We can rebuild him. We have the technology. We can make him better than he was. Better…stronger…faster.
— The Six Million Dollar Man (opening sequence)
When I started this article, the original title was along the lines of “More, Better, Faster.” But being a ’70s kid, every time I worked on this post the opening sequence for The Six Million Dollar Man played in my head. Unlike Steve Austin, though, you don’t need bionic implants to improve your online presence. I’ll share the strategies I use so that you can maximize the capabilities you already have.
I’m well aware that, for smaller businesses without staff to dedicate to blogging and social media marketing, establishing and maintaining a presence in these important marketing channels can feel like more of a burdensome obligation than the opportunity it really is.
It’s work, like most anything else we do as part of running a business. But done right, it can be less of a chore and offer more benefit than anything short of a six-figure ad agency campaign.
You don’t have to write blog posts every single day, and post to six different social media channels eight times daily. But to best market your business, you do need to blog, and you do need to pick one or two social media channels to focus on. That’s it. Pick the ones (or just one) where your customers live and ignore the rest.
Limiting focus concentrates effort. This narrowed focus, combined with the tools and tactics we’re about to get into, make building a quality blog and solid social media presence doable — even for a “team” of one.
Blog first, Facebook later.
Most of the smaller businesses I follow on Facebook have a tendency to post there and ignore their blogs. I hate to say it, but very few of the restaurants I follow blog at all. Maybe there’s a comfort level with Facebook since so many use it for personal networking. Maybe posting from their websites seems like a hassle because they have to log in. Or maybe they never got a blog set up at all.
Whatever the reason, not having a blog is like declining free advertising on a billboard at the major intersection closest to your business. You don’t have to double the time you spend to cover both blog and Facebook, either (you’ll see why further on in this post). You just need to start with the blog. On a high level this is because:
- Sharing on Facebook instead of your blog is somewhat of a dead end.
- You’re more likely to bring in customers with blog posts than paying for search engine optimization and skipping blogging.
- When you post to your blog, it will live there for as long as you like, be indexed by search engines, and come up in results when anyone searches terms it includes.
If I’m in Portsmouth and looking for an event I can enjoy with a motley crew of friends, I might search “mushrooms escargot beer Portsmouth NH.” Who comes up first? A brew pub who posted to their blog about their “Two Fungi” social.
Facebook is great for starting and keeping up dialogue with your audience, but it’s not indexed by search engines the way your blog would be.
Blog posts don’t have to be lengthy articles full of wordy or highbrow information. Many of the same things you post to Facebook could be blog posts. Images, for example. Links to articles on another site that your audience might find worthwhile. Anything that you think would be of interest to your audience and related to your subject matter, even loosely. But not cat memes.
Be your audience
What could you share that would be of value to them?
I tend to post on a lot of small business topics. In part, that’s because my audience is comprised largely of small business owners. But it’s also because being a small business owner myself, and married to a small business owner, along with my work for numerous small business owners, I get a feel for the types of things that would help my audience.
Providing your audience with something they value is really what blogging must be about, first and foremost. Otherwise you’ll lose their attention…if you had it at all to begin with.
I don’t offer POS systems, website security software, social media services or anything else not pretty closely related to websites. But I post on topics like this to hopefully provide helpful information to my audience – only one or two in a hundred of whom might actually be looking to work with me at any given moment.
In working closely with my clients I very often gain insight about what they struggle with in their businesses, and often it’s something I have a solution for. When appropriate, I’ll write a post about it so more people can benefit. If you think about it, you likely have similar insights you could share.
A good rule of thumb is to share 3 to 5 helpful posts for every promotional post. And that post promotional post should still be something that will help your audience.
Make it easy
Use an app to post from your smartphone or tablet.
It would probably be a bad idea to actually write a lengthy post on mobile and then publish it without proofing it on a larger screen, but it does work in a pinch. The best use for mobile apps is for short posts or to publish photos.
For example, if you host open mic nights at your coffeehouse, use your smartphone and tablet to snap photos during a performance, then post them immediately while the event is still going on. These “in the moment” posts lend personality and authenticity to your website – much more so than perfectly formulated and curated blog posts.
For restaurants, a great use of mobile posting is to share action shots from the kitchen, or “food porn” (swoon-worthy shots of plated food ready to be served). Both are great ways to encourage a visit.
Amplify your effort
Link your blog to your Facebook account so a single post does double duty.
While it’s great that blog posts aren’t buried in the walled garden of Facebook or drowned out in your audiences’ Twitter streams, you still have to share them to social media to draw maximum attention.
While you could post individually to each of the social media sites you use to reach your audience, it’s much easier to automatically share your content as soon as it’s published.
Squarespace and WordPress both offer the ability to link up your Facebook and Twitter accounts, as well as other social media channels you may use. When you connect your social media accounts to your blog, as soon as you click the publish button on a post it is shared on your blog as well as any accounts you’ve connected it to – without having to visit each social media site and post individually.
Think of this automatic sharing as just getting the ball rolling. It won’t replace the “social” in social media – but it can be the start of a conversation and it definitely saves a few steps.
Attract more eyeballs
Build shareable images with Canva plus a little creativity.
If you possess the least bit of creativity, Canva can help you create well-designed images to go along with any posts that you write. It can also help you take a camera phone photo of your daily special and turn it into a snappy ad that you can keep handy and repost whenever you run that special again.
Canva can also help you if you need to put together a Facebook cover image for your business page, create business letterhead, and several other types of designs. Canva’s free plan is adequate for many businesses, although their new Canva for Work offers some nice features.
Invest an hour
Commit to a regular weekly time to create (or find) and schedule content for social media sharing.
Unless you have an assistant that’s dedicated solely to maintaining your social media account, you really can’t single-handedly create the kind of social media presence that helps your website and business get the attention it needs to grow.
That’s where Pagemodo, HootSuite, Buffer and other social media management tools come in handy. Even free sharing tools, or the free level of paid tools, can usually provide some level of automation that can make your life a little bit easier. You’ll have to evaluate each one yourself to see how it will meet your particular needs, but know that some of the more full-featured tools can put much of your social media marketing on autopilot.
As I mentioned earlier, automation won’t cover everything you need to do with regard to social media. You still need to answer questions and respond to comments. But when the problem is reaching enough people to even get a question or comment, automation can be a tremendous help.
At any given time, only a very small percentage of your audience is likely to even see your post. If you have to rely solely on the times when you can actively post to social media yourself, one at a time, it’s unlikely you’ll have a robust enough presence to have an effect on your audience.
Set up a weekly one-hour time slot dedicated to finding content your audience would find helpful, and adding links to this content with a little of your own comments into your chosen social media tool. Be sure to include your best blog posts and photos in the mix. Load up as much as you can during that time, then call it good.
Depending upon which tool you’ve chosen, your posts will be distributed over the coming days. Sharing content in this way keeps you on the minds of your audience even when you are not posting at that particular time. Just make sure you’re receiving notifications so that you can provide a timely response when you get a question or comment on your post.
Just two to four blog posts per month can help a lot once you amplify them with social media sharing. There’s no need to write epic posts unless the topic merits one; people are likely to be just as interested in a photo with a quick mention of a new wine selection as they are in an in-depth write-up of why and how you source Belgian chocolate.
Make it personal. When you share a link to someone else’s content, tell your audience what you liked about it, or why they should read it. Goes without saying, but be sure to respond to every comment. Even if one is negative, it’s an opportunity you wouldn’t otherwise get to address it in the open. When it’s positive, repost!
Know that the percentage of posts actually seen by your audience is fairly small, so don’t feel bad about reposting your articles on different days and at different times so that you can broaden their reach. Change up the text you use to introduce the post so that your timeline doesn’t feel overly repetitious.
If you have questions, or if you have a strategy or tool that helps you post more, better and faster, please leave a comment below and share what’s been working for you.