Most business owners and managers are very busy people. A significant drain on time and effort, if there aren’t already enough things to do on any given day, is maintaining a business blog and/or multiple social media accounts.
Here are 15 ways a busy owner or manager can save time and succeed with this essential but time-consuming task.
Don’t Bite Off More Than You Can Chew
Facebook, Instagram, Google+, Twitter, The Blog, Tumblr, Pinterest, Youtube channel…….when you set off down the road to creating an online presence the ever-increasing number of places to begin can be overwhelming. Spread yourself too thin and nothing gets done effectively.
To quickly get some traction prioritise your options, drop those that do not present an immediate opportunity, and begin at the top. Facebook and Instagram are generally excellent places to start. The business blog should be high up your list since it is key to keeping a website updated with fresh content that contributes massively to SEO. Social media though is an easier introduction that quickly opens the door to a huge potential audience.
Keep it manageable, get comfortable with it, and find what works for you. This will be an iterative process. Keep going round the loop, watch and learn from others – see what works for them. Once you have a routine that works efficiently and is doable with the time available, consider your next option on the list.
If it wasn’t your top choice, running a regular blog for your business might be next. This is much more time-consuming, and in order to succeed you need to…
Get Into The Habit Of Writing
For those that don’t write regularly the task of sitting down and creating an article or blog post from scratch is often a daunting one. Even writers find writing difficult at times.
The practice of the daily writing ritual is familiar to many who seek to improve and gain confidence in their writing. I first came across this with Julia Cameron’s Morning Pages in her book “The Artists Way”. Get out of bed in the morning, take a pen, and write three pages of A4. For me this amounted to 20-30 minutes and around 1000 words. Every day. For 12 weeks.
That’s 84,000 words – about the same as a reasonable length novel.
The writing ritual does not require you to produce a polished editorial piece – generally no-one will be reading it. The point is to get into the habit of being focused on the task. To begin with the words will likely be stream-of-consciousness rubbish. As the days and weeks pass an evolution will take place. General themes and ideas will appear and the writing will flow more easily. You may start to notice a personal writing style taking shape – commonly referred to as “finding your voice”. You may even start to look forward to the daily ordeal.
How is this a time-saving tip ? Spending 30 minutes writing stuff that no-one is going to read ?
Savings and investment go hand in hand. Think of this one as an investment – one that will save you many hours later down the track.
Once you are in the habit of writing, the job is even easier and more enjoyable if you…
Write About What You Know And What Interests You
When you write about what you know you convey a degree of authority to your audience. Writing about unfamiliar topics requires even more time-consuming research, and the result may lack that authority.
A solution is to share content from someone who is an authority, with some additional comment of your own as to why it is relevant and useful to your readers.
If you are not interested in the content you are creating then your job is that much harder, and it’s highly unlikely to interest your audience.
One way to ensure you always have a supply of interesting material is to…
Keep An Idea Bank
Ideas are wonderful. The more you have the more you have – they feed on each other and multiply. Often though they are fleeting, so getting them down somewhere as soon as they occur is extremely important.
Having a ready-to-go list of ideas saves a huge amount of time, especially if each idea includes a brief outline or structure at the point of capture. No more sitting looking at a blank screen or blank sheet of paper. Pick one that you’re in the mood for and run with it. Take two ideas and mash them together into a better one, and note down new ideas that spring to mind whilst working on another
Wherever you keep your ideas, keep it as simple as possible. When at the computer I simply keep a Notepad document open, and offline a physical notepad with “IDEAPEDIA” written on the front. Whatever you use must be readily at hand and available at all times, otherwise it won’t get used or won’t be there when you need it’.
From your Idea Bank, when you’re ready to flesh things or do further research, why not…
Use Pinterest to Develop and Collect Material
These days many business’s and brands use Pinterest as an engagement tool to drive traffic to their sites. However, it began as a place to save and share ideas, articles and images for personal projects and hobbies.
You too can use it in this way to collect your own ideas for future blog and social media posts. Simply set up a private board for each category, theme or idea and start pinning.
Install the Pinterest browser button and pin research content direct to your boards from any website.
Create Templates For Your Content
Create some sort of standards/templates for your brand so that blog articles, social media content and marketing material is not a mishmash of different styles and layouts. This is well worth implementing up front before diving in, especially if you have multiple people creating your content.
Templates give a structure that automatically organises your thoughts, the relevant content can simply be slotted in. For blog articles and pages, if you are using a hosting platform such as WordPress, your theme options and widgets help to create this standard layout. For social media and marketing, use a design tool such as Canva to create perfectly sized content for each.
If you note ideas into your Idea Bank as they come and save useful content as you find it using Pinterest or similar tool, then leave them alone for a while and…
Let Your Subconscious Do The Thinking
Get productive doing nothing.
Or, since we are busy, get productive doing something else and put the power of the subconscious to work.
When you next review your Idea Bank a bunch of fresh ideas are preformed and available to tap into and enhance your content, all created with minimal effort.
With a significant amount of potential material to hand you could now…
Create and Schedule Posts in Bulk
Scheduling posts on Facebook is simple and allows the creation and subsequent publication of posts in bulk. Use this option to drip feed daily “bread and butter” posts, such as a “Photo Of The Day”, and create breathing space to concentrate on other content that needs more time and thought.
The scheduling available within each social media channel will usually suffice most personal bloggers and small business’s. When running campaigns for different divisions, departments or clients applications such as Buffer and HootSuite can perform more complex scheduling tasks. Free introductory versions are available – but for the advanced features you will need to pay for the upgrade.
Use Instagram to run a Microblog
Writing articles for a business blog, or indeed a personal blog, can be extremely time-consuming – outline, structure, research, words, images, links, proofreading, polishing, proofreading again, maybe another proofread, a final proofread, and then finally publication. Getting 1000 words of morning pages down may take 30 minutes. A 1000-1500 word article worthy of publication on your business website blog will take considerably longer, possibly 4-5 hours or more. If you’re not ready for this, or just simply do not have the time on a regular basis then using one of the social media channels as a micro-blogging site is an alternative.
If I were to choose a microblogging platform I would go with Instagram. The vast majority of Instagram users simply post an image with a short or non-existent comment. With an interesting and relevant image plus a 100-200 word commentary you have a perfectly adequate microblog article with substantially more engagement potential than the image alone. And 100-200 words is very doable in 5-10 minutes.
This strategy has worked very well for National Geographic. Stunning photographs backed up with informative and interesting text served in bite-size chunks resulting in posts gaining likes numbering in the hundreds of thousands.
Photo by @daviddoubilet Crabeater seals (Antarctica) have strange and wonderful dentition that allows them to feed on small crustaceans called krill. We found a number of crabeater seals snoozing on small pieces of ice called bergy bits neat Palmer Station, #Antarctica. It is a good idea to shoot from a distance and when they wake up and ask you to leave it is time to wrap it up, go back to the ship and let them go back to sleep. With @thephotosociety @natgeocreative #ocean#adventure #explore #polar #wonder #teeth for #moreocean follow @jenniferhayesig and @daviddoubilet
If microblogging is still too onerous a task, then another option is to…
Curate User Generated Content
If you have your own dedicated hashtag for your business then content created by other users (eg for resorts, your guests) can be curated across platforms using tools such Tagboard, Flipboard, or RebelMouse, or easily found and shared within each individual social media channel.
A business with a constant stream of customers, clients, or guests has a potentially endless supply of new content – all created for free. Use it !!
Still too much work? Then you need to…
Share, Share, Share
However much (or little) time you do have there is always enough to share relevant content created by someone else. Even if you are fortunate enough to have the time to create a ton of your own content, interspersing this with shared content helps to break up what otherwise may turn into one topic page. Remember, it’s not all about you or your business !
Goodwill goes a long way, costs nothing, and best of all it carries on working even when you can’t, so spread it around and reap the rewards later down the line.
Re-purpose or Re-publish Old Content
Not all followers of your page or blog join at the same time, or see everything as and when it is published, so it pays to republish content from time to time.
Using the engagement metrics provided by Facebook and other social media sites pick some of your best performing posts and give it a fresh airing. In the case of a blog or website article re-publish the link to your social media pages.
Taking a fresh look at old content can also provoke new ideas to either make it better, or prompt a brand new article – something that may just be referenced in one piece could call for a whole future article of its own.
Our early efforts online can often be improved with the benefit of hindsight and experience, so spending a little time regularly reviewing old content can pay off nicely:
- Should there be more photo’s ?
- Should there be more links to back up your line of thought ?
- Should there be more links to your own content elsewhere on your site ?
- Can it be made more readable with better headings or structure ?
The time taken to do this type of review or rework is considerably less than writing new content from scratch, and forms the basis of a continuous improvement program for your content at little cost.
Use Available Timeslots Effectively
We all have competing priorities, and a well-planned day can often turn into a nightmare at the headless chicken farm. By preparing potential material ahead of time, keeping your ideas collected and accessible, and being aware of the myriad different ways content can be created, shared, used and reused allows even the smallest of time slots to be put to good use.
On a low energy day with 10 minutes to spare then sit down with a cup of tea and get pinning on your Pinterest boards. If you are blessed with two or three hours of guaranteed peace and quiet some serious writing would be more appropriate. Two minutes to spare before logging off for the day ? Like and share someone else’s content and drop them a comment.
As a business owner many skills are learned on the job, including a raft of personal time-saving tricks. Even with these skills and tools, as a business grows it is impossible to do everything as an individual, and staff are naturally hired to fill specific positions to get jobs done – managers, administrators, technicians, marketers, housekeepers and maintenance men to name a few.
Many business’s now employ staff – permanent, part-time, or contract – to focus specifically on online activities and allow other staff to get on with what they do best rather than burden them with additional responsibilities that may be out of their comfort zone. Spread them too thin and nothing gets done effectively.
Whoever fills the role will likely use some of the tools and techniques discussed here to get their job done, and allow you to get on with yours.
So, that’s almost it – a slightly longer post than usual. Using just a couple of these tips should make a difference to your social media schedule. Some are just plain common sense, but common sense is only useful when it’s applied, so the last tip to make up the 15 promised is…
Stop Reading this and Get On With It !!
Thanks for reading,
Do you have any hints or tips of your own ? Leave a comment below !!
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