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Admin and Organization

Scheduling Tools to Stay On Top of Social Media

I refer to scheduling as my social media secret weapon. It’s one of my favorite tools (along with content calendars) for keeping myself organized, planning ahead, and posting on schedule. In this post, I’m going to give you a run-down of my favorite scheduling tools for pre-planning your social media.

General Scheduling

These are all-in-one social media tools that let you schedule posts for multiple networks (and manage your feeds) from a single dashboard.

Hootsuite

Hootsuite is my absolute favorite scheduling tool. You can manage Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and Instagram all in one place. You can schedule posts in advance and have them post automatically, and they also have an AutoSchedule feature that lets you set how many times you want to post per day and automatically spaces them out (I love that feature for scheduling Twitter). It is pretty expensive, but its free plan allows up to 3 accounts and 30 scheduled messages at one time.

Buffer

Buffer is similar to Hootsuite in that it’s an all-in-one scheduling tool. I haven’t personally used it, but I’ve heard good reviews from others who have. Their free plan lets you manage Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and Instagram, but it only lets you have 10 posts per network per month. Their paid plans allow unlimited posts and also let you schedule Pinterest posts.

Network-Specific Scheduling

If you don’t need or want an all-in-one scheduling tool, most networks have some variety of tool that lets you schedule posts for just that network. Here are some of them.

Facebook

Facebook pages have their own native scheduling option. Write your post, then click the arrow next to the “Publish” button. You’ll get a menu that has a schedule option on it so you can set a date and time in the future for the post to publish.

Twitter

Twitter does not have a scheduling feature that you can get to from twitter.com, but they did buy TweetDeck, a free scheduling tool similar to Hootsuite that lets you track hashtags, manage your feed, and like and retweet directly from your TweetDeck dashboard – and, of course, it also lets you schedule tweets.

Pinterest

Unfortunately, there are no free options for Pinterest scheduling. However, ViralWoot has excellent Pinterest scheduling features that I have personally used and appreciated. I’ve also heard good things about TailWind, another paid program that will let you schedule Pinterest posts.

Instagram

I’ve always scheduled Instagram through HootSuite, but I have heard good things about Later, which will let you schedule only Instagram posts.

Are you ready?

If you’re not already scheduling your posts, it’s time to start! There’s no reason not to. It virtually eliminates the chances of you forgetting to post (because your posts will post automatically) so you’ll post more consistently, it will take you less time to post (because you’ll only have to log into one place and schedule a bunch of things at once), and it just generally makes your life easier. If you have any sort of social-media related goal for this year, experiment with a scheduling tool!

 

 

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Admin and Organization

Creating a Content Calendar

I love to plan ahead – sometimes up to a year in advance for something as simple as a week-long vacation. Sometimes that doesn’t work out so well (like when the hotel can’t schedule that far ahead), but sometimes it has immense value and makes everything much easier.

This is one of those times. Last week, I wrote a post about setting social media goals. Today, let’s talk about one of my favorite tools to use to accomplish those goals: content calendars.

What is a content calendar?

A content calendar is exactly what it sounds like: a calendar that lays out what you’re going to post (including all your social media and blogs) and when you’re going to post it. I make mine as an Excel spreadsheet because I think that’s the most efficient way, but you can use whatever you prefer – Word, Evernote, or even calendar reminders all work.

Why use a content calendar?

There are a lot of good reasons to plan ahead with a content calendar. It keeps you accountable to yourself to post consistently (and if you have a boss you report to, makes you look responsible and organized). It makes it easier for you to remember when you’re supposed to post. It eliminates the eternal question of “I’m supposed to post today, but what do I post?” And it enables you to prepare ahead and avoid stress the day of – for example, I make all my Instagram images for the week on Sunday, so when it comes time to post all I have to do is post it.

How to create a content calendar

There are three important parts to a content calendar: dates, networks, and content.

Dates is obvious – you need to know what days you’re going to post on. I post every Monday and Thursday on social media and every Thursday on my blog.

You also need to record what networks you’re posting on. Mine is pretty simple, because I only post on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and here on my blog. If you do a lot of networks, you’re going to have a much bigger calendar than mine.

Finally, content. Content is assigned to both a network and a date. This is why I like to use a chart for this – it makes it easy to put content at the intersection of date and network. That way I can quickly look and find everything I’m posting on Instagram this or find everything I’m posting everywhere next Thursday – which makes prepping ahead of time a lot easier.

Click here to download my .xls content calendar template that you can use and adapt for your own use.

A final note …

A content calendar is a dynamic document. For example, on Monday I posted on social media about Logan Paul, a current events post that I couldn’t have predicted even two months ago. Some content is evergreen (such as my upcoming post on scheduling tools), but some of it is going to relate to current events, and you can’t plan that. And it’s possible that your analytics will show you it would be better to post on different days, or that images get a better response with your audience even though you have a month of videos planned. It’s important to remember that your calendar is not set in stone. Change it as needed to stay relevant.

Admin and Organization

How to Set Social Media Goals

This is the time of year when everybody’s thinking about goal-setting, whether it’s personal New Year’s Resolutions or business goals for the new calendar year. But have you set goals for your social media?

Even in business, setting social media goals often gets forgotten. But having specific goals for your social media is important. Why? Keep reading.

Why should you have goals?

Goals drive you to accomplish things. Goals motivate you and also help you see the overarching vision. They also give you a very rewarding sense of completion and pride when you accomplish them. Basically, setting a goal is doing something with intention – instead of just letting whatever happens happen (which usually means not a lot is going to happen), you’re taking charge, getting out there, and making good things happen.

How do you set social media goals?

You can set social media goals just like any other kind of business goal.┬áI’m sure you’ve heard of the SMART goal-setting model – goals should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Results-based, and Time-bound. A good social media goal will follow a similar model. “Grow my social media” is not a good goal; “Double my Instagram followers by 2019” is a good goal.

If you’re not familiar with goal-setting strategies or just want some extra advice, I recommend this article.

What goals should you set?

If you’re new on the social media scene, haven’t seen a lot of growth yet, or just aren’t sure what you should do, here are some suggestions. Pick two or three – don’t try to go after everything, you’ll overwhelm yourself and accomplish nothing.

  • Follower increase by X amount (e.g. “Increase likes on my Facebook page by 50%”)
  • Engagement rate increase (e.g. “Double my average number of engagements on Twitter per week”)
  • Posting goals (e.g. “Post on Instagram every Tuesday,” “Post every new blog post on Facebook”)
  • Conversion increase (e.g. “Get 15 clients from social media,” “Covert 4 social media followers to email subscribers per month”)
  • Increase your engagement (e.g. “Get involved in two relevant conversations on Google+ per month”)
  • Educate yourself (e.g. “Read one article about X social media topic per week”) and apply that knowledge (e.g. “Implement one new social media tool or strategy per month”)

A final tip …

Write them down! A goal in your head is easily ignored or forgotten. A goal on paper (or in your phone or on your computer) is a lot more powerful. Put it somewhere you can see it or intentionally take time to review it every week, and you will be much more likely to accomplish it.

A word cloud using words related to "social media" and "marketing"
News and Trends

What to Focus On in 2018

Due to the Christmas holiday, this is going to be my last blog post until January. So I thought it fitting that I wrap up my series of posts on 2018 predictions and trends with some suggestions for 2018. Here’s what I think social media marketing will need to start doing or focus more on in the coming year.

Video dominates

Video has been a big thing for a while, but in 2017, 90% of all shared content on social media was video. If you aren’t already using video in your social marketing strategy, now is the time to start working on it. If you add nothing else to your social media strategy in 2018, add video.

Paid social

Due to algorithm changes, organic reach is declining across all networks. And with so many brands on social media, it’s getting harder and harder to stand out without paid advertising. If you haven’t been budgeting much for promoting yourself on social media, it’s time to start – I know I’ll be increasing my social spending in 2018.

Influencer marketing

Influencer marketing – creating a partnership with someone who already has an existing audience in your field – can have great engagement rates and get your message out to more people. But so many brands want to get on board with influencer marketing that the influencers have to be very picky about who they promote. Building relationships with influencers is key. And with so many influencers out there, people are more likely to turn to true experts than simply people who are popular – this insight should help drive your influencer marketing strategy in 2018.

Ephemeral content

I’ve already done an entire post about the rise of ephemeral content, but this is definitely something you should add to your marketing mix in the coming year.

Chatbots

Chatbots have become more and more popular through 2017, and this is only expected to increase in 2018. Using a chatbot to manage direct messages your audience sends you through social media is a great opportunity. It enables instant responses even when you’re not near your phone, and a well set-up chatbot can deliver exactly what your customer is looking for quickly and easily. They also make it easy to gather information about your audience. Read this post if you want more in-depth information about chatbots.

Takeaway

There’s lots of exciting things that will be happening in social media marketing in 2018. The key to getting ahead is to look at the trends, sit down, and get strategic about which trends you’re going to capitalize on. You don’t have to jump on every bandwagon at once. Determine what strategies are going to be most valuable for you and your brand before you get started.

Image of a phone showing multiple social media icons; the Snapchat icon has a red number above it indicating an unread message or notification.
News and Trends

Ephemeral Content: The Trend to Watch in 2018

I had to name one 2017 trend that is going to explode in 2018, it would be ephemeral content.

Ephemeral content is content that disappears after a certain amount of time. Snapchat is build on the concept of ephemeral content – all pictures and videos posted on Snapchat are only available for 24 hours before disappearing permanently, and pictures and videos sent privately are only available to watch twice before disappearing.┬áInstagram and Facebook have both launched similar features with Instagram Stories and Messenger Day.

Why do people like ephemeral content?

After Snapchat’s smashing success as a social network, other networks (like Facebook and Instagram) have tried to capitalize on that content strategy. And Instagram has actually done well at it – Instagram stories now have more daily users than Shapchat stories! (source) And for good reason – people love it.

The main reason consumers like ephemeral content is that it triggers their FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out). If they don’t open Shapchat or Instagram to see the story within 24 hours, it’s gone and they will have missed it. It also creates a sense of excitement to be consuming content that is exclusively available now.

Why should marketers invest in ephemeral content?

At first glance, it may seem like a waste to invest time or money into content that’s only going to be available for 24 hours. But there are several reasons that it’s worth investing in:

  • Audiences are already operating on FOMO, making them more likely to act if you post a good deal or a strong call to action.
  • Temporary content can make a brand seem more trustworthy and genuine.
  • Ephemeral content has the highest engagement rates, especially among Millennials and Gen Z.

How do I capitalize on ephemeral content?

I will go more in-depth about how to maximize your presence on Snapchat, Instagram Stories, and Messenger Day in 2018. But for now, here are a few ephemeral content ideas to consider adding to your social strategy in 2018.

  • Go behind the scenes. Tour your office or workspace, interview an employee, give a look at the nuts and bolts of your operation.
  • Live post an event you’re hosting or attending.
  • Promote flash sales or limited-time offers.
Facebook, News and Trends

Where Is Facebook Heading? An End-of-Year Reflection

It’s the end of the year, which means it’s time to do some predicting of the direction of social media marketing and what will be successful in 2018. All of my December blog posts are going to be focused on trends and predictions for the coming year. Starting today with a social media giant: Facebook.

Facebook has been launching a lot of new features recently. Some of them are logical, and some of them seem random. Here’s a short list of their biggest feature rollouts in the last year:

  • Marketplace – a Craigslist-like way for you to list your used goods for sale and browse things for sale in your area
  • Messenger Day – a Snapchat clone through the Facebook Messenger app that allows you to post pictures and short videos that your friends can view for 24 hours before they disappear
  • Sending money – you are able to send money to your friends or request money from them via Facebook Messenger
  • Ordering food – a new feature rolled out in October that combines several food-ordering sites to let you order your dinner through Facebook and have it delivered to your door

Some of these things make sense – a feature like Messenger Day doesn’t seem out of place with a social network. Others – like ordering food – don’t seem to fit at all. So what exactly is Facebook trying to accomplish here?

It all starts with WeChat

WeChat is a Chinese messaging app that is used by 95% of Chinese people over age 16 (source). That is a staggeringly high usage rate! The main reason for this high percentage of people using it is its ability to do everything. Far from just being a messaging app, WeChat also lets you check your bank account, order food, call a cab, and chat with colleagues, all from a single app.

More relevant to Facebook’s interests, WeChat’s wide variety of uses provides more potential revenue streams for the company. Facebook now seems to be attempting to copy this lucrative business model.

Facebook ads

Put simply, Facebook is running out of space to display ads. They’ve already maxed out the amount they can put in the newsfeed (at least without driving users away). They’ve started introducing mid-video ads to longer videos, selling ads inside Messenger, and even letting advertisers on its new Marketplace feature. But they’ve pretty much reached advertising saturation, and in order to keep seeing revenue growth, they have to expand to new uses in order to create new ad platforms.

The takeaway

If you want to advertise on Facebook in 2018, don’t limit yourself to just boosted posts. Facebook has been and is going to offer a lot of other places to put ads, and becoming an early adopter of one of the new ad spaces could help you stand out.

Also, if you use video in your marketing, consider longer videos. Since Facebook is now putting ads in the middle of videos, they’re prioritizing longer content. Creating longer videos (around 2 minutes) will help turn the Facebook algorithm in your favor. Just make sure it’s interesting enough that people will want to keep watching after the ad!

 

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Instagram

A Quick Guide to Optimizing Your Instagram Profile

Getting your Instagram account right might not seem that hard – after all, you set up a lot of it when you signed up. But optimizing your Instagram profile actually takes some thought. It takes less than a second for people to form an impression of your account when they first encounter it, and you want that impression to be a good one.

Posting strategies are part of that, but that’s not what we’re going to talk about today. In this post, I’m going to go through four ways you can optimize your Instagram profile for maximum searchability and follower gain.

Get the right name

Obviously, you want your Instagram handle to be the same as your brand or company name. (For example, mine is @jalynelyconsulting.) But what happens if the handle you want is already taken? The best thing to do is add a small bit of extra information on the end (such as “inc,” “co,” or even “official”). Whatever you do, don’t add something to the beginning – you want your handle to start exactly the same way someone would type it into a search – that way Instagram’s auto search complete feature will suggest your account.

Besides your handle, you also have a name associated with your account. This displays prominently above all the other information in your profile. You have 30 characters to enter a name, which, again, should be the name of your brand or company. Sometimes you may have to shorten your name to fit within the character limit – I had to shorten “Social Media” to “SM,” for example.

Picture yourself

You want your Instagram profile photo to be representative of you. Usually your brand or company’s logo goes best here (as long as you make sure it’s optimized for Instagram’s circular display – you may have to shrink it or add white space around it to avoid getting corners cut off). If your brand is more a personal brand or a one-person operation, though, you may opt to use a professional picture of yourself. I emphasize the personal, one-on-one nature of my consulting, so I have a picture of me as my profile picture instead of a logo.

Optimize your bio

I could write a whole post on this. (I probably will later.) But for the basics: Instagram gives you 150 characters for a short bio, and you want to use this to tell potential followers a little bit about you and why they should follow you. This can be a short statement (such as “I help those new to social media marketing get the most out of it”) or a list of things you will post about (such as “social media advice | tips and tricks | social media strategy | growing your social impact”). You can also include your contact email or a brand hashtag (if you have one).

Putting keywords in your bio isn’t going to help your searchability at all (Instagram only considers your name and handle for searches), but a few well-placed keywords can tell your potential customers

You get one link

The only clickable link you get in Instagram is in your bio. In general, you want to link this directly to where you want people to go, whether that’s your website homepage, your blog, or your shopping site. You can also change it frequently to feature new products or your most recent blog post. Since Instagram doesn’t allow links in posts, some people use the “link in bio” idea – write your post, put “Link in bio!” at the end, and then update your bio link to whatever it is you want to link to. Personally, I like to use bit.ly to shorten links so they don’t get cut off.