When Facebook and other social media platforms first became popular, it didn't matter if a showroom or interior design firm didn't participate. Social media was for personal uses, not business purposes, so why bother?
Now the game has changed, and a business's social media matters just as much as its marketing strategy. The problem is a lot of showrooms and design firms struggle to keep up with their social media demands. They have trouble finding content to share or they draw blanks when they open their accounts to post. When they look back at their accounts at the end of the week, they have little engagement and content holes on days where they forgot or got too busy to post.
If this is you, know that you're not alone. Follow these four easy tips to simplify your social media.
Narrow your platform focus
With so many different social media platforms, you might feel compelled to be on all of them. And it's true: different demographics hang out on different platforms. Millennials, for example, love Instagram. New homeowners and renovators browse Pinterest and Houzz so they can get ideas for their projects.
But you don't need to be on every single social media platform, especially if you're feeling overwhelmed. Narrow your focus down to just two platforms and concentrate on building a strong following with those users. You'll feel less overwhelmed, and you won't need to come up with so many unique ideas for each account.
We recommend being on Facebook above all others. Facebook by far has the largest user base with 1.94 billion active users per month in March 2017 alone, and its platform gives you room to include important details about your business (open times, address, phone number, ect). Facebook functions as a mini website, and Google often pushes it to the top in search results, which is great if your website's SEO is slow-going.
For a second platform, you might try Instagram, Houzz or Pinterest. Instagram definitely has the largest following of the three, and it's a wonderful way to showcase your retail store or interior design style.
Plan your postings at the beginning of the week
Social media users want to see authenticity from businesses. To business owners, that translates to doing off-the-cuff posts at all hours of the day, but authenticity and planning aren't mutually exclusive. It may seem like an oxymoron to plan something that you think should be spontaneous, but planning your social media posts at the beginning of the week will take the pressure off for the rest of the week.
By choosing topics and content to share at the beginning of the week, you save yourself time and energy during the rest of the week when you're bound to get busier. It gives you a set time to sit quietly and just focus on your social media accounts. Your posts will sounds more branded, and you'll be less likely to miss spelling errors in your posts.
On a spreadsheet, notebook or word document, outline your posts for the week. Do a little research and find relevant third-party content that your followers would like. Plan to post content from your blog (you have a blog, right?). Promotions or events you're planning can be posts. Even little-known holidays such as Hot Dog Day (July 19th) can be posts if you can tie them into your business. Don't overthink your planning, just use a little creativity.
Use scheduling tools
Even the best-laid plans can fall through. You've done all that work planning, but by the end of the week, you've forgotten to post half of your content. It happens to the best of us, but forgetting your posts isn't doing you any favors. Lucky for business owners, there are several tools and platforms that will allow you to schedule posts in advance.
Facebook is built with a scheduling tool in its posting function. When you create a Facebook post, click the arrow next to the Publish button and select Schedule. You can choose the date and time your post will appear.
There are also third-party tools like Hootsuite that will allow you to post content to multiple platforms and schedule posts in advance. Rather than jumping between accounts, Hootsuite makes it easy to post to multiple accounts at once and monitor your engagement and streams. However, research has shown that Hootsuite posts and other third-party posts do not get the same amount of engagement as posts that come directly from Facebook. There's no proof that Facebook penalizes these posts, but all of them come with the "Posted by Hootsuite" tag, which can make posts look automated. We know users love authenticity, so seeing the Hootsuite tag may get you a reputation for being automated. Still, it does save a lot of time, which may be more valuable to you as you start building a stronger following.
There are automation tools that can automate Instagram, but there are some problems that come with automatic liking and commenting on photos. Instagram has policies against these tools, and using them can hurt your account, if you're caught.
When you get a Facebook notification, do you drop everything and respond immediately? Are you stressed because you feel that you have to respond to every message within minutes? Though you want to be responsive and connected with your followers, don't feel like you're chained to your social media accounts. Planning your posts and scheduling them should take the stress off your shoulders and allow you to step away from your accounts for the majority of the day.
You do need to stay engaged, but do it at either the end or beginning of the day. Take five or 10 minutes to respond on your own time. Reply to comments, like posts and add your own comments all at once instead of trying to keep up with everything as it's posted. Think of it like email: replying within the first 24 hours is completely acceptable. As long as you stay in that timeframe, you shouldn't have a problem.
At its core, social media is about conversation. Don't lose sight of that because you're worried about what to post. Simplify your social media and you'll see your following grow.
How are you simplifying social media? Tell us in the comments!
(Photo: Jason Howie)