According to a VerticalResponse survey , the average entrepreneur spends over 6 hours per week on social media for marketing and other purposes. Multiplied by the total number of weeks per year and that’s 312 hours annually. It’s not exactly time wasted though. Social media is a cost-effective way to engage customers, advertise services, and market products. It’s especially effective in reaching diverse, massive audiences quickly, if posting across multiple sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn, to name a popular few. While over 3.2 billion people regularly access social media, some CEOs have “no social media presence” and many find social media “overwhelming,” “stressful,” and “difficult to manage,” according to several studies .
If you’re a small business owner who finds social media overwhelming and hard to manage, then keep reading—you can reduce the stress of social media today. Create a social media calendar and start scheduling your posts using one of several popular tools. Below, I discuss three easy steps.
Social media is a cost-effective way to engage customers, advertise services, and market products. It’s especially effective in reaching diverse, massive audiences quickly,
1. CHOOSE YOUR SOCIAL PLATFORM(S)
Most small business owners are old enough to remember MySpace and Friendster, two social media platforms that are “virtual antiques,” largely unknown to Generation Z. Believe it or not, MySpace once rivaled Facebook as the largest social networking site in the world. Now it ranks 4,153 by total web traffic (and yes, it still exists!). Point is, platforms come and go, grow and change. Among the most popular today are Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and LinkedIn.
Find out which platform is preferred by your audience(s) or attracts your consumer market, then focus on that platform as part of your regular regimen. For example, Facebook claims over 2.6 billion monthly active users (MAUs), according to Zephoria Digital Marketing, and the most common age group (29.7%) is 25 to 34 years old. In contrast, LinkedIn boasts 310 million MAUs, 57% of users are men, and 61% fall between the ages of 30 to 64. If you’re trying to reach Millennials, Gen Z, or “wired seniors” (users over 60), then Facebook is a wise choice. If you’re targeting college-educated workers, middle-class employees, or business-to-business (B2B), Twitter or LinkedIn make better sense. (Fun Fact: 41% of millionaires use LinkedIn!)
Whatever your industry or product(s), pick the platform that best connects you with your market and invest your time wisely there. You don’t have to be on all of them, but choose to be on at least one of them.
2. BUILD A CALENDAR
Once you pick a platform(s), build a social media calendar to help schedule your posts. To get started, you can do this using a blank sheet of paper or print calendar. Ultimately, I suggest digitizing the calendar using a Google doc, Excel sheet, or online tool like Smartsheet or Loomly.
Start by picking the day(s) and time(s) you want to post each week. How often do you want to post? Unless your industry requires frequent daily posts, I suggest two or three times per week. For example, you might start by choosing “MWF” (Monday, Wednesday, Friday) or, alternatively, “TTh” (Tuesday, Thursday) if your business or industry doesn’t require high-contact, frequent messaging. No matter what you choose, the goal is to stick to it for the entire month.
Now fill in the calendar with content (i.e., posts, images, videos, links) according to the schedule you chose. The easiest way to do this is to create “content themes” for each day in your weekly posting schedule. Consider this example based on an “MWF” plan (with popular hashtags):
- Monday: Something motivational with link to product/service include #MondayMotivation
- Wednesday: Something wise or famous quote with link to website or blog include #WednesdayWisdom or #HumpDay
- Friday: A photo with link to something personal about CEO, staff member, or company include #FridayFunday or #FridayFeelings
Once you settle on a “content theme” for each day in your weekly schedule (MWF or TTh), repeat it for all four weeks in the month. Find fresh content online, create new material, and don’t be afraid to market your brand, push your products, or repurpose old posts—repetition can be effective! Save all your images and links to make a content library for your assets. A simple folder in Dropbox will suffice.
As an alternative to weekly “content themes,” you could create “week-long content campaigns” where you’re posting a series on a single topic (e.g., managing finances, starting an LLC) for one week straight, followed by a new topic. Problem is that can be very limiting and severely impact your click rates, web traffic, and “opt-ins” if people don’t find your week-long campaign interesting, relevant, or useful. The choice is yours.
Once you have a plan mapped out according to your weekly content themes or week-long campaigns, you can digitize it using Loomly, Smartsheet, or a simple Google doc.
It’s very simple to tag our clients across multiple social media sites in a single dashboard through Zoho Social and we can schedule posts and reposts all at once.Anton Smith, Director of Outreach & Engagement, Do Good Work Consulting Group
3. PICK A SCHEDULING TOOL
Now that you’ve set a schedule and created a social media calendar, pick an online tool to schedule your posts. There are a number of popular options available: HootSuite, Zoho Social, Later, and Sproutsocial, to name a few. As a college professor, I’ve used HootSuite with previous research teams and university centers. They offer a 30-day free trial and 50% discount for nonprofit organizations. At Do Good Work, our communications staff members use Loomly and Zoho Social; they often praise the “user-friendliness” of each platform. “It’s very simple to tag our clients across multiple social media sites in a single dashboard through Zoho Social and we can schedule posts and reposts all at once,” shared Anton Smith, Director of Outreach & Engagement.
Pick the tool that best suits your level of comfort with technology. Schedule your posts for the month, aiming for optimal exposure. When you’re done, get ready to watch magic happen as your posts appear on the designated day/time with no additional work from you.
Mid-month you should schedule time to repeat these steps to automate posts for the next 30 days and so on. Not only will this keep you ahead of the game, but it will also save you 312 hours that can be (re)directed to other important tasks like visioning, fundraising, innovating, and having fun while running a winning business.
Terrell Strayhorn does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any social media company or tech organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliation beyond those in his author’s statement.