How to get the most out of social media

How to get the most out of social media

With so many people on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, there’s a lot of buzz about the benefits of using these channels to attract customers.

But of course, there are only so many productive hours in a day, so we all have to make choices about where to direct our attention. We can’t (and shouldn’t try to) do it all.

So here’s the big question for home business owners: how do you make the most of social media?

This article will give you some great tips for maximising the benefits that you get from social media, whilst also minimising the amount of time you have to spend on it.

Spend your time on the things that matter

It’s not rocket science to suggest that the best use of your time is to direct your efforts to the activities that generate the greatest benefits for your home business.

Social media certainly promises a lot. But, for many home businesses it often delivers very little in return for the time invested.

Many small business operators have found that time spent posting regularly on Facebook or other social media, actually has a limited impact on meaningful business metrics. Metrics such as the level of visitor traffic sent to your website, or a big one – the number of paying customers as a result.

If you’re spending three hours a day on social media platforms, but you’re barely moving the needle on business metrics like the examples above – it’s probably time to refocus your attention.

If social media is driving good results, but taking up way too much of your time, here’s a few strategies that could help:

  1. Get someone on board to help with your social media activities. For example, you could start by hiring a freelancer.
  2. Use tools or services to automate some of your social media activities, such as a WordPress plugin to auto-share your content across a number of social media platforms.
  3. Focus on the social media platforms that deliver the best results. The old ‘80/20 rule‘. We’ll discuss this more later in the article.

Promote your brand – not someone else’s

Social media platforms can change their policies at any time, or they could even shut down entirely. Google+ (Google Plus) and Myspace are perfect examples of social media platforms that have undergone many significant changes.

If you invest a lot of time publishing content on social media platforms, you’re not only promoting your brand – you’re also promoting theirs. Your content is adding value to their platform.

Unfortunately, there’s no guarantee that you’ll always be able to reap the benefits from the value that you’ve created on their platform. The social media company could change direction, alter their policies or close up shop.

There’s also a risk that your intended audience won’t actually see your awesome content. With a big push at the moment to roll out advertising on social media platforms, promoted material could take precedence over your content.

Your content may also be locked out to visitors that are not members of the platform. Or visitors might be repeatedly hassled to ‘sign up or log in’ with annoying pop ups (I’m looking at you Facebook!) – this can send many people away from your content.

It’s not all bad (I promise!)

Social media can be amazing for connecting with existing customers, reaching new ones, and growing your brand.

If you’re strategic with your social media efforts, you can actually spend very little of your own time on social media platforms and still get the benefits from them.

Read on to find out how.

Getting the most out of social media

Here are four strategies that can help you to maximise the benefits of social media.

These strategies are about working smarter, not harder.

1 – Go where your audience is

Firstly, to get the most out of social media, you need to go where your audience is.

Each platform is different. For example, ‘visual-heavy’ platforms like Instagram or Pinterest would be terrific for a food blogger. Not so useful for a copywriter.

LinkedIn is great if you’re a consultant offering professional services. Not so helpful though for a market gardener selling organic produce.

So find out where your target market is, because that’s the platform(s) you should be focussing on.

As a home business owner (or someone that’s aspiring to be), you’re unlikely to have time to manage activities across seven different social media platforms. Or you’ll drive yourself crazy trying! So my advice is just focus on one or maybe two platforms at the most.

Of course you could also add very little content (or indeed none at all) on any social media platforms. The second and third strategies touch on this.

2 – Make it easy to share your content

The most effective way to distribute your content on social media, is to have other people do it for you.

It’s a really simple formula.

It starts with creating fantastic content that offers value to your audience. For example, publishing an in-depth ‘how to’ article on your website.

By publishing content that offers real value to your target audience, you’re presenting material that’s ‘shareable’.

So make sure there are ways for visitors to easily to share your content. This can simply be a matter of including social media sharing buttons. We use Easy Social Share Buttons for WordPress on HomeBusiness.com.au. You can also post an excerpt and link on some social media platforms to get the ball rolling (or use an automated tool for this).

If visitors love your content, they’ll share it across social media platforms for you. This leverages the network effect of social media, achieving far greater reach than you could likely achieve on your own.

3 – Own your content

Publishing content on your own website means that you’re building value in your own brand, not a social media company’s brand.

This isn’t always practical of course. For example, if you make a living from YouTube videos (and many people do), then the YouTube platform itself is clearly pivotal to your revenue.

By building value in your own business, you’re creating an asset. If you decide to move on to new ventures in the future, you could potentially sell this asset.

Ideally, you should be making use of social media platforms for sharing your content, not for publishing your content.

For example, you could post a brief excerpt of your latest article on Facebook, with a link to the article on your website. Including an image will help your post stand out.

4 – Advertise

You might have amazing products or terrific content on your website, but if no one knows about it – generating revenue is going to be hard.

Advertising gives you visibility.

With billions of users worldwide, social media platforms represent a massive audience for advertising to.

Social media platforms like Facebook allow you to choose who your ad is shown to, through what’s known as ‘demographic targeting’.

For example, Facebook allows you to target your audience by age, gender, location and interests. This means that your message is more likely to reach your target market.

You don’t need to have a big budget for advertising either. You can set a maximum budget for your Facebook ad, such as $2 per day. You can also set a duration for your ad, such as 14 days.

Key messages to take away

  • Create content that offers value to your audience, on your own website whenever practical, and make it super easy for people to share your content via social media.
  • Focus your social media efforts on the platform(s) that your audience actually uses.
  • Consider advertising on social media platforms to reach your target market.
  • Don’t spend time on social media activities that aren’t adding value to your business!

What do you think?

It would be great to hear your thoughts about social media.

Does social media play an important role for your business?

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