled upon Mention but I’ve loved it since I started using it. This tool can help you monitor online conversations mentioning you, your competitors or your customers. I use it to make sure I know who is sharing my blog posts and talking about me. It makes it easy for me to thank people and begin to build relationships with people who are interested in what I write.
Mention will prompt you to set up your first alert. I recommend that you make this your business name.
Give your alert a name and type in the keyword or key phrase that you want to track.
Click the ‘+’ if you want to add more than one keyword. For example I want to track We Teach Social but I also need to include ‘weteachsocial’ in order to pick up mentions of our website.
Click on ‘advanced settings’ and you can delve further asking for results that include more than one word in the same mention.
For example, if I look for mentions of We Teach Social here I will get results that mention all three words but not necessarily as a phrase:
“Do you teach social media? We need you”
This will appear in results even though it has no relation to our business.
You can also exclude search terms so I can eliminate tweets that say:
“Did you know that we teach social skills here?”
This would have no relation to our business. I am excluding results that include ‘we teach social media’ or ‘we teach social skills’
You may want to extend the list of eliminated words or phrases as you get used to using Mention.
You are also able to choose the languages you want to monitor from this interface.
Click ‘Next step’ at the bottom of the page to move on.
Now you can choose the sources you want to see results from and eliminate your own websites.
Click ‘Create my alert’
Now choose the social networks you want to add to the search. This allows you to reply to alerts directly from Mention. As you can see I’ve added the We Teach Social Facebook and Twitter accounts.
Now your alert is set up and the mentions will start rolling in. Click on your search term name on the left hand menu to see them.
If you see mentions coming in from irrelevant sources you can tell Mention not to show you stuff from there again. For example I don’t need to see my own Twitter mentions of We Teach Social. I can eliminate the Spiderworking Twitter account by clicking on the tweet and hitting the no entry symbol at the top of the screen.
You can reply to tweets and posts directly from Mention.
Click on the mention you want to respond to. This will open it up on the right hand side of the screen allowing you to respond. If it is a Tweet Mention will automatically let your reply from your connected Twitter account, the same goes for Facebook.
Mention also flags people that mention you that it considers influential. You can filter results to just display these people by clicking ‘priority’ in the left hand sidebar.
As with all tools that claim to measure influence I’d take this with a pinch of salt. It can be a good starting point handy way to discover new people and investigate them further to see if they are truly influential.
I’ve shown you how to set up a search for your own name but it’s a good idea to set up searches that mention competitors or key customers too.
I am a big fan of this tool, I am now using their premium service as I find it useful. It’s a very cost effective way to monitor a small business.
Have you used Mention? What other tools do you use to monitor your brand? Let me know in the comments below.
Linkedin is a powerful B2B (business to business) network but how can you use it to meet new relevant people?
This weeks videocast shows you how to find leads on Linkedin. To be really effective you need to do more than connect with the people you find. If they accept your information you need to push the relationship further. Make sure you are interacting with the content they share and get involved in relevant conversation threads.
If you really want to warm up the relationship you can message them and ask them to meet some time for coffee and a chat to see how you might be able to help each other out.
Do you have a Linkedin strategy? How do you engage with those who you connect with. I’d love to hear your thoughts.
One of the things I love most about social media marketing is that it has made businesses and brands personal again. Big faceless businesses seem more personal now that I can talk to individuals on Twitter or Facebook.
For small businesses social media gives us the opportunity to have personal, one to one relationships with our customers even if we never meet them.
If you have a bricks and mortar business it’s even more important. If your customers are familiar with you online they will feel more comfortable talking to you in store.
Whether you are a one person telling people about you and your story or an employer you should consider featuring more human beings in your online marketing.
Showing the humans behind your business will:
Make you appear more trustworthy – You aren’t a faceless business anymore. People will feel more comfortable knowing that they are dealing with human being.
Showcase your expertise – People will begin to know who in your organisation does what and who has expertise in which areas. Your staff can share snippets of this via tips and advice.
Personal connection – We used to have connections with the people we did business with. These connections almost disappeared as we started to do business further afield. Social media gives us the opportunity to connect with our customers again even if they are further afield.
Here are six examples of businesses featuring the people behind their brand as part of their online marketing:
Using Your Website – Red Oak Tax Refunds
Click on the Red Oak Tax Refunds ‘About’ tab and you will see a wall of smiling faces. Click on the tile next to any of those photos and you can learn a little bit more about the staff. You’ll find out what they do in the business as well as a bit of personal information. This allows customers to discover who they are talking to on the phone or emailing.
Using Your Twitter Profile – Eventbrite Ireland
Eventbrite are a large organisation yet when I visit their Twitter account I discover the person behind it. Within the bio I am directed to @ann_lowney the face behind the corporate logo. It’s good to know there is a real person behind the tweets.
If you are a smaller business including a bit of personal info in your bio can make you more approachable and spark ice breaking conversations. I recently included my three loves; cats, cake and Dr. Who in my bio and I’ve managed to get into conversations as a result of it.
Handing over the keys – San Diego Zoo on Pinterest
San Diego Zoo have handed over a Pinterest board to one of their Zoo Keepers. Amongst the boards full of cute animals, wild style and items on sale on the gift shop you will find ‘Zoo Keeper Rick’s board’. This shared board allows Rick to share his expertise adding snippets of info about the animals he photographs.
And then there’s this picture:
Using Facebook – Bunsen
Smiling faces in our newsfeed can catch our eye. Since they opened in mid 2013 Bunsen have been posting pictures of their team on Facebook. The un-posed nature of this photo gives us a taste of a friendly and fun restaurant.
Using YouTube – Kew Gardens
Video has the advantage of letting you see people when they aren’t perfectly posed. It can capture a personality in a way that would be impossible using images or text alone. In this example from Kew Gardens you meet the horticulturists as they taste the Trinidadian Scorpion Butch T pepper, one of the hottest peppers in the world. As they eat their personalities are revealed as is the humour and the team dynamic.
Stories – airbnb
For those of you who haven’t encountered airbnb yet it’s an alternative to using a hotel or a traditional BnB. Users can sign up to rent out a room in their home or an entire premises for a short period of time.
Unlike my other examples the ‘stories’ section of the airbnb website doesn’t tell us about the staff. It tells the stories of the people who share their homes. Each segment features a home owner. It tells us about their lifestyle, how they discovered airbnb and how it has changed their lives.
The videos are sometimes fun, sometimes moving but more than anything else they make us remember the people. This makes total sense. I don’t really care who is behind the airbnb software and marketing but I do want to know more about the people whose homes I may be borrowing.
I don’t like the term ‘humanising’. By revealing the people behind your brand you are just encouraging human interactions. The brand will never be human but the people behind it are. Telling the stories of you, your staff and customers can be a short cut to telling people what your ethos is.
Do you profile the people behind your business? Do you tell people about you and what makes you tick? Let me know in the comments box.
Nostalgia makes us fell warm and happy. Even nostalgic stories set in times before our living memory can evoke these feelings. Tapping in to this emotion can help people feel warm and fuzzy about our brand too. Here’s four examples of businesses using nostalgia to tell their stories and some tips on how small businesses can replicate their ideas.
Volkswagen have taken the history of their most iconic car and turned it into a documentary. The film available to watch on an interactive website and on YouTube tells the tale of a 1955 Volkswagen Beetle that travelled the world three times. It’s still on the road now.
The documentary isn’t a direct advert, it’s a moving film telling the stories of both the car and the people who drove it. It reminds us how a car can become the central part of our lives and makes us feel empathy with the brand.
How can small businesses recreate this?
This is a big budget production but even small businesses can tell the stories of their business. Try shooting a short video with a customer telling the story of when they first met you or about a time that they used your product.
RTE is Ireland’s national broadcaster. They use their Twitter account to share snippets from their archives captured on Vine as well as historic pictures.
This taps into their audiences nostalgia. The old films of Ireland seem to tell us about a simpler time that our parents or grandparents used to inhabit. We are reminded of RTÉ’s place in the history of the country and its position as a national institution.
How can small businesses recreate this?
Start creating your own archive. If you have old photos of staff, video or images taken at events start collating and sharing them. Choose 6 second snippets from your old videos and film them on Vine straight from the screen.
If your business is new start documenting now. Put together a file where you collect images, videos and stories as they happen. You should be the enthusiastic parent to your business always on hand to capture those important moments.
If you are feeling creative you could use the 1 Second Everyday app for Android or iPhone to capture moments from your entire year.
The story of the Titanic is steeped in history and its tragic end somehow makes it all the more interesting. The ship was built in Belfast and there is a ‘Titanic Experience’ tourist attraction in the city. The Titanic gives Belfast a tourism hook that excludes the recent troubles.
The Titanic Stories website is a resource packed with snippets from the lives of the people involved in the Titanic both crew and the passengers. The ‘On This Day’ page shares historic Titanic moments for each day of the year.
This site brings history to life and reels in it’s audience leaving us wanting to get closer to that history.
How can small businesses recreate this
The Titanic has a wealth of information on their website that is all shareable on social media. You can do the same with a blog. Share tips, news and stories from your business that others will want to share with their friends. As your audience learns more about you, your business and your expertise they will be more inclined to pay you a visit or hire you.
The Glasnevin Museum is based in the historic Glasnevin cemetery where many Irish heroes are buried. They use their Instagram account to take haunting pictures of the graveyard and local area. On the anniversary of famous deaths they share images of their gravestones in tribute. Many of these images are also shared on their Twitter and Facebook accounts.
Instagram is the perfect medium for this as the filters make the images look faded as if they were taken many years ago.
How can small businesses recreate this
The BBC have a webpage that lists significant news stories that happened on this day in history. History Orb delves further into the past. Take a look at these and pick out some events that you can relate to your business or industry. Create content that ties into those historic events.
Tapping in to nostalgia will help followers associate positive emotions with your business. These techniques will also help you tell stories that will make you more memorable. Customers will feel like they are part of your story and are more likely to tell their friends about you. Try it out and see if adding a bit of history to your business helps you engage your audience.
Have you used nostalgia in your social media marketing? Have you been captured by nostalgia from others? Leave me a comment below, I’d love to hear your stories.
Telling stories can help you to engage your customers attention but how can you apply storytelling to your social media marketing? We’ve all heard that a photo can tell a thousand words, I’ve found some really great example from businesses that are using visual storytelling effectively on Facebook.
1. Preparing for opening – Cafe Paradiso
If you are just starting your business you don’t have to wait until it opens to start your Facebook page. Very often it can be the story of you building towards the launch that will grab the attention of your potential customers. I used this technique when I first started Spiderworking.com and it was great to have a captive audience by the time I launched.
Cafe Paradiso is a famous and wonderful vegetarian restaurant in Cork. In 2009 it was hit badly by the floods and had to close for a while. Up until that point they hadn’t had any presence on Facebook.
The restaurant chose to start it’s Facebook page during the refurbishment after the flood. They informed customers when they were planning to reopen and began to use visual storytelling to share updates on the progress they were making on the repairs and refurbishment.
2. Showcasing your customers – Cat Vacations Cattery
Cat Vacations Cattery has really captured my attention. Even though it’s a bit of a drive it is where I will be brining my cats the next time they need a holiday home. The reason for my enthusiasm is that they share pictures of their happy customers. No not the cat owners but the cats in residence.
They don’t just share the pictures, they also share a little story with each one. The cats are the characters in their story.
This approach works in two ways:
1. I can see that the cattery is a nice place for my cats to stay and that the cats are happy there.
2. As a customer I would be delighted to be able to check in on my cats on Facebook and happy that others can see how wonderful they are.
3. Before And After Shots Waldorf Barbers & Roches Barbers
You might not think of before and after shots as being an example visual storytelling but when you think about it they are a perfect example. They tell a story quickly: this is where we started and this is where we end. I’ve found two barber shops who have made the most of this technique.
Before and after only tells part of the story. This series of photos from Roches Barbers shows a guy getting his hair shaved for charity. The half way shot and the look of slight embarrassment on the customers face says a lot.
4. Milestones – Tower Of London & The Malton
Every business has a story, how did you get to where you are today? Who are the people that made it happen? These stories can be told via Facebook milestones, add a photo to each and they are a perfect example of visual storytelling. If you plan them and share them one at a time, maybe daily over a period of time your Likers will get involved in that story.
Britain’s ‘Historic Royal Places’ have been really clever at creating Timelines for their properties. I particularly like the Tower Of London page, as well as being a great storytelling device it also teaches the audience a bit of history.
The Tower of London are fulfilling two functions here:
1. Keeping potential tourists engaged, making sure they put the Tower of London on their travel itinerary.
2.Promoting it as a place you can bring your Children, or maybe groups of school children to learn history in an entertaining way.
It’s ticking boxes for both international and local tourists.
The Malton hotel in Killarney, Ireland also uses Milestones to great effect. Flicking through their Timeline makes fascinating reading and makes a visit to the hotel even more interesting.
I can imagine those who stay at The Malton will be looking for the bars on the windows in the basement and imagining the people who were confined there by both the British and the IRA. It will make their stay part of living history and again this will be particularly attractive for the international tourist market and local historians alike.
Old photos are huge on social media at the moment, you will see them everywhere getting plenty of likes, comments and shares. Using Milestones can help you jump on this trend whilst it is still fresh.
Telling your stories like this on Facebook will make your Likers feel that they are part of your story. In the same way we keep moments from the books we read and the films we watch stored away for later you are giving your audiences moments that they will remember. This should result in your brand or business name resonating with them long in to the future. It will also make them keen to become part of the story when they visit your or buy from you.
What do you think? Does visual storytelling work? Have you used any techniques or seen any good examples? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.
Facebook milestones allow you to tell the story of your business. If you have a business full of history like the Malton Hotel in Killarney telling your story with Milestones on your Facebook business page is easy. Their building is 150 years old and I love the way they have linked to more information on each milestone to their website.
You don’t have to be a historic business to include milestones. You can include photos from your opening day, celebrate your first employee or talk about an event you have run or an award you have won.
When you share your milestones you can keep the storytelling going. Share one a day over a period of time. This way your page Likers will become involved in your story as it unravels.
Here’s how to add Milestones to your Facebook business timeline.
Note: You can only add milestones back as far as the start date you set for your business on your page.
If you want to change the start date for your page click on ‘Edit page’ at the top of your page. Choose ‘Update page info’ from the drop down menu and ‘edit’ next to ‘founded’.
Have you seen any creative examples of Milestones? Have you created Milestones on your business page? I’d love to see more examples so do leave me a comment below.
One of the biggest barriers for small businesses embarking on social media marketing is the amount of time that it can take. It can be a struggle to keep the amount of time you spend on it down whilst still achieving results.
Here’s my tips on managing your social media productively and effectively and seven social media productivity techniques I use on a daily basis to keep me focussed.
Choose your networks
A lot of businesses make the mistake of trying to manage too many networks at once. If you really want to succeed choose the networks that you know your customers and potential customers are on and concentrate your time on those.
Set aside some time to search for your existing customers online and see what networks they frequent. Once you’ve done this make a list of customers you would like to attract and do the same.
Use search tools on Twitter, Google+ and Linkedin to find out who is talking about topics related to your industry or your customers, are these people potential customers or people who might influence potential customers?
One of the reasons businesses give up on social media is that they aren’t seeing return on their time investment. The only way to measure the ROI is to set yourself goals, if you put together a strategy that will help you achieve these goals you will spend less time wondering what to post and you will value the time you spend on your marketing more.
7 Timesaving Techniques I Use Every Day
1. Content plan
I cannot stress enough how much time a content plan can save you on social media. I have always found that I waste the most time when I haven’t planned in advance. I will sit in front of my computer staring at Facebook or Twitter trying to decide what to post.
The first content schedule I created was for Twitter, I started by choosing times during the day that I wanted to schedule tweets for. I then filled these time slots with the different types of content I wanted to share. This content ranges from ‘blog post’, ‘curated link’ to a tweet promoting my newsletter. My first Twitter schedule was a word document now it lives in Evernote and I would be lost without it.
I now have a far more comprehensive content schedule. I set themes for my content and plan blog posts, videos and social media posts around it. This helps me brainstorm ideas in advance, research more fully and even get posts written before my deadlines. As a result I’m managing time better and producing better content.
Social media shouldn’t be something you just slot in when you have time. If you are committing to using social media for your business you need to set aside time to do it. It needs to become part of your daily routine.
I spend an hour every morning reading industry news, curating content and scheduling posts for the day. I also set aside time during the week for blogging and once a month for video production. The rest of my week is spent working for clients, training and preparing courses.
The result is that although I’m always under time pressure I know how much time I have to fulfil tasks and I rarely over run my social media schedule.
Hootsuite has become the most important app in my toolbox. It allows me to manage multiple Twitter accounts, keep on top of my Twitter searches and lists, schedule posts and shorten links so that I can measure performance.
The result is a massive time saving. I don’t need to use multiple tools for each of these functions as I once did, I don’t need to log in and out of Twitter accounts and I can view everything I need from one dashboard on my browser.
I use Feedly as my daily newspaper. It brings together all my Google alerts and all the latest articles from the blogs I read.
The first thing I do every morning is sit down with my iPad and my breakfast and read the news. This helps me keep up with what is happening in the social media world and it helps me find content to curate on my social media channels.
If I find something I think is worth sharing I click ‘save for later’ and pick it up later when I log in to Feedly on my computer.
One of my key procrastination black holes happens when I’m blogging. I seem to be very easy to distract when I’m writing. For some reason the promise of a fresh cat picture every time I write 100 words does seem to help. Every blog post or course I write now goes through Written Kitten first.
We are surrounded by distractions, our phones send us push notifications, our laptops tell us when we have email. To avoid this constant flow of distraction I just switch off. I check my email at allocated times during the day and I keep my phone with it’s push notifications out of site whilst I’m working. I even switch my phone off when I’m in the middle of something that requires my complete attention.
A tool I rediscovered recently is ‘Strict Workflow‘, I use it when I’m unable to exert self control. It’s a Chrome browser extension that blocks me from Facebook and Twitter for 25 minutes at a time allowing me only 5 minutes in between sessions. I have this running as I type this post and it’s working well at keeping me focussed.
It’s really important to take breaks during the day and I find the best time to have those breaks is between projects. As my job is so varied I need to reset my brain between tasks. I reward myself with a short break when a job is completed giving my brain time to wind down and wind back up to the next job in hand. I also try to take a walk every lunchtime as I find this allows my mind to wander free. I often have my best ideas whilst I’m on these walks.
I still have work to do, I haven’t yet mastered the perfect to do list although I think Trello might be the one. By putting these seven tools and techniques in place I have saved countless hours, days and even weeks on social media marketing and I see better ROI as a result.
Do you have any productivity tips for using social media? I’d love to hear them.
Finding great content that we know our audience will appreciate and sharing it with them is content curation. If it’s not already part of your online marketing strategy it should be.
Most of us are already content curators. Every time we share a link on Twitter or a photo from a Facebook page we are curating.
The Benefits Of Content Curation
It saves your time – If you create a lot of content you will know there is a huge time commitment involved. Finding and sharing content is far less time consuming and can compliment your own.
It saves your audiences time – According to an Aol & Neilson study 27,000,000 pieces of content are shared every day. For your audience this is information overload, they need an editor, someone to present the best, most informative, educational or entertaining stuff to them. By cutting through the clutter you are saving them time.
It establishes expertise – If you curate content well you are demonstrating that you know what you are talking about. Think about how a museum curator is viewed, they are clearly leading experts in their field. As a content curator you can be seen this way too. As a trusted source of information on your industry you could become known as the go to person or a thought leader on a specific topic.
10 Tips For Effective Content Curation
1. Edit fiercely, share only the best
It’s not enough just to find a whole lot of links and share them. You need to delve into the content and find the very best. People will only begin to trust the information you share if every single piece is a gem. Never share just for the sake of sharing, ask yourself if this will inform, educate or entertain your target audience.
2. Set the rules
I have a set of questions I ask myself before I share a piece of content:
1. As mentioned above ‘will this inform, educate or entertain’?
2. Is the content relevant to my audience? It’s ok to post off topic occasionally but the majority of what you share should be relevant to your industry and the interests of your target market.
3. What network is the content suitable for? For example, something I share on Linkedin or Google+ may be too heavy for my Facebook audience.
3. Use Google+ search
The search facility within Google+ is a fantastic content discovery engine. No matter what topic you search for you will find interesting content both from within Google+ and from the web. It gives you completely different results to your regular Google search and has the added advantage of allowing you to connect with new people who share your interests or expertise.
4. Use Feedly to subscribe to good content sources
Feedly is a website and an app for your mobile devices that will collate content from all your favourite blogs and sources. You just need to tell it which blogs you want to follow and it will keep tabs of them as they are updated.
I use this on a daily basis, it’s the equivalent of my daily newspaper and it’s where I find most of the content I share.
5. Use Google Alerts to find unique and interesting sources
I know every morning when I log on to Twitter I see the same Mashable and TechCrunch posts popping up in my stream over and over again.
There are always going to be some top bloggers or publishers for your industry and it is very easy to just share from these sources. To be a truly great curator you need to find some content that is less well covered by others. For this I use Google Alerts. When you add a search term to Google Alerts it will send you a feed of content related to that search term.
Create a Twitter list of all the best content creators and curators. When you scan through tweets from this list you will stumble upon content that you may have missed elsewhere. You will also find new sources to subscirbe to on Feedly.
Setting quarterly or monthly themes for your content will make the curation process much easier. Having a theme focusses your mind and it will also bring your audience along with you. For example I am covering time saving this month, most of the links I’m sharing on Facebook and Google+ fit into this theme and all the links I share in my newsletter do.
It’s tempting just throw up a list of links in a post but if you want to get the most from your curation it’s important to tell your audience why you are sharing it. A sentence or short paragraph about each link you share is all you need.
9. Send a curated newsletter
Mari Smith sends out a weekly newsletter featuring three useful links she has discovered during the week. I always enjoy seeing this drop into my mailbox and the content she shares is always top quality.
As well as sharing the links Mari gets to tell us about any offers or events she has coming up. It’s a great way to add value to an otherwise salesy newsletter.
10. Share curated content daily on your social networks
Most of you are probably already doing this but I recommend planning your shares in advance. You may not know what content will pop up and inspire you but you are able to identify how often you need to share curated content and at what time it will work best on each network you use. All that remains is for you to slot the content into your schedule as it appears.
Scheduling some of your social media posts is one of the most effective time saving tactics you can employ. It will save you time, leaving your day free for working on other aspects of your business.
The topic of social media scheduling is often controversial. I believe however that you simply cannot be effective without scheduling. Yes there are some occasions when it is inappropriate to schedule and I’ll talk about that later but unless you are going to be waiting and watching your social media channels all day, fingers poised over the keyboard, I don’t think there is a way to reach your audience when they are online without it.
1. It saves time: This has to be the number one reason. I was using social media for several years before I started scheduling with hootsuite and now I wonder how I managed without it. Now instead of posting when I get a chance I set aside time in the morning to research and post all my content.
Of course I still have to dip in and out to make sure I’m responding and conversing with people but the hard bit, finding and sharing content is out of the way.
2. Reach your audience when they are online: We all go online when we are able to. For some, like me that’s often very early in the morning, for others it’s late at night. But what if the majority of our audience isn’t online then? Do we expect them to go and check to see if they missed anything? By using scheduling you can make sure that the content you really want to see is going out when the majority of the people interested in seeing it are online.
3. To avoid flooding social media feeds: This is a biggie, bigger than you may think. If you have ever logged into Twitter, Facebook or Google+ to find your newsfeeds dominated by posts from one user you will know how annoying it can be. The last thing you want people feeling when they see your avatar popping up is that you are annoying. Scheduling content means that you can spread out the good stuff throughout the day. Not only will this stop the annoyance but people are more likely to pay attention to what you have to say.
There are some kinds of posts that are good to schedule and others that you should never schedule. Here’s the rules I stick by.
What to schedule
Curated content: All those really cool links, photos and other bits and pieces that other people create that you know your target market will love. Having a good spread of this type of content throughout the day will keep your audience entertained and coming back for more.
Your own content: Twitter is a really effective tool for sharing your content and driving traffic to your website. However if you only tweet once everytime you blog a huge portion of your audience will miss it. Depending on how else you use Twitter it is perfectly permissible to post the same link back to your content once or twice a day. Guy Kawasaki is a great example of someone who posts the same stuff at different times of the day to reach different audiences.
On Facebook you can’t really get away with the same strategy. You can really only get away with posting content once in a short space of time. You can however recycle older posts and schedule them to go out in your newsfeed weeks or months after you originally published them. Jon Loomer uses this strategy to great effect.
There are a whole range of updates that you make on an everyday basis that you can schedule, almost all of your social media can be handled this way. There are some things you should never schedule though.
What not to schedule
Conversations – This seems kind of obvious, trying to schedule a real time conversation in the future is a big no no. Conversing with people on Twitter is hugely important but it has to happen in the here and now. Yes it’s true you may have several hours between tweets in a conversation but that’s OK, pretending you are online talking when you aren’t is deceptive and won’t inspire trust in those you converse with.
Stuff that is happening now – Again it seems obvious but if you are sharing a picture of something that is happening in your office today, a beautiful sunset or breaking news share it as it’s happening not at some time in the future claiming that it is now.
Both of the above come down to transparency, you need to be honest online. I have no problem admitting that I schedule some tweets but if it seems like I’m tweeting something in real time you know I am.
Where Can You Schedule
Currently you can schedule posts to:
Google+ Business Pages
Google+ profiles – although this is complex
Pinterest – Although none of the tools come recommended by my colleague and Pinterest fanatic Lorna Sixsmith.
Blog Posts (most blogging platforms)
How to Schedule
From the above only Facebook and blogs have inbuilt scheduling solutions. To schedule posts to the rest you will need to use third party applications. Here’s a list of some of the tools I have used
Hootsuite – This is my social media dashboard, I use it every day to schedule tweets. I tend to only use it for Twitter although other social networks are available too. I don’t use it for Facebook or Google+ as posts appear with Hootsuite branding underneath.
Post Planner (affiliate link)- Before Facebook scheduling got better Post Planner was the quickest and easiest way to schedule posts. It has far more to offer than basic scheduling. You can schedule in bulk, there is a content engine that will help you find great content to share and it will suggest posts to you.
Do Share – This tool is the only one I’ve come across that allows you to schedule to Google+ profile pages. It’s a plugin for the Chrome browser and you have to have your browser open and connected to the internet when you want your post to go out. It’s not ideal but it works.
When to schedule
As I mentioned above one of the beauties of scheduling your posts is that it allows you to reach your audience when they are online. But how do you find out when this is? Here’s a couple of tools that will help you:
Hootsuite – If you are a Hootsuite user you have the option to ‘autoschedule’ tweets. This is probably the most interesting Twitter scheduling option.
Most tools determine times to tweet based on when most of your followers are online. Hootsuite learns when the best times to tweet are for you dependent on how popular previous tweets have been. When you schedule a tweet it will rank that time of day depending on what response you get to the tweet. The more you schedule the better the algorithm will understand which times work best for you. Here’s a basic explanation from their customer service team.
Tweriod – Tweriod analyses your Twitter followers to determine when they are most likely to be online. It breaks down it’s results into days of the week. Once you have collated the information you can input it into your content schedule using a tool like Buffer.
Scheduling will save you a whole heap of time on your social media marketing but it’s important to keep some updates real time. If you are still skeptical give it a go for a week and see if your productivity and response rate improves.
One of the biggest barriers for small businesses using social media is the time it takes. Yes we want to blog, to have a Facebook page, tweet, use Pinterest but we also have to run our businesses.
The best way to save time on your social media activities is to create a good content schedule, strategy and plan. You may need to put a bit of time in initially but you will find that the amount of time you spend daily on your online marketing will decrease significantly. If you do it right you’ll also see better results.
The benefits of a content schedule
Setting aside a few hours each month to plan content for the weeks ahead will really save you time on your day to day tasks. It’s all too easy to get distracted by red flags on Facebook or notifications on Google+ particularly if you are trying to find something to post. Your content schedule will focus your mind and you are less likely to procrastinate.
When you put together your social media plan you will define goals and set targets. Once you have those in place you just need to find the content that will help you achieve those goals. Not only are you more likely to see results but you have a yardstick to measure yourself against.
You might think that having a plan is too rigid for you, you like to be spontaneous with your content. I have found that I am more spontaneous and creative when I have a plan in place. Once I have taken care of the nitty gritty my mind is free to wander and create.
The foundation of any social media strategy is to define two key things;
1. What do you want to achieve? - Be as specific as possible here. You need to set SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely). Here’s some suggestions
More social media followers – e.g. I want to increase my Facebook Likers by 50% in the next two months.
Brand awareness – e.g. I want to see a 50% increase in Twitter mentions of my business in the next two months.
More email subscribers – e.g. I want to double the amount of email newsletter subscribers in the next two months.
More customer enquiries – e.g. I want to get 50% more customer enquiries via my website contact form in the next two months.
More repeat custom – e.g. I want to increase the number or returning customers to my online shop by 25% in the next quarter.
More sales of a specific product or service – e.g. I want to sell 250 online courses in the next 3 months.
Once you have set these goals it becomes easier to create a path towards achieving them. It will help you deifne what content you share with what end in mind.
2. Who do you want to reach? - The better you can define your target market the more you will achieve. If your target is wide it’s worth segmenting them and optimising different parts of your campaign for each segment.
Here are some questions you need to ask yourself about your target market to get started:
Are they Male or Female?
What age group do they fall into?
What are their interests?
Do they work? If so at what?
Are they in full time education? If so what level?
Once you have defined your audience or audiences you can choose the social networks that they are most likely to frequent and concentrate your efforts on them.
Write each month of the coming year in the first column of the monthly content schedule.
If you have any time specific events during those months include those in the ‘Topic & Focus’ section
Choose a SMART goal that you would like to attain within that month.
Choose a theme for that month that will help you achieve that goal, themes can last longer than a month particularly if they are introducing a new product, benefit or service.
See my example for Spiderworking.com above
Your Weekly Schedule
When you defined your audience you made a decision about what networks you should be using, now you have to decide how frequently you are going to post.
Depending on your choices of social network these are some of the questions you need to ask yourself:
How often will you blog?
How often will you create a video?
How often will you post to Facebook?
How often will you post to Google+?
How often will you post to groups and your status on Linkedin?
How often will you tweet?
How often will you pin?
You also need to factor in conversation for each of these networks, it’s not just what you post but who you talk to.
How often will you comment on others blog posts?
How often will you interact with other business pages on Facebook?
How often will you comment on content on Google+?
How often will you comment on posts in groups you belong to on Linkedin?
How often will you get into conversations on Twitter?
With this in mind it’s time to start brainstorming around your themes and the content you are going to create.
Come up with blog titles, video titles, content types that you need to create.
Your Daily Schedule
Now you are in to the real detail. Complete the daily content schedule. Define what type of content you are going to publish on what day of the week and to which networks.
For example - Every Monday in March you will
1. post an inspirational photo to Facebook
2. Tweet 3 links to great blog posts you have found on your chosen topic
3. Get into 2 twitter conversations with people searching for info about your chosen topic
4. Pin three articles around your chosen topic
Now you have completed your content schedule keep it close at hand. Keep an eye on those SMART goals and how you are progressing. If you aren’t meeting your goals remember the calendar isn’t set in stone, you should adapt it as you go.