Everyone agrees that social media is important for coaching and consulting businesses. We’ve all seen companies use social media to become superstars. However, everyone also agrees that social media can waste vast amounts of your time if it’s not used effectively.
So - what is the difference between those who get great results from social media from those who do not? We asked the awarenow community of coaches and consultants as well as some external experts and came up with these 5 secrets for success on social media - even when you don’t have (much) time to invest.
Social Media Strategy #1:
Build a Brand
It’s easy for a company like Tesla, Apple, or Trader Joe’s to make an impact on social media. They have one major advantage. They don’t have to explain who they are or what they stand for before they get to the point of their post. That information is already embedded in their brand.
Obviously, a coaching or consulting business is never going to have the reach of Apple. You don’t need to. Apple’s target market is, essentially, the entire world (or at least that part of it that can afford its products) and its operations are big enough to serve it all. A career coach focused on women in finance coming back to the workforce after maternity leave is going to have a much smaller and focused target audience - and need not penetrate it all.
The point is that your audience should know you are, what you do, and what you stand for. That’s your brand. If the career coach above posted some tips for updating your resume, he or she can simply leave it at that; his or her audience knows that the content is credible and is targeted at them (and ideally comes from a place of shared values). It’s not one of a million “how to update your resume” posts that float around, unread, on social media every day.
Another way to think about it: having a brand means that your posts are like calling a friend; not having a brand is like being a telemarketer.
So - how do you build that brand?
Director of Operations Ashley Sterling of The Loop Marketing emphasizes consistency:
Create consistency in your brand's voice and presentation, to enable a sense of familiarity and reliability to your audience. Establish a mission statement for your brand - and stick with it. Develop a buyer profile that includes: demographics, ideal social platforms, demographic-appropriate graphics and promotions, rate/price range, and career or industry type. Be personable. Having an engaging connection with your audience is vital. Everyone wants to feel heard - the more they can be connected with real people, the better they will feel, and the more likely they are to return.
Similarly, Tracy Brinkmann, owner and creator of Dark Horse Schooling, suggests identifying and interacting with your brand’s target audience to “build relationships with your engagements”, and notes that “71% of consumers are more likely to buy from a brand after having a positive experience on social media.” This requires businesses to understand their target audience. For example, Brinkmann recommends that instead of just posting at times that are convenient for you, “doing a little research and making sure you are posting at the optimal time for your audience, content and platform.”
Social Media Strategy #2:
Batch Your Posts Ahead of Time
Most people find that it’s much quicker to record 10 short videos or write five blog posts in one sitting than to generate the same volume doing them one at a time on different days.
Digital marketer Claire Adams of FitSW endorses this approach, advising coaches to “create a content calendar and plan what type of content you want to post for each day and start by creating a month's worth of content.” Taking this a step further, Adams recommends that “for random, spur of the moment posts, create templates to use for different posts that you can just change the colors, image, or text on.”
For extra efficiency, you can use automation tools to schedule these batch-processed social media posts ahead of time. Dan Nolan, founder and website developer for Camping Console, recommends Hootsuite and Later.com, noting that “these apps will make sure that your account consistently posts content especially if you do not have the time to do so. They work like an automated social media manager without the salary.”
Laura Gariepy, owner of Every Day by the Lake and creator of Before You Go Freelance, gets similar results batch-processing content and then scheduling using Smarterqueue:
I periodically carve out a small block of time to load several new posts into the tool. I tell it when and where to post, and then I walk away. I can even tell Smarterqueue to recycle the posts so that evergreen content gets posted on a rotating basis indefinitely. Then, all I need to do is respond when folks engage with my posts. It's a great way to always be present on social media without literally always being on social media!
Some automation tools do much more than just post on your behalf. For example, Usama Raudo, a digital marketing strategist with Within the Flow, uses an app called Combin “to automate the following & unfollowing of relevant profiles as well as reposting, commenting, and posting. This practice helped us to grow Instagram followers to 50k with complete automation.”
Even some of engaging with your audience can be automated, though of course you’ll want to do this with care so that your audience does not feel taken for granted. For example, as noted by Clara Buenconsejo, digital marketing consultant for The Clay Media:
Instead of replying to Facebook messages one-by-one, you can activate the automated replies setting that's already built-in for Facebook pages. You can customize those replies to contain information about your schedule/availability, your menu of services, and answer other frequently asked questions.
You can take the automation further by setting up a Facebook chatbot--without needing to learn how to code--using Chatfuel or MobileMonkey. While setting up a chatbot may take up some time at first, you'll end up saving time and money in the long run, because these bots will take care of answering prospective clients biggest questions.
Social Media Strategy #3:
For many people, it can be more time-efficient to create video rather than written content. Andrew Rozhnov of Staff Hero explains that “it’s easier to create other types of content from video than vice versa. Each video should be dedicated to one topic. No need to write video scripts. Just speak out of your mind. No need to invest a lot in professional video recording. People love when it’s natural.” As Rozhnov notes, you can easily repurpose video content into other forms (audio, and/or using a service live rev.com to make a transcript), efficiently creating even more content for you.
Joe Brusca, Co-Owner at Build Assets Online, suggests using YouTube’s tools to make the process even easier and more efficient:
Leverage YouTube live so you can provide valuable content without the entire process of recording and editing. Once you go live it will save on YouTube as a normal video. This means you don't need to mess around with filming, exporting, rendering, etc. Also focus on content with a lot of staying power by going after relevant keywords on YouTube. Title your videos in a way that people search things on Google and you can also rank there as well.
Not only is video content often more efficient and always easier to repurpose to make more content, but it also helps in the branding process - as per Strategy Tip #1 above. Cory Colton, principal executive coach of Inflection Point Coaching, explains:
Video is a great way to engage potential clients and help them understand your offerings and your personality. Purchase an inexpensive ring light and use your smartphone to record short, engaging videos to post to your linked platforms. Facebook Live is another great option for regular interaction. One coaching colleague of mine hosts a 15-minute Facebook Live presentation every Tuesday. Using video and keeping it on a regular schedule is a great way to build a following.
Social Media Strategy #4:
It is not always necessary to create new content every single time you post on social media. Social media content often has a short shelf-life in our memories, which founder and president Brandyn Campbell thinks we should take advantage of, noting that “once a piece of content is created--a blog or video post, a presentation or a client report--we usually forget about it. Extend the life cycle of some of that work and thought and repackage it into social media posts and features to inform and inspire your audience.”
This, like the scheduling social media posts (see Strategy Tip #2), can also be automated. Chelsea Baldwin, founder of Business Bitch, uses social media recycling software:
One of the best ways to maximize your social media presence when you don't have time is to use a social media recycling software, like RecurPost or MeetEdgar. Basically, you upload a collection of social media posts once and set a calendar of how often you want the posts to be shared. The software goes from the top of the list to the bottom of the list, and when it runs out of posts to share, it starts back up at the top. If you have 60 posts and share one per day, that means you share each post once every other month, and could be set on your social media sharing for an entire year with something like this.
Social Media Strategy #5:
Seek Out Communities
Join social media communities with similar interests to you and your brand. Digital marketing consultant Olga Tsimaraki, found this worked best for her:
Facebook groups, for example, are a place where you can help potential clients without being salesy. All you need to do is find the right groups. From there, keeping up with the new posts and making sure to contribute where you can is not really a difficult task. Sign in once a day, review the posts, and give a simple, clear answer to someone's question when that question is right up your alley.
Another strategy involves guest-posting, as Paige Arnof-Fenn, founder and CEO of Mavens & Moguls, explains:
Instead of trying to start your own blog or newsletter, try contributing regularly to existing well trafficked blogs in your industry or newsletters of like-minded organizations reaching the same target audience as you. Make sure you put your URL or contact info on it so they can find you and follow up. When your articles or talks become available online, make sure to send them out via social media to all your friends, followers and contacts.
Maximize Your Reach with Hashtags
Nevertheless, no matter what content you are posting, use hashtags. Adding hashtags to your social media posts is a simple way to quickly spread visibility. Digital B2B program manager at Banner Health, Caitlin Wendt explains, “You could have 100 followers but writing a post with hashtags could increase the visibility of your content by hundreds or thousands because more follow that category of content (that hashtag).”
Experts agree that a key to maximizing your presence on social media with a reasonable time investment comes through a mix of branding and efficiently creating, distributing, repurposing, and recycling content. Make social media work for you!