Dear Design Doctor
I do want to get more involved with social media. But, do I really need to spend the whole day replying to tweets and liking Facebook posts if I want to expand my network? Is there another way for the social media averse?
The Design Doctor for this real life question is Hilary Pullen, a social media manager and strategist working predominantly in the creative sector.
She also writes www.ukcraftblog.com, a helpful resource for craft bloggers looking to boost traffic to their blogs and build up awareness of their handmade products.
‘The desire to grow your following can become addictive and like you, many people find they spend all day aimlessly clicking and tinkering with their social media accounts with no real strategy in place.
They are inconsistent, they don’t plan their content and they don’t measure their results, they just feel drained and demotivated, unsure whether they are seeing a return on their investment of time.
Many people end up resenting social media due to lack lustre results.
When it’s going well, you will learn to love social media marketing as a fun tool that can enhance your creativity, and not a time wasting chore.
I have a strategy that will take around 7 hours of your time per week – that’s a very manageable 1 hour per day on average – choose a day off too, you can schedule updates on this day!
1. Develop a strategy
Create a document outlining your social media marketing plan. This needs to clearly identify who you want to connect with, where you will connect with them and what type of things you want to share and say to them. It also outlines resources and time you will commit to social media in detail.
2. Set goals
Within your strategy you need to identify the goals of your social media marketing. For example these could be:
- Raising awareness of your brands and products
- Connecting with an existing fan base to encourage repeat custom and brand loyalty
- Engaging with influencers, galleries and experts in your field to garner more promotional opportunities
- Increase subscriber numbers to your email list
Brainstorm ways in which the above goals can be achieved across each social media channel. For example:
- To connect with influencers, create niche twitter lists to refer to when networking.
- To increase email subscribers, plan a competition using Pinterest
- To raise awareness of your brand set a goal of commenting on the updates of five gallery owners per week on Facebook.
3. Measure success
You need to work out how you will measure your success.
I measure success by how engaged my following are rather than relying purely on numbers of new fans and followers I have gained. This means how much interaction they have with my content, sharing, re-tweeting, liking and commenting. I want the accounts I look after to appear like busy, attractive places to be – like a cafe with people spilling into the street, chatting and smiling.
If you focus on this measurement rather than on numbers, it forces you to focus on your content – just like a cafe needs to have great coffee and amazing cakes to keep me coming back! (and bringing my friends)
When you really focus on the type of content you are sharing and why, you become acutely aware of your niche market. Your research is an excellent exercise for your growing business. Understanding your niche market can help you really define your brand and your particular style of communication.
It will also make your time spent social networking and researching, more enjoyable and more fruitful.
The more targeted your followers are the more engagement you will see across all your networks.
5. Outline planning
I make a skeleton plan for a typical week of content, writing down the type of post that should go up on a specific network. For some people this may be two Facebook and Twitter updates per day, one blog and one Pinterest board a week, for others it may be much less or more.
Write everything down into a timetable.
I create a very simple table and outline the type of content (eg. chatty update / inspiring image / blog archive link / product link). I’ll share over the course of a week on each channel and roughly at what time I’ll post or schedule it.
This enables me to plan ahead for the various client accounts I manage – you could add these directly into an online calendar if you prefer.
Create your skeleton schedule and stick to it – this is your absolute minimum, the hope is that some weeks you might have time to do much more but you will never do less. All your accounts need to be consistently updated with top quality content.
6. Weekly research
Time for research should be a weekly, enjoyable task. Use it only to find resources, from amazing Pinterest boards to beautiful blogs as well as your own work and work in progress. Add it to your calendar as if it were an important meeting that cannot be rescheduled!
If I find a new blog or network that fits the niche of one of my clients, I bookmark it or add it to my Google reader. Get into the habit of doing this, rather then getting distracted and scanning through all the archives of the blog you have found. It will boost your productivity and your cache of niche resources.
I make time every day to scan through (and comment on if time permits) new posts from these niche blogs which are all stored in folders. Don’t worry if you don’t read them all every day, just scan the titles and check for any great shares – allow yourself to be inspired.
Finally after all that planning, scheduling and research, which I tend to do in bulk in one morning session, I spend a set amount of time per day actually networking across the channels. My advice is to be consistently online at the same kind of time, two to three times a day, for 5 to 10 minutes each time, focusing on one network at a time. set an alarm if you get distracted easily!
There are many more networking tips to discover over on my blog www.ukcraftblog.com – just don’t get too distracted!”
Want more help with social media for your creative business?
Hilary Pullen has recently written an excellent book called Online Marketing for Your Craft Business: How to get your handmade products discovered, shared and sold on the internet that will help you become more strategic and less haphazard with social media. In this book she explains in detail how to set goals, create action plans and a social media calendar.
In short: how to stop wasting your time and make social media much more effective for your creative business!