Building a successful brand, whether you’re a blogger or a business owner, really comes down to one thing: consistency. You’ve heard me talk about consistency before in my blog posts and newsletters, but I’m going to keep saying it because that’s how important it is! You can’t build a thriving community or get brand recognition without consistently putting yourself out there. One of the best ways to show up consistently is through social media. (I hear your groans and feel your fight or flight kicking in already. Stick around! It's simpler than you think.)
THE STRUGGLE IS REAL
Showing up everyday on social media is tough for so many reasons. Here are some of the biggest struggles I’ve heard—and have faced myself—when it comes to posting consistently on social media:
- I don’t have time!
- I don’t have the energy.
- I don’t even know where to start.
- I don't know what to post.
- Just thinking about it stresses me out. So I avoid it.
- I need to be working, not sitting on twitter all day.
- Social media is a creativity crusher.
- Did I mention I don't have time!?
THE SOLUTION IS WORTH IT
Let me start by saying, I hear you! I’ve been there. Heck, I was there up until three months ago when I finally shaped up my social media act. Since then, some pretty amazing things have happened:
- My twitter following has been growing by 100+ followers every month. And I’m talking engaged followers, not just silent numbers.
- My Instagram following has been steadily increasing. If you're a numbers person, the stats show I gained 62 new followers in the past week. Again, I have some amazing followers here who are joining in the conversation and commenting.
- I gained nearly 40 followers on Pinterest within two weeks and was invited to two group boards without even having to ask! Also, my average monthly views have gone up by 79% and my monthly average engagement has gone up by 75% within the last two weeks.
Why am I telling you all of this? To prove that showing up consistently on social media will increase your following, add engaged members to your community, and spread your brand presence like wild fire!
How am I using social media and stress-free in the same sentence? I combined a bunch of resources with a lot of trial and error and found out what works best for me. There are a million and one articles (maybe more, who knows!?) out there telling you how to create an effective social media strategy, how to be found on social media, how to get X amount of followers in X amount of days.
I just want to show you the simple, stress-free social media strategy I’ve been using for the past few months to consistently grow my brand. My hope is that you can take the plan I've created, apply it to your own social media strategy, and finally stop stressing about social media!
LET'S BREAK IT DOWN NOW.
For starters, I break it down into monthly and weekly tasks. I spend an hour at the end of each month (or the first day of the month if I’m slacking) to put a game plan together. Then I spend two to three hours every Monday morning prepping my social media for the week.
AT THE BEGINNING OF EACH MONTH:
Step 1 - Print off a blank calendar for the month or find one you can edit right on your computer. I personally like to write mine out pencil + paper style so I can scribble and doodle ideas. Here's a minimal, hand lettered calendar created by Alexa Zurcher:
Step 2 - Determine a theme for each week of the month that fits within your niche. So for me, it will always come back to branding. I post blog articles bi-weekly right now, so I also make sure the theme fits with my blog post topic.
For example: I knew I wanted to create this post about enhancing your brand by being consistent on social media. So every article I’ve shared this week in some way, shape, or form has to do with social media.
Step 3 - Start brainstorming ideas to post within your chosen theme for each week. Think back to conversations you've had with fellow bloggers and business owners, advice you've heard in podcasts, and helpful tips you've read in blog posts. Bookmark articles, jot down quotes, and scribble ideas as you think of them. All of these ideas will take form once you dive in later to schedule your weekly posts.
For Example: I wrote down "discipline over motivation" on my monthly calendar after thinking back to a periscope Mariah Coz did and an episode from the Being Boss Podcast. Then, when I was planning out my social media posts for the week, I created this Instagram post.
AT THE BEGINNING OF EACH WEEK:
Step 1 - Research articles that fit within your chosen theme for the week. I use my handy new Pinterest boards to find articles on business, branding, blogging, and social media. I also have my go to blogs, like Chloe Social for in depth, informative posts on social media and Kayla Hollatz for actionable tips on growing an engaged community.
Step 2 - Schedule all of the articles you found for the week. Be sure you also schedule in your own blog posts, announcements, products / services, and newsletter sign up. I personally use Buffer to schedule social media. I love their simple user interface and minimal design. (No affiliate links here. Just true love.)
Step 3 - Engage! Throw in some live tweets, attend a twitter chat or two throughout the week, reach out to followers and see how they're doing. Comment, favorite, share, and like other people’s tweets, IG photos, and pins. It's the easiest way to start a conversation and build a closer relationship with someone in your community.
Hold up! Wait a minute! Let me put my two sense in it. What about the specifics!? The who, what, where, when, and how of scheduling social media? Don't worry, I have you covered there too.
WHO. WHAT. WHERE. WHEN. HOW.
WHO SHOULD I POST TO?
Your ideal client or reader. Figure out who she or he is, what they like, where they hang out, what they’re struggling with, and how you can help them. Then write every single post like you’re talking directly to that one person.
WHAT SHOULD I POST?
- helpful, relevant articles from fellow bloggers and business owners
- your own products, services, collaborations, and blog posts
- motivational quotes from fellow bosses or your mentors
- personal posts (Like your love for ice cream winning over your will to have abs. Yes, I’ve actually posted about this before.)
- shoutouts to people you meet along the way for being awesome
- questions you have to learn more about your community
- create and use boards within your niche (Yes, this means you might have to change that unrelated recipe board you have to secret. Unless you're a food blogger... Then publicly pin away!)
- repin articles from fellow bloggers and entrepreneur's in your community
- pin and repin images from your own website and boards
- share pins from group boards within in your niche (Who knows, maybe they'll ask you to join in!)
- motivational quotes (Grit & Virtue has a gorgeous system for doing this.)
- your dreams, beliefs, and vision (Hey Sweet Pea shares tons of theirs.)
- behind the scenes (Bri Land shares her wood products as she builds them.)
- sneak peeks (Rowan Made shares tons of new, and old, design work.)
- your office space (People want to see where you work, like Elle & Company.)
- stories that your people can relate to (This post about my entreprenueral journey has the highest engagement out of all my photos.)
Hint: The captions are just as important as the photos you take on Instagram. This is, by far, the most time consuming social media platform for me. However, if you plan out your week in advance and stick with an editing process, you will get quicker at it over time. It used to take me almost an hour to post one photo. Now it takes me less than twenty minutes to edit, crop, comment, and share.
WHERE SHOULD I POST?
If you're not sure which social media platforms you should be spending your time and energy on, I would suggest three things:
- Don't try to be everywhere all at once. Master one or two platforms before moving to another one. (For example: I started with Twitter, moved to Instagram, and then to Pinterest.)
- Find out where your dream clients or readers hang out and be there.
- Read this article from Chloe Social. It's all about deciding which social media platforms you should be on.
WHEN SHOULD I POST?
Everyone will tell you different "best times" to post, because everyone's audience is unique. The only way to figure out the best times to post for you is to look at your own analytics. The stats don't lie.
Connect your Twitter account to Tweriod. (Chloe Social introduced me to this amazing tool. Have I mentioned how amazing she is at providing in depth social media help yet?) Tweriod give you hourly graphs showing you the best times to post on weekdays and weekends based on your audiences past interactions with your tweets.
So based on my most recent Tweriod analysis, the best times for me to post during the week are 10am, 12pm - 1pm, 4pm, and 6pm.
Saturday is the day of pinning. Every social media expert will tell you to post on Saturday mornings and nights. I have the highest number of pins scheduled to go out Saturday mornings between 8am - 11am. If I have time Saturday morning, I will also be pinning live. Early mornings and later nights during the week are also good for early bird inspiration seekers and night owl insomniacs too.
My latest stats show that my people hang out on Instagram Tuesdays at 10pm, Wednesdays at 11am and 7pm, Thursdays at 2pm, Fridays at 1pm and 3pm, and Saturdays at 5pm.
Again, everyone's best posting times are different! Use the tools to help you find out when you should be posting on social media. Then stick to it and check back every month or so to see if there are any changes.
HOW MANY TIMES A DAY SHOULD I POST?
Shoot for three to five times per day during the week and at least one or two times on the weekend. A great place to start is with this handy Social Media Schedule for Small Businesses from Nesha Designs. I started implementing this schedule a few months ago and have modified it a bit now by adding in more posts everyday. Just make sure you're sticking to the 70 / 30 sharing rule here! (Share 70% of other people's work for every 30% you share your own work.)
Pin at least five times per day. The Nectar Collective's advice is to schedule 100 pins per week. (It's actually a lot easier to do than you'd think!)
Shoot for posting at least once per day. Personally, I’m not to the point where I share daily yet. Right now, I attempt to post at least five times per week. I'm a believer in quality over quantity, especially when it comes to Instagram, the queen of visuals. With that said, the more consistently you post, the more followers and engagement you will see.
WHEW. YOU MADE IT! LET'S RECAP.
Are you overwhelmed or stressed out yet? If so, take a deep breath. The more you practice posting consistently on social media, the more routine it gets and the faster it goes. I also created a simple guide recapping everything we talked about today, which you can download below.
Start by blocking off an hour at the end of every month to plan out your next month’s weekly themes. Then block off two to three hours every Sunday or Monday to find, plan, and schedule your Twitter (and Facebook, if you use it) posts for the week. Also use this time to plan, photograph, edit, and caption your Instagram posts. Lastly, block off an hour to schedule 100 pins, have a Pining Party while you veg out on Netflix, or pin as you go throughout the week!
That’s roughly three hours per week or two (eight hour) days per month dedicated to growing your brand through social media. This is time you're spending actively marketing, attracting your dream clients, and growing a thriving community. You know all of that time you spend just scrolling through social media feeds? (Guilty. I know, we all do it.) Start using that time to work on your own social media strategy!