Solopreneur pals, I've heard and seen a LOT of bad social media advice lately – much of it shared ON social media. Don't fall for any of these myths or pieces of misguided advice. I've done the research for you and will hook you up with what REAL experts and data say. Your social media will get mightier and smarter!
NO, Please Don't!
Just because there are tools like Hootsuite, Buffer, PostPlanner, AgoraPulse or others that let you, doesn’t mean you should post the exact same thing everywhere! I get that it can seem time-saving to just cross-post the same thing to Twitter and Facebook, or push your photos straight from Instagram to Facebook or Twitter. But please stop!!
Take an extra few minutes and tailor your message – it's smarter and leads to better engagement. Each social platform is different, with different core audience types, different expectations, different etiquette, and different ‘unwritten rules’.
Twitter fans don’t like it when your Tweets trail off into bunch of ellipsis ( …) since you used more than 280 characters because it was really a Facebook post. And your Facebook audience is different than your Twitter followers and wants more of a story and content, not quick, sharp soundbites.
DO take a few extra minutes to tweak and customize your posts (inside tools like Buffer, HootSuite, PostPlanner, or the native social platforms) and optimize for each social network. Also, make sure your images are sized for optimal viewing on each platform. Tools like Canva and AdobeSpark with templates built in for all the sizes are your friend. Check my page on fave tools for more info on social media tools.
Congrats on getting more fans/followers! But … don't be quick to literally count on those counts. Dig a little behind the #s:
You don't want artificially inflated numbers, nor a disengaged audience who won't interact with you on social media. Fans/followers/Like counts are mostly considered ‘vanity’ metrics now and aren’t the real measure of social success.
Engagement matters more – to the social channels and to your bottom line. Marketing these days is much more (if not only) about sharing content that’s valuable, helpful, educational, and sometimes entertaining – quality over quantity. Start with the built-in analytics tools for all the major social platforms and see which of your posts get more engagement, impressions, shares, comments, RTs, your mentions, etc.
SproutSocial breaks out the metrics that matter for each social platform
Mention gives 10 metrics to pay attention to (including, naturally, ones it helps with – like sentiment)
Don’t forget – the metrics that matter most to YOU are the ones that get you closer to your overall marketing and business goals. [Need help getting clear on your SMART goals? Check out my SMART goals worksheet]
Social media HAS really leveled the playing field for small businesses and solopreneurs and given great opportunities to reach larger audiences for less. BUT… it is NOT free.
Social media costs plenty of time- time that you may be better off spending on other parts of your business. It takes resources – you need content (original and curated), graphics, tools (and you might need more than the freemium versions), and yes, we often have to buy ads, promote, or boost posts now to get them seen. Remember – your time is VERY valuable, so don’t discount it.
Where are your ideal clients? What social platforms do they use most, and on which ones are they willing to interact with businesses, people selling/promoting? Have you done your social media market research yet? Play to the strengths of each social platform AND your business and style.
Don’t waste time learning a tool and trying to build a consistent brand presence on a platform that your ideal clients aren’t using and willing to engage with you on. Plus, you have limited time, resources, and energy – don’t spread yourself so thin!
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Don’t be so quick to make assumptions or jump to conclusions without checking the data! Ask your clients what they use and why. Don’t ever assume.
Find more statistics at Statista
No, no, no. Social media IS marketing, just one part of your total marketing plan. It shouldn’t have its own team, plan, or separate strategy.
Your social strategy needs to hold hands and integrate with the rest of what you’re doing to promote your biz and fill your client list. It supports you, helps you get to your goals, drives traffic to your website and email list, lets you talk with potential clients/customers, and educates your audience. You absolutely can NOT build a marketing plan or your whole online presence solely on SM. Social can drive traffic, create more awareness of other content, amplify your other marketing and PR efforts.
Love this quote from Jay Baer:
“content is fire. Social media is gasoline.”
Well, #ItDepends. Hashtags are pretty darn important on Instagram (but don’t use quite so many), sort of important on Twitter, less important now than the beginning of Tumblr, and oh for the love of donuts please stop using them in all your posts on Facebook!
They are NOT a thing there, no matter how hard Facebook itself tried and wants you to believe they are. Yes, yes, they’re still active on FB – you can add them and even search by them. But outside of some groups, they’re mostly used ironically, tongue-in-cheek, or almost to prove how unhip they are on FB. Please don’t look spammy, overly promotional, or clueless by using the wrong tags, too many tags, or tags in the wrong places.
UPDATE: I'm forced to eat my words and earlier advice – as of mid 2020, hashtags really are a “thing” and strategy on Facebook. <facepalm> The only rule with Facebook, is that Facebook changes. All. The. Time. As of summer 2020, the official line from FB is that hashtags will improve reach. And if this info didn't come from FB Guru Mari Smith, I probably wouldn't have believed it – but she KNOWS FB. Check out the link for her definitive guide to FB hashtags as of 2020.
NOTE: while FB is pushing hashtags now and they're an option – there has NOT been an update to the large scale research that Buffer + BuzzSumo did. FB may promise more reach, but as of late 2020, there's no data yet to support.
Bottom line, use hashtags wisely.
Again, it sort of depends – there are some accepted guidelines for different social platforms AND your audience may react quite differently. Just like there are optimum times of day to post for YOUR audience, on EACH platform (check your analytics) – there are best practices on the number of times per day to post – but it varies by platform.
For example, while it seems counter-intuitive, try posting LESS to Instagram (i.e. no more than 1x/day, maybe only 3-4x/week. Better to post consistently, with quality, than too often)
Good news – some of the big names in social media have already done the research based on thousands (maybe millions) of posts and so we have some guidelines for how often to post (remember – consistent is best, quality over quantity):
NOTE: some things have changed (well, social media algorithms change all the time!) and especially in 2020 the ‘best times' to post on social are in flux. What all is going in the world at large can impact marketing best practices.
** SproutSocial has an updated guide to ‘best times to post on social media' and takes into account some of the 2020 environment (COVID).
It’s so tough when we try things, spend a lot of time and effort, and aren't sure it’s worth it. The phone didn’t start ringing more, we didn’t get emails from new prospective clients dying to hire us. Do we give up? Nope! Let's dig a little…
Jay Baer, of Convince and Convert and work for the CMI:
“social is extremely measurable, but first you have to do something that can be measured.”
It IS possible to tie in ROI and social and there are plenty of tools for social metrics that aim to help you do just that (e.g. AgoraPulse, SproutSocial, SocialBakers, etc).
You’re probably right. Humans don’t like boring! And we are marketing human-to-human, no matter what niche, field, or profession our clients are in. Doctors, lawyers, engineers, accountants, c-suite executives, and other small business owners all have personalities, and want to be entertained as well as informed. We need to appeal to, and trigger, emotions. We have to talk and act like the interesting, passionate humans we are, including on social media.
I’m not saying go wild, curse a blue streak, troll people, ignore all grammar and talk in text-speak. But for heaven’s sake don’t be stuffy and boring. Have a personality that’s congruent with your brand (you have a brand style guide right? With tone and voice? If not, it’s ok – let’s talk and maybe fix that.)
Share behind-the-scenes photos of you working on a project. Share your desk – yes, even your messy desk. Do live videos and not freak out if your office isn’t perfect looking (DO have good audio, good lighting, and a nice clear video pic – nothing fuzzy. But tips for videos and Lives are a whole other post, or training course!) Connect personally! Be HUMAN!
I regularly check the blogs for the major 3rd party social scheduling tools as they give great advice (not specific to just their app) and because of their access to a TON of data they can run some good tests:
Social media and the tips/rules/guidelines change FAST. That's one reason I gave you my go-to sources for news, trends, and who can do the big research we can't. But if you follow the tips I give here, and toss the bad social media advice, you'll be on your way to more social success.
[Orig Sept 2018; Updated Sept 2020]
I want all of my solopreneur pals to feel confident and mighty in their marketing - sharing what makes their work special and so vital to their clients. No B.S. or fluff here. I do the digging and research for you, translate "marketing-ese" into simpler terms, and help you avoid marketing headaches.