Let’s face it. These days, social media is unavoidable. Almost everyone uses it — my great aunt included (hi, Aunt Mae!) — but there’s a difference between using social media and using it well. And that difference is having a social media strategy.
I’ve spent nearly a decade learning the ins and outs of digital marketing. I’ve crafted social media strategies for small businesses, non profits, larger companies, authors, entrepreneurs, and more. And – while the platforms continue to change — some things have stayed the same.
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1. You need to have a strategy.
A social media strategy is the difference between firing one hundred arrows blindfolded versus five arrows aiming straight at your target. Yes, your Instagram presence might be helping your business. Sure, the time you’re spending on Twitter could be beneficial. And, to some degree, I’m sure it is.
However, when it comes to business (or branding), your return-on-investment matters. What most people don’t realize? With social media, your biggest investment isn’t money.
It’s your time.
Your time is incredibly valuable, whether you realize it or not. It’s what we invest into our passions, into our business, and into our relationships. If you don’t have a social media strategy — or at least a hint of a plan — then you risk wasting your valuable time when it could be spent elsewhere.
2. You need to know your goals.
Your goals drive your methods. In an episode of The Writing Coach Podcast, Rebecca Weber describes “the model”. The model is the process by which we process our circumstances and end up at a specific result.
You might be thinking, “Well, my circumstance is that I’m an unpublished author. I can’t change that result, an agent/publisher does.” Well…you’re wrong. Sorry.
See, the first step of the model is your circumstance. Your circumstance is factual, unemotional, and just IS. Your circumstance might be that you’re unpublished. It might be that you’re unemployed. It might be that you want to move out of your parents house. It’s actually less important than you might think. (No offense.)
The second step, is your feelings. This is how you feel about the circumstance. Unpublished? This could probably leave you feeling rejected and depressed. Or, it could leave you inspired and driven. Both are valid options.
Next, is thoughts. What are you thinking about how you feel? If you’re feeling rejected, you might be thinking, “I must not be good enough,” or “No one will ever publish my book.” If you’re feeling inspired, you could think, “I need to work harder,” or “I should edit my manuscript (again).”
The fourth is actions. What actions will you take as a result of your thoughts? If you’re thinking you aren’t good enough, will you be driven to improve? Maybe. Hopefully. Or you might be driven to give up.
That brings us to results. What happens if you give up? If you feel rejected, think “No one will ever publish my book,” and therefore stop querying? Stop writing? Stop altogether?
No one ever publishes your book.
That’s because your thoughts drive your actions. (And therefore your results.) This is why goals matter SO MUCH. Take a step beyond the vague — don’t just say “I want to be published” — be more specific with how you’re going to use social media to help you get published. “I want to hit X number of followers on Twitter and connect with ______ agents by January 2019.”
Having that goal will help define your thoughts, which in turn creates your actions, and will drive you to the result you want.
3. You need to be willing to change.
No social media strategy is the same. Ever. I know, I know, you’re probably thinking, “Of course I know that. Every person, every brand, every book, every company is different — so every strategy needs to be different.”
If you thought that, you’re actually in the minority. Most people don’t acknowledge that social media varies on a case by case basis because they want it to be easy as doing what Person A or Business B did.
You can glean information from said person or business. You can copy certain elements of their strategy (and by copy, I mean not like…copy copy. We don’t do plagiarism, here) and make them work for you. However, you’ll need to find what works for you.
Here’s where it gets difficult.
What works for you now might not work for you in six months.
As your audience changes, as social media platforms themselves change, as the world changes, so must your social media strategy. Three years ago, my strategy revolved around Facebook and Twitter. Now, Instagram is one of the most important platforms in my arsenal. YouTube is growing in priority for my personal brand, but — for others — it’s shrinking.
You have to be willing to adapt, to try new things, and to get it wrong.
We’re rarely comfortable with being wrong, but it’s we learn best through failure. We learn best when we take a look at our Twitter Analytics and go, “Oh shit. No one is seeing my tweets. No one is interacting with my tweets. I’m spending four hours a day retweeting and sharing things to an empty room. I can’t get that time back.”
You’re right. You can’t get that time back. However, that time helped you learn that Twitter might not be the best path for you (right now). It might help you discover that you should be spending more time on YouTube or Instagram or Facebook or even Tumblr.
It goes back to that return-on-investment, or ROI, and your time.
Where is it paying off? If it isn’t, it’s time to switch it up.
4. You need help.
Help takes a lot of forms. Before you click away, this isn’t a sales pitch. Sure, you could hire a digital marketer to do this for you. You could hire a coach to walk you through it. I’ve done both, and I’ve spent hundreds — if not thousands — of hours coaching people on (and managing) social media through out my career.
But to me, help is learning. Help is reading a blog post (like this!) or listening to a podcast. Or, help can be asking someone a question or getting a book from the library on the subject. Sometimes, help is getting a Chance Card so you can skip a few spaces and pass Go. (If you want to share some of that $200, hit me up.)
When I decided to relaunch my blog + YouTube channel, my goal was to help people. I don’t want to sell anything (I mean, besides my book, which is fiction and you should read it and please don’t hate me) and I don’t want anything out of it. I just want to help people reach their full potential so they can live happy, healthy, and creative lives.
If you want my help, then you can download my free Social Media Platform Planner.
If you don’t want my help, then keep learning. Keep improving. Keep absorbing and using that knowledge to your benefit. Toss the things you don’t need, then move on to the next.
I hope this is useful, and I hope it helps. (Ha! I helped regardless.)
If you have any questions about social media, creativity, or life in general, you can follow me on Twitter or Instagram and shoot me a message. Otherwise, don’t forget to subscribe to my YouTube channel so we can talk about more helpful things in the future.
Keep improving, friends! ✨