Social media marketing is no longer a new practice, and it’s become far more than just a bonus digital marketing channel to supplement search engine optimization, pay-per-click advertising, email campaigns, content marketing, etc. Most clients benefit greatly from engaging with customers on social media and there are tons of tips available about how to optimize your clients’ existing presence on social media. But time after time when talking with clients or other agencies, we’ve heard a common refrain: It’s simply not manageable to run an effective social media program with limited resources.
The days of turning social media responsibilities over to an intern or entry-level employee are thankfully long-gone, but unless you have one or more dedicated social media pros to manage your clients’ social presence, it may be tough to turn a strategy into a routine. Or worse, you may develop a great presence for a month or two while your resources are properly allocated to social media, only to be completely overwhelmed when your agency acquires new business and additional projects, or experiences turnover.
Before you can optimize your social media presence, you have to establish a consistent, manageable routine. In this post, we’re sharing seven tips that we use to ensure that social media management can remain manageable for the long term.
1. Limit Your Posts to Relevant Platforms
The sheer number of active social media platforms available is overwhelming. When developing a social media strategy, which platforms should you dedicate your time to? A common answer is “be where your client’s customers are” but that’s not always manageable. Customers can be everywhere, but unless your agency has unlimited resources and your clients have unlimited budgets (doubtful!), you can’t be everywhere too. We recommend conducting a social media audit to determine where your client’s customers spend the most time on social media and then limiting your posts to a minimal number of the most relevant platforms.
After you decide which social networks your agency will manage on behalf of your client, the goal is to be able to dedicate sufficient resources to adequately maintain that presence for the duration of the engagement, rather than spreading your agency too thin by being on too many networks. This may mean managing Instagram only (if that’s where your audit determines most customers are) and deprioritizing other networks for now. When you’re in a more efficient routine or have increased resources, you can then broaden your client’s footprint into additional relevant social media networks. You can also design content that will work well for multiple platforms such as pushing the same post out to Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn, if relevant to all three audiences.
2. Establish a Feasible Posting Schedule
The optimal number of posts per day or week for a business may not be manageable with your current resources. Thankfully, consistency is more important than volume, so while developing a social media program that’s manageable for the long-term, put your attention into developing a realistic and feasible posting schedule that can be maintained in perpetuity.
This isn’t just about determining how much time you have to spend on developing content for social media, but also what level of involvement other parties will have before you can post (consider the time impact of repeated follow-up and revision cycles), as well as what type of content you’ll have available to post. Not every client is the same, so one-size-fits-all social media posting schedule recommendations can lead to unmanageable expectations.
3. Choose Messaging Themes and Stick with Them
Determine what type of messaging your client’s customers want to see pop up in their feeds. Yes, you’re trying to sell products and services, but if all customers see is a sales pitch, they’re going to tune out. Make a list of other relevant information and messages a customer would want to see, group the ideas into content themes, and use it as a guide for what to post. Some examples could be a product and service promotion/announcement or reminder or a service offered, company information/milestones, employee-specific posts (posts with actual people tend to draw more engagement), holiday posts (but be careful what you are celebrating and ensure you are sending the right message), contests/giveaways to promote engagement, testimonials, and even humor if that’s on-brand for your client.
4. Build a Content Calendar
Almost every guide to social media that you’ll see will tell you to build a content calendar, and for good reason: They’re critical to social media success. They help you visualize your plans on what you’re going to post about, and when. Content calendars force you to think in advance about your plan, and once your plan is set, it’s far easier to execute. When planning ahead, you can ensure that you’re choosing from a variety of message themes throughout the upcoming period, rather than clumping too many themes together or spreading them too far out. Content calendars can also help you better plan new product launches, store openings, promotions, and other timely events.
There are so many resources available on content calendars that we don’t need to go in-depth here. But we’ll reiterate that it’s virtually impossible to have a manageable social media program without a content calendar, so don’t think that skipping this will save time.
5. Create Consistent Design Templates to Reduce Design Time
For maximum engagement, all posts on social media should have a visual element accompanying them, whether an image or video. It’s not hard to post a photograph, but when you go a step further and add a logo, message, or other design elements, it’s easy to spend a lot of time and end up with a series of inconsistent looking images on your social media grid.
We recommend creating and utilizing a series of design templates to reduce the amount of time you spend working with designs. Creating a series of design templates also helps to ensure brand consistency.
6. Use Scheduling Tools to Post in Advance
It’s best to prepare a series of posts in batches and schedule them throughout the week or month, rather than designing an image, writing a caption, and posting it every day that you’ve planned for the message to go out. Even if you’ve prepared your content in advance, things can come up and make it difficult to post at the time you intended. It’s oftentimes more efficient to be heads-down and dedicate a day (or a week) to knocking out all the social media content for a client for the month rather than working on it a little bit every day and needing to keep switching gears. This is also where the Content Calendar comes in very handy.
There are a variety of social media schedulers available that relieve this burden for you. Whether you use Publer, Hootsuite, Sprout Social, or any other scheduling tool, you should be using a scheduler to save time.
Don’t forget about your posts after they’ve been scheduled, though. Many reasons may come up that could cause you to need to reschedule or delete your posts. You don’t want a client’s planned employee spotlight to be posted after that employee no longer works there because you forgot to remove a previously scheduled post. It’s also important to be sensitive to current events and pause your posts at times or pivot your messaging.
7. Develop Comment Response Templates
Social media is not about pushing your client’s message into the ether and turning your attention elsewhere. Effective social media management requires that you listen to and respond to customers, potential customers, and even detractors! Most of this will be done on the social media pages you manage, but if you search for your client’s brand or products you may find that people are talking elsewhere, and it may be appropriate to inject your client’s brand into the conversation with a response. There are many tools out there that can monitor when your client’s company name is mentioned as well and alert you.
You should respond to every message on your pages, within reason. Remember that you’re not just responding to the person who posted it, but everyone else who sees the message. Customers don’t expect perfection out of businesses, but they do want to see that feedback is taken seriously. In fact, a thoughtful response to a negative comment can have a positive impact on a business. By showing you are engaged, appreciate the time someone took to leave positive or warranted negative feedback, and care about improving, comment responses can convert more potential customers into long-term loyal customers.
But responses take time so if you have to think of a fresh response for every message, it will make social media management a more difficult task. You shouldn’t use a pre-formulated response for every message, but it can be helpful to develop a tone and phrases that work well for responses to a variety of types of messages. This also works well when multiple people are managing your client’s social media accounts so that you can be assured every response is on-brand.
Social media marketing is time-consuming and requires a strong strategy, dedication, planning, and a variety of tools to do it effectively. Following these tips should help make social media management a more feasible and profitable service offering for your agency.