As a solopreneur, you need to market yourself…and, in my opinion, there’s no better way to build awareness and nurture relationships than through social media. Oh, I’m a huge proponent of face-to-face networking, too. That’s also essential. But social media is likely to give you the most bang for your buck – and for your time. Plus, if you’re not on social media (or if you’re there, but totally ignoring your presence), you’re inevitably going to fall behind your competition. You need to be present, accounted for, accessible and active online. Social Media gives you the opportunity to be top of mind on a daily basis!
Cutting to the chase
Make no mistake, embracing – and engaging on – social media requires time, energy, trial, and error. But so does everything else that yields positive results for your solo-business. And like for everything else, you need to plan and put processes in place to incorporate social media into your routine. That’s right – you need to treat it as a part of your day-to-day operations, not as some secondary activity that you’ll get around to if you have a few spare minutes. You need to commit to it – and follow through.
Look – and think – before leaping
The worst thing you can do is jump on the shiny object syndrome bandwagon and set up profiles on every hip social network that’s out there. Solopreneurs have limited time for any single activity because we’re wearing all the hats in our businesses. You need to be choosy and select the platforms that provide the most opportunity and for which you’ll have time to manage them effectively.
- Research which networks your clients and target customers are using most.
- Investigate how your competitors and others in your industry are using social media. Which platforms do they use? Do they seem to be getting interaction on them? What are they doing to get interaction from their fans? And if possible, find out how much time they’re devoting to them.
You’ll be far better off choosing one or two social networks and using them consistently (ideally every day!), than signing up for three or four and posting every other week. A neglected social media presence looks lazy and unprofessional. Not the look you’re going for!
Fitting it in
Indeed, finding the time while tasked with all other business activities is perhaps the biggest challenge facing solopreneurs when it comes to social media. And you’ll find that social media has different layers of responsibility to it:
- Creating or curating content to share
- Responding to comments and messages
- Acting as a good social citizen and reviewing the news feed – and interacting with others
- Reciprocating (when appropriate) if others share your posts
- Adding connections to your network and following those (if it makes sense) who have followed you
How on earth can you manage all that? There’s no one-size-fits-all solution, but consider these tips…
- Establish specific windows of time each day to tackle one or more of tasks associated with social media. (For example: From 8 – 8:30 am curate content and respond to comments/messages; from 11:30 – Noon, review your news feed and interact with others and reciprocate by sharing posts of others who have shared yours; 6 – 6:15 pm, add connections/follow back)
- Use online tools to manage social media. Hootsuite, Buffer, Tweetdeck, Social Oomph, Sprout Social, and Facebook’s scheduling feature all let you pre-plan posts and schedule them to publish at a later time.
- Pay someone to help you. What’s your time worth? It’s up to you to do the math, but maybe if you’ve got a lot of billable work on your plate, it might make sense to contract someone to help you manage some aspects of your social media presence. As a solopreneur, I really think that YOU should be the one interacting and responding to your followers’ inquiries and comments, but you might enlist the help of someone to curate links to relevant articles that you can use in your social media posts later. You might even ask them to develop a schedule for them. Finding good content and the right variety of content – and determining when to post it – can demand a significant amount of time. There’s no shame in asking for assistance!
- Pay attention to, but don’t get too bogged down in metrics. Don’t get caught in “analysis by paralysis” and rely too heavily on metrics. Staying consistently active, keeping content relevant, and interacting to build relationships is what will drive success on social media. Do pay attention to which types of posts are resonating most with your audience and be cognizant of the topics and types of posts that get a lot of likes, comments and shares. As far as figuring out “the best time to post,” I wouldn’t pay much mind to that unless you’re posting so infrequently that you really, really need to make it count. Plus, people are accessing their social networks just about any time and almost anywhere via their mobile devices so the best time to post is likely to be a moving target. The most important social media metric for you as a solopreneur: the leads and conversions you get through your social media activities. And fortunately, that’s generally easy to keep tabs on since most solopreneurs (especially those in professional services) are dealing with a handful or so of warm leads at any given time.
Solopreneurs who use social media consistently and with concerted effort can’t help but find opportunities. I sincerely believe that. The very nature of social media makes it an ideal venue for solo-professionals to connect with the businesses and individuals who they can serve. People ultimately do business with people – and I think that gives solopreneurs an edge over bigger brands behind a logo on social media. Be yourself, pay attention to what your audience reacts to, contribute to the conversation, and make your social media presence a priority in your business …good things will happen!
Now you! What are you doing to fit social media into your day every day? Any tips to share? What’s most challenging for you when it comes to fitting social media into your daily routine?
Image courtesy of basketman / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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