After the election last year, social media felt like the worst. The signal to noise ratio was deafening. Opinions (including my own) were everywhere.
With the proliferation of fake news, constant outrage, and politics on all sides -- literally every where you looked -- there seemed to be a barrage of senseless and at times seemingly hopeless noise. Spending time online turned into a draining and distracting experience (way more than normal, ugh) for many businesses towards the end of 2016. Making it increasingly harder to focus on what we needed to do as creative businesses.
I heard from many creative professionals and clients that they were struggling, that they were worried, that posting to social media and marketing was the last thing that they wanted to do. That they couldn't bring themselves to move forward in what felt like such a toxic environment.
With a new year upon us, and considering social media isn't going anywhere, I wanted to share with you some actions I'm telling clients to put into place. Things that you can do to immediately to stay focused, get your inspiration back, and continue to build your business moving into 2017. Social media is a great tool for small businesses - even if it seems to be evolving rapidly (some might argue devolving) in a way that feels like a juggernaut. I have hope for the community and opportunity it continues to bring.
Some of the things I mention below, may feel counterintuitive. But I do all of these things, and find great success on social media. I also share a lot of this stuff with my clients who have also found a steady balance between cultivating an online presence and building successful online businesses by putting a lot of this in place. Social media is a tool for your business, it is very different from personal social media, and should be handled as so.
Keep an open mind as you read below, ask me any questions in my Facebook Group, and remember you don't need to implement every single one of these suggestions. Just try a few to give yourself a breather and get some space from all of the noise.
Turn Off All Notifications
This sounds like a scary thing, but I promise you when you're done working social media and all of your alerts will still be there. Something I like to talk about a lot (because I've learned it personally by burning myself way out) is energy. Your energy is finite and you can only do so much in a day. Constantly checking notifications which then bring you back to your social networks burns out your energy. Sure they're little trips here and there, but they add up and they distract you from the most important thing you should be working on: your business.
Remove or Move Distracting Apps Like Facebook
You simply do not need direct access to social media all day every day. Remove apps that disrupt your day to the point of time wasting. What does this mean? If you are checking Facebook 27 times a day while you are working on your business - REMOVE IT. If you really need it, put it on the second page of your phone, this was suggested to me by Spencer Fry, founder of Coach and I think it's so simple yet so brilliant. Out of site, out of mind. Plan your day to check in on social media two or three times a day for your business. Anymore, and you are wasting time, spinning your wheels, and burning up energy. Unless you are using social media for a special like a sale, or get enormous amounts of contact from customers online, you really do not need to check social media repeatedly througout the day.
You Don't Need to Share Content All Day Every Day
If you are here reading this, most likely you are an artist, maker, or small shop owner. Running the show takes A LOT of work. You don't have a ton of bandwidth to dedicate to social media and content creation. It's a reality. Contrary to what most marketers will tell you, you don't need to be posting all day every day. That is simply not sustainable. However, you can create a schedule where you are posting on your social media platforms enough to get your message across, build your following, and increase engagement.
Each business is different, so I can't say across the board how much to post day to day on each platform not knowing your engagement rate, following numbers, and your business (if you're interested in getting feedback on this, join my Facebook Group). This is something you need to figure out through your own schedule and following numbers and the content you are able to create. A good rule of thumb is you should be posting at least a few times a week to Facebook (3-7 posts), 1 to 2 posts daily or every other day to Instagram, 5 to 7 times a day to Twitter, and 10-20 pins a day/every other day on Pinterest.
Pick 2-3 Platforms and Focus Deeply
You simply do not need to be on every single social media site. Unless you have a staff that can help you, spreading yourself thin across many channels is not optimal at all. Choose two or three platforms to focus on, and do them really well. Concentrate on building engagement and sharing the best content to represent your business. Work on creating a vertical you own like a newsletter so you have a list to rely on, and not social media algorithms.
Schedule Your Social Media
Taking care of your business means being professional about your responsibilities. One of these things is setting aside time to concentrate on your messaging online. Posting content day to day is a complete waste of time. It saps your energy, and it leaves your content strategy weak and scattered. Not to mention you risk the chance of just not posting at all due.
Define why you are on each platform and be diligent and measured about the content you share there. Create an editorial calendar of dates and important events, save content to share and read later, use scheduling tools that will make this easier, and physically plan out your content with a social media content calendar.
Set a Timer When You Work
One of the best things I have done in my business is use a timer to work, and when I'm done I use that time to check in on social media. I like to recommend the Pomodoro technique - you set a timer for a period of time for 25 minutes (I personally like to set mine for 45) and then take a 5 minute break when the timer is up. I use some of this time to check in on social media, or make tea, or just get up and stretch. Timing yourself is a great way to really begin to understand how much each taks takes, and it allows you to focus deeply on the work at hand, because you know you have a break coming up.
Cull, Cull, Cull
There is so much noise online. It's an auditory mine field - you go online and you can literally lose hours of your life to nonsense and noise. Which means you lose precious time you could be dedicating to your business. Take care of yourself online, unfollow or hide people that are seemingly always raging, or posting distracting content, or things that take you out of the moment repeatedly. You don't need to follow everyone back.
Journalist Ann Friedman says "garbage in, garbage out." To paraphrase, surround yourself with people and things that inspire and make you think, otherwise you'll be contributing the same: garbage. Creativity and inspiration need to be cultivated and nurtured. If your social media feeds are filled with noise, this will affect you and your output.
You're in Control, Social Media Isn’t
It should also go without saying, but this stuff doesn't happen overnight. Social media is designed to keep us engaged and constantly checking in. It's a product and they want you to use it all of the time. But you also have a product. Keep that in mind the next time you go to check social media. With the above tips and tricks, you'll be able to limit your use of social media, and still get the most out of it. I promise.
It’s really easy to feel overwhelmed and out of control after spending time online for hours on end. Believe me I know, I have been there and I work with people everyday to help them get out of the cycle. But understand that you owe it to your business to use social media as a tool and use it in a way that helps you, not hinders your creativity. Inspiration and determination need to be cultivated and encouraged. Use the above suggestions to help you get back on track and stay focused moving forward. Social media will be there when you are done with work, don’t let it take over your business.