Social media is an ever-changing, headache-inducing beast. How many posts are too many? Should you go snarky or sincere? Is it advertorial, brand building, or both? It can feel impossible to keep up with the trends while consistently delivering quality content that your audience actually wants to see.
Avoid burnout by focusing your efforts. Narrow your focus regarding platforms, examine the purpose of your content, and use the tools available to you. As you refine your approach, your time and energy will thank you, and you’ll get to watch your business flourish with your renewed efforts.
Stop Overextending Yourself
First off, stop stressing over trying to keep up with everything. Depending on who you ask, the number of social media sites range in number from 8 to infinity. News flash: you physically cannot keep up with that (especially if you lean towards the infinity end of the spectrum).
Instead of trying to have a presence on every single site and compromising quality in the process, pick three. Examine your business and decide what makes the most sense for showcasing yourself, as well as where your target audience is most active. Instagram is a really solid choice for visually driven businesses, while Facebook is basically required for anyone who does events.
If you know the reasons for using social media platforms, it’ll be easier to narrow your focus. Based on information gathered by the University of Alabama Birmingham, entrepreneurs were most likely to use Facebook or LinkedIn for information dissemination and gathering. However, if you’re naturally inclined to function better on another platform, go with what you’re good at — at least while you’re mastering your other options.
Understand Your Purpose
Don’t worry, it’s not as existentially daunting as it may sound. Understanding your purpose in the realm of social media is a fairly simple prospect: what is it, exactly, that you want your social media profile to do for you? You must consider what results you want to see. Are you looking for brand exposure, community creation, or customer leads? Why is social media the venue you’re choosing to pursue that objective?
Sit with those questions, and do it more than once. Ask yourself why until it becomes annoying, and then once you’ve got your why, start figuring out how. It does no good to try and create a perfect social media campaign if you don’t know what you want out of the campaign. Your intentions must be crystal clear — this also makes it much easier to gauge relative success.
Social media is inherently people-based, and therefore subjective, which can make it difficult to track. Businesses may find success by focusing on interacting with consumers and creating unique content, but at the end of the day, how do you know what’s working best? As long as you don’t become a content-generation robot only informed by numbers, analytic reports are effective in curating a media strategy designed for engagement.
Measurable outcomes are a great tool for understanding where outreach can be improved. Facebook and Google offer some free feedback, but you can be limited by the information you’re given. Utilize outside analytic programs to see a more complete picture of your social media reach, or if you’re a DIY-er, design comparison-based tests across platforms in the style of A/B testing.
You can also monitor post-engagement from a subjective point of view, but make sure to keep notes tying your observations to specific posts. Whatever you choose, make sure you can link actions to numbers to generate actionable information.
Know Your Audience
Most people who have a brand understand who their audience is, but knowing your target demographic and knowing how your target demographic interacts with social media are two different things. Analytics will give you an idea of what posts work well with your audience, but you need a little intuition as well.
What do your audience members come to your brand for? How else can you fill that need? Can you provide online communities or create informational posts that supplement knowledge they already have? Lifestyle content puts the focus on your consumers rather than on your brand and creates a deeper relationship between their wants and your product or service. It’s the human-centric complement to analytics.
When you understand what your audience is looking for, you gain the ability to create content ahead of schedule, rather than reacting daily (or panicking when you realize you haven’t posted in three days). You can anticipate holiday posts, create a weekly series that builds on itself, or draft answers to commonly asked questions. If you hit your stride, don’t stop when you’re done with the day’s work; just keep going!
Having posts prepped gives you, as an entrepreneur, a few gifts. One, you’ve now freed up whatever time and energy you use mustering inspiration and creating content daily. Two, if something unexpected shows up, you’ve got an “emergency fund” of posts that you can draw on. Keep one or two in the reservoir for when things don’t go as planned. Finally, you can maybe actually take a day or two away from your phone. Take a deep breath, set your content to auto-post if possible or hire a company to help you with SEO consulting services and unplug. Enjoy a little time away from the social media grind.
Ultimately, social media is social, and you can’t take the human out of it. Take a philosophical magnifying glass to your social media and find out why you’re doing what you’re doing, then optimize that intention for human interaction. Use analytics to back up what you intuitively see and suspect. At the end of the day though, you’re only human — do your best, and cut yourself some slack. When you’re happier, your content is more authentic, and your audience will pick up on that.
Brooke Faulkner is an avid reader, writer, and opinion-sharer about all things social media. When she’s not writing, let’s be honest, she’s scrolling. To read more of her work, follow her @faulknercreek.