Over the past few years, I have trained thousands of small business owners in social media skills through Digital Women, as a Meta #Shemeansbusiness trainer, and as a Meta Lead Trainer. Many of these sessions include Q&A and in each session, there are sure to be at least 4-5 of the same questions asked and answered.
The questions I get asked range from the weird to the whacky to the out there and the sometimes obvious. But no question is a stupid question. All questions ultimately leads to new knowledge that helps business owners use social media more meaningfully for their business.
I can almost guarantee that these questions will get asked at almost every session I hold. And whilst for the more experienced of us the answers to these questions may seem obvious but remember that we all started somewhere and if you are starting a business or freelance career for the first time, this could be your first touch point with social media as a business owner.
Most people use social media daily to connect with friends, join communities, follow the news and so on but using social media in a marketing capacity is a whole different story. And while new business owners are skilled at their business offering they aren’t usually marketers and unfortunately most of the time, the cost to hire a marketer or social media marketer is often out of reach, especially when working on a budget or if you are using your savings to start and need to bootstrap.
With that in mind let’s take a look at these questions and how I would usually answer them. Before I start, if you are a small business owner looking for the answers to these questions, I’ll warn you you may not get the answer you are looking for… the answer is mostly, it depends.
How often should I post on social media?
Ah the million dollar question, how often should I post on social media? The answer is, it depends!
Let’s dive into this a little bit more. First of all, there is no tried and tested frequency of posts you should create and post for social media however you should aim to remain consistent. If you decide you are using a specific social channel such as Linkedin or Twitter or Instagram or all channels then you need to make a commitment to post. The reason for this is that its part of the journey that customers take. When a customer sees an ad for your product or services they are sometimes likely to go on a little adventure through your social media channels to see if you are trustworthy, you are still trading and so on. If you haven’t posted for a long time, it could give off vibes that you aren’t there anymore. So if you commit to a channel, commit to posting consistently.
Posting consistently doesn’t mean daily posting or posting 3 times per day. It could mean once per week.
So how do you determine how often you should post?
in all honesty, if you’re just starting to use social media I would see how often you are able to post good quality and meaningful content as part of your workday routine and establish a flow.
You may start with posting every day and find this is too much to maintain, after all, you have a business to run right? Look for a pattern that is achievable. And this is why I always recommend creating a content plan or a simple calendar that notes what you are going to post and when.
Over time as you create content and post, you’ll start to get an idea of whether a. It’s easy to maintain and b. Whether it’s having any impact on your customers, measure this by how much engagement you are getting on your posts. `if you aren’t getting any engagement it could mean that the content isn’t quite right but don’t let that deter you from posting regularly. This brings me to the next question…
How do I get more engagement on my social media content?
This is one of my all-time fave questions to answer! Social media isn’t as easy as it seems, you can’t just post something on Instagram and expect it to get loads of likes, comments, saves etc!
You have to understand what is going to make your customers get excited! And by excited I mean just be motivated enough to stop on your social media post and be compelled enough to comment or click or do something. If you are posting very generic promotional copy this isn’t going to get people excited. As a rule of thumb you need to spend at least 80% of the time creating content that builds trust, makes people laugh, helps them connect with you or incites some emotion, when you really understand your audience and what makes them tick you can do this. Remember your customers aren’t everyone!! Not everyone wants what you have to sell.
Also, it’s very hard to sell to everyone, there are simply too many messages to the market. So really drill down on that one customer you want to talk to and understand everything there is to know about them. There will be thousands of this person so it’s not one person you are marketing to but you are being specific to this person’s wants and needs and motivations and therefore you can create content that makes an impact on them.
In a nutshell, know your audience, understand what problems they have and how you can play into those with fun content and then how you can help them to solve that problem through your content. You’ll also need to understand what motivates them to take an action such as a like, a share, comments or we hope, ‘a sale’.
What time should I post on social media?
The answer is (as usual) it depends! And this is never the answer a small business owner wants, they want to know what time of day or day of the week they should post content so that they can get the most engagement from their audience (if they have one yet).
So why does it depend? It depends because this is hugely dependent on your audience, where they are located and so on. Saying 1 pm Tuesdays is the best time for everyone to post is detrimental – imagine if everyone posted on social media at the same time? It’s ridiculous to suggest that there is a time to post for everyone.
The right answer is to look at your insights or analytics which are normally provided for free by the social network you are using. What time is your content getting the most engagement? What days, what time is your content getting viewed the most?
Over time, as you post more content on social media you’ll start to understand when your content gets the most action. You can only get to this point by testing content, testing posting at different times of the day for at least a few months. And then once you have established a schedule of content times and days things can change again! The point is, it’s not something you should spend too much time stressing over. It’s far better to make sure you are creating content for your audience and posting regularly than it is to worry about what days and times you are posting.
What should I post on social media?
If I had a penny… I would be rich! – So look it’s not easy is it? To create social media content that people want to engage with or that’s going to lead people to take action.
Plus, there is a lot of great content out there already and now, of course, video is prominent so you’re a business owner that is now also a content creator! Gah! Look, honestly, you can do this! First off, if you’ve done the work on your customer persona, you know your audience and what type of information they need. But there are so many ways to put that information across to them. Start by writing down all of your ideas for content. Then scroll, scroll through social media and take a moment to see what type of content catches your eye and ask yourself why. Make a note, and take some screenshots to keep in a folder ‘content ideas’. Look at businesses that serve a similar or the same audience, what are they doing, and what is working? Now, you should never copy these posts but certainly, take ideas from them! Tools like Canva can provide much-needed inspiration too. In fact, this is the perfect tool for creating content for small busy business owners because they include great templates for both static posts and video posts so you don’t have to have amazing graphic design skills. Don’t be afraid to experiment with content, tap into trending audio and video on TikTok or Via Instagram reels.
Over time, you’ll get into the flow and understand what type of content your audience loves and how to deliver it!
How do I get more followers on social media?
Honestly? Why do you care so much? I always throw this back to the questioner, why? Because really you shouldn’t be focusing on how many followers you have, you have gained or have lost but rather who is following you.
It’s much better to have 100 very engaged followers than 5,000 followers who couldn’t care less about you, your content or your business. Then it’s a matter of if you are doing all of those things we talked about in the answers to the other questions, know your audience, post consistently content that engages them by understanding them, they will start to follow you because they want to hear from you and consume your content.
You can do other things too! You can add a call to action (CTA) at the end of your posts and say if you enjoyed this post follow me or connect with me for more information.
In some ways followers do matter because from a perception point of view for customers it shows people like you, they follow you and so you can be trusted. But really focus on your customer, posting the right content and asking them to then follow you (if this is important to you).
To be honest, if you have the chance to add a call to action to your posts I wouldn’t be trying to get more followers. Go back to your goals (setting goals for what you want to achieve on social media is important) and see what CTA is best to use to help you reach your goals. If a goal is to increase the engagement you should be asking questions or finding ways to get your followers involved in the post. If it’s making sales, you should be signposting your customers to a product listing, if it’s getting more subscribers to your mail list ask customers to sign up and so on!
Followers will come over time, don’t make it the ultimate focus.
These are some of the questions I get asked most and I hope in answering these questions it helps to provide clarity for more small business owners or freelancers.
Digital Women is a community set up to empower women through digital skills education. If you would like to learn more about creating a social media content plan you can take our CPD accredited course via digitalwomen.club.
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By Lucy Hall – Founder & Community Lead, Digital Woman