The internet gives small businesses a great opportunity for growing their business, however it also brings with it plenty of headaches! Many businesses know they should be using social media, but are unsure how to get started, so end up flailing around doing ‘a little bit of everything’, which results in a whole lot of nothing! Businesses may then feel that social media ‘doesn’t work for them’, and give up.
It doesn’t have to be that way though! By working from even a basic plan, small businesses get involved in social media in a much easier and more efficient way, bringing much better results and making great in-roads with social media.
If you’re already managing social media accounts for your business and do so without breaking a sweat, this post may be too basic for you. However if you haven’t yet started, have started but given up, or are currently struggling to manage social media for your business, then hopefully this post will help you. Don’t miss the ‘social media cheat sheet’ at the end of the post either – for a one-page overview. Hey – No cheating though (pun intended)! Be sure to read the whole post first, to put the cheat sheet in context.
Social Networks Covered
Although this plan works well with most social media platforms, we’re focusing mainly on:
If you’re in the B2B sector, then you may wish to add LinkedIn. If you run an ecommerce stores that sells products with a high visual appeal, you may wish to add Pinterest. When adding each of these, try to use similar tactics laid out in this post. If you’re unsure how to do this – or if you have advice for others, leave a comment at the end of the post.
Preparing to Start Your Social media management Workflow
Before you even consider starting to try to manage your social media presence in a short period of time, you really need a few things in place:
A social media management tool
An understanding of how your business should sound (Tone of Voice)
A list of relevant, interesting and authoritative websites & social accounts
A pot of coffee
This isn’t always 100% necessary, however consider this… Social media is about being social (doh!), and filling in your profile with a photo, business or personal info and other profile data will help the people you’re communicating with understand more about you. It will also help create a greater degree of trust. People like to communicate with other people, not faceless accounts with no real profile info.
Social Media management Tool
There’s a plethora of social media management tools out there these days, from free ones up to ones that charge upwards of $1500 per month, depending on the size of your plan.
If you already have a favourite social media management tool, great! If not, here are a couple you might want to look at:
Hootsuite Social media management tool
Hootsuite has a free account as well as paid upgrades. Using this tool you can schedule posts, check multiple social networks at once and respond in the app, rather than logging in to the respective social media networks.
One point to note with Hootsuite is that if you want to have more than one account AND want to be able to moderate the shares of one of your members (can be useful), you’ll need a Hootsuite Enterprise account, the price of which isn’t on their site, but I believe it to be in the region of $1000 to $1500 per month (feel free to comment at the end of this post if you know a more accurate price).
Hootsuite’s well supported, with lots of add-on apps and a decent educational programme.
Sprout Social is a social media management tool similar to Hootsuite, however this one’s paid only (no free account, but they do have a 30 day free trial).
One advantage Sprout Social appears to have over Hootsuite is that, even with their lower priced accounts, there’s a degree of moderation built in, so you can check what your staff are scheduling to go live before it’s actually made live.
Do you have another social media management tool you’d recommend? Drop a comment below & let us know!
Social Media Tone of Voice
People will trust your business more when they can understand it’s personality. By using a consistent tone of voice you’ll make it much easier for people to know what to expect from you, which makes it easier for people to like you too.
This is important for any business, but the more people you have using your businesses social media accounts, the greater the importance, otherwise your business may end up seeming like it has a personality disorder, contradicting itself frequently!
What should your business sound like?
Create a short document outlining ‘who’ your company is and ‘how’ it should sound. Even if you’re the only one using social media within your business, it will help you now and in the future.
Include in the document how you should deal with complaints (a little more on this later!)
List of Relevant Websites & Social Accounts
Having a list of websites that you feel publish information that you feel is useful and interesting to your audience can really help you to share content that will be interesting to your audience.
Me Me ME – No No NO
The reason you want to have a list of sites at hand that share posts your users will find interesting? Because nobody likes anyone that just talks about themselves all the time!
Just sharing your own content on social media is kinda like standing in the corner of a bar shouting about yourself in a continuous monologue, then wondering why nobody takes you seriously!
There’s no hard n fast rule here, it’s different for every business, but try to share at least 70% to 80% of other people’s (interesting!) content.
These don’t need to be direct competitors either, for example we write about social media, but yet our list contains non-social media related sites too, as we know they may be interesting to our readers, for example:
Wordstream’s blog – People responsible for social media may well handle PPC for their business, or at least communicate with those that do. The Wordstream blog is an amazing resource for anyone wanting to stay on top of their PPC game. Larry Kim’s posts are great!
SEO by The Sea – Likewise, those interested in social media are also likely to be interested in SEO and Google’s twists and turns. Bill Slawski’s blog is another amazing resource! Bill is pretty much the go-to resource for anything relating to Google’s patent applications and how they may relate to real-world SEO. He has some super-interesting posts on semantic indexing and entities in search too.
Kiss Metrics blog – Pretty much anyone running an online business can benefit from increasing conversion rates, lowering the friction visitors have with their site and improving usability – So we know the posts on the Kiss Metrics blog are likely to be of interest to our readers.
Why Share Other People’s Shizzle?
Three main reasons:
As already mentioned, nobody likes people who just shout about themselves – don’t let your business be the weirdo in the corner of the room sat talking to themselves! Get SOCIAL on social.
By sharing things you think your audience will find interesting, you’ll increase the likelihood that they’ll come back to check out your profile more often and take notice of what you say – Turn your social media accounts into a useful resource for your audience, the payoff will be worth the effort.
The people you mention and re-share the content of may well RT you back and return the favour, which expands the reach of your social accounts – and so your business, even further.
Down to Business – The 30 Minute a Day Social media Management Plan
This plan is a framework to start from. Once you get going and are full to grips with the plan, it’s fine to vary your work and deviate from this plan – So long as you KNOW you are doing it, you understand WHY you’re doing it and you have a plan for measuring the results.
It’s also likely that you will sometimes spend a little over 30mins, however if you stay focused and work efficiently, it really should be possible. Do consider though, that once you start seeing real results from social media for your business, you may want to eventually start putting a little more time towards your social media work. The following gameplan should be enough to get you started though.
Also note that this is your general daily workflow, it does not include dealing with major issues such as customer complaints or getting distracted and into in-depth conversations!
If you get a complaint, see the ‘dealing with complaints’ section
If you feel yourself getting distracted, try to re-focus back to your workflow! You can always come back to a conversation once you’ve finished your workflow session, if you choose to do that.
Where we mention scheduling a ‘selection’ of shares to go live over the day, there’s no set number of shares to schedule. You’ll likely get a feel for how many is right for your business, but as a start, try to schedule between 3 to 5 shares over the day, in addition to replying to mentions and comments.
Social Media Small Business Workflow – A Game of Two halves
We recommend dividing your workflow up into two halves;
15mins in the morning
15mins in the afternoon
Morning Social Media Workflow
Twitter – 5 mins
Check for private messages – get rid of any spam, reply to any relevant ones or flag anything important to the relevant member of staff
Check for any mentions and where possible think of a way to reply to them (even if it’s just saying thanks)
Check for any new followers – if they look like spammers, block them. If not, thank them. If possible, take a quick glance over their profile and decide which two or three of your new followers are likely to be most interesting to interact with. Then, see if you can personalise your response to them (look at their profile more, then the last few Tweets they’ve shared). The goal here is to create a decent interaction.
Schedule a selection of tweets and Retweets (using your list of interesting & relevant sites) to go live over the course of the rest of the day. Be sure to pick posts you think people will find interesting.
Try to include the occasional image too in your Tweets. Memes, so long as relevant can do well, as can infographic style images.
RT any shares in your home feed that you find interesting
Facebook – 5 mins
Check for any comments left on your Facebook page and respond appropriately. Be sure to thank people where needed and ask questions too if you can (by responding and asking questions you do two things, 1) You show the person your listening and interested in their opinion, 2) Without going in to too much detail, due to Facebook’s ‘edgerank’ algorithm you want to encourage as much interaction with your Facebook audience as possible – getting into a friendly, meaningful discussion on your Facebook page in the comments is a good thing).
Check for any PMs
Flag any issues to the relevant staff member
Schedule a selection of shares to go live over the day, from your list of interesting sites (DO NOT just copy/paste your tweets! Twitter & Facebook are two very different beasts, you’ve got much more room on Facebook, so make the most of it!)
Try to include some amount of videos & image share too (If you’re stuck, check for YouTube channels of the list of interesting sites!).
Google Plus – 5 mins
Check for any comments on your Google+ page
Check for any new followers of your page and try to engage with them (thank them, comment on one of the shares on their page, etc.
Schedule a selection of interesting shares to go live over the day.
As with Facebook, try to share videos occasionally
+mention the people whose posts and shares you’re re-sharing
Check for a relevant Google Plus community to join, or if you’re already a member of one, find a couple of shares in that community to comment on, re-share, or both.
Well done! That’s taken care of Twitter, Facebook and Google+ in 15mins! Go grab a coffee then get on with the rest of your day! See you in the afternoon
Afternoon Social Media Session
Twitter – 5 mins
Check for any replies or mentions from the morning session, reply appropriately
Check for any DMs from the morning session, reply appropriately
Often when you get to work you’re too busy to start right away, so make things easy on yourself, and schedule a tweet to go live in the morning to buy you some time!
Add one influencer in your industry to a public twitter list (don’t need to do this every day, a couple of times a week is fine – pick the best people).
Facebook – 5 mins
Check for any comments or messages and reply.
As with Twitter, schedule a share or two to go live first thing, to buy you some well needed time in the morning.
Google Plus – 5 mins
Check for any comments and reply appropriately
Spend 2 or 3 mins looking over other people’s shares and try to find one or two to comment on.
When you find a share on someone else’s account worth sharing, add that person to a circle (create a new circle if you don’t have an appropriate one for them already). Note: People will be notified you added them to a circle, but won’t be told what the circle you added them to is called.
This section isn’t within the 30 mins a day workflow, it’s for the times of tactical campaign launches. So long as you stick to a similar workflow to the above, you should start to create a few meaningful interactions on social media. When you’re ready to have a big push (the start of a content marketing campaign, a PR push or a new blog post, for example), this will come in very handy!
During such times, if you’ve played your cards right and been a useful, non-spammy social media user, you should find people re-share your tweets, facebook shares and Google shares without being prompted. If you’ve got an especially good relationship with one or two people, don’t be afraid to send them a private message asking if they’d consider re-sharing it though – but only do this if you feel you’ve got a strong enough relationship, and be sure to be swift to do the same in return if asked.
Additionally, if you’ve been an active, useful member of a few Google Plus communities, it’s usually find to share your content on there too – just be sure you:
Stick to the terms of the group – if it say’s no sharing your own posts, don’t do it
Carry on engaging with other posts in the community
Don’t publish your own content very often
Dealing With Complaints on Social Media
I couldn’t finish this post without mentioning complaints. It wouldn’t be uncommon for a business to declare fear of complaints on social networks is one of the things that stops them using social media.
However to counter that argument, it’s likely that people will do this anyway – the only difference is that by not getting involved, the conversation will be going on without you – leaving customers feeling ignored and potential customers less confident in dealing with your business.
So get stuck in!
Follow the guidelines above and treat people with respect and you should be fine. However if you do receive complaints, here’s some advice:
Do NOT Ignore or Delete Complaints
We all like to be heard, especially when we’re feeling aggrieved. If you see a complain on social media about you or your company, say for example a comment on your Facebook page, then don’t ignore it and don’t delete it (he exception to this is if someone is acting as a troll instead of posting a legitimate complaint. If you suffer abusive trolling then ignoring this/flagging/deleting the comments is okay – pretty much the worst thing you can do with a troll, is feed them.).
Don’t Leave Legitimate Complaints Hanging
If you know how to resolve the complaint, that’s great – do it, and reply to the person complaining explaining how you’ve handled their complaint, thanking them for their feedback.
If you’re not sure how to deal with their complaint and need to ask advice from elsewhere in the business, don’t leave the complaint hanging in the meantime!
It’s unlikely that if a customer complained in a shop, you’d just walk off without replying to the customer to ask someone else’s opinion, you’d at least explain to the customer that you’re going to get someone to help!
Just like in a real-world store, at the very least let the person know they’ve been heard and that you’re looking into this right away for them. Where appropriate, ask them for more information, but try to avoid asking them to repeat themselves, as, let’s face it, most of us find that very annoying!.
Make People Feel Valued
Once the problem has been dealt with, explain what’s happened and ask if the person complaining is now satisfied, and if you can help them in any other way. Try to move the conversation onto the phone too if appropriate.
If the person complaining has highlighted a real issue, one that’s since been solved, be sure to let them know that you really appreciate them taking the time to help you improve your business. By doing this – and sometimes including a discount of their next shop – or even something fun like a free box of chocolates with a thank you card, you can turn someone that was previously an unhappy customer, into someone that may well end up coming back to you in the future, or recommending you to others. Even if they don’t anyone watching the conversation on social media will get a very positive impression of how you deal with customers and how much you value their opinion.
Social Media Management Cheat Sheet
To help keep you on track, we’ve created a simple two-page ‘social media cheat sheet’ for you to work from.
The cheat sheet is:
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