As the Freelance Social Media Manager for BAPIA, I thought I’d take a second to answer some frequently asked questions about social media marketing to ease any apprehensions:
“I barely have time to run my business as it is but I know I need a social media presence. How did I find time to fit it all in?”
Rather than feel compelled to be on social media every day, I encourage you to assess the time that you have to spare each week, even if it's just an hour, and then prioritise and allocate your social media tasks accordingly. Remember, it only takes a few seconds to share an Instagram Story clip and when it comes to social media, every little helps. Often I find that the most stress-free approach is to stockpile photos and videos to post later when I have some downtime and free scheduling apps like Buffer can help with this. Whether it's a quick moment between bookings or stealing a second in the supermarket queue, you always have time for one quick post!
“How often should I post?”
This is really dependent on a number of factors, the most important of which is your resources. If you only have time to post once a week, only post once a week. If you can manage more, great! It's much better to post something highly interesting to your followers once a week than to post something mundane every hour just for the sake of it. While it's good to remain in the forefront of your followers' minds, they can also actually get turned off by over-posting which is considered spammy and will lead them to unfollow you altogether. Finding the right frequency is often a case of trial and error, although there are tools which you can use to find the posting sweet spot faster. Apps like Tweriod and Iconosquare can tell you when the majority of your followers are online as well as the in-built analytics or ‘insights’ in some platforms such as Facebook and Instagram.
“Do I need to be on every social media platform?”
Absolutely not. In fact, I strongly advise against it. There are always more potential followers to be reached on social media so don't kill yourself trying to get to them all. You will only spread your resources too thin and end up with several neglected pages that reflect badly on your brand. Instead, focus on those social media platforms which your customers use the most and put your resources into spreading strong, consistent messaging which will really speak to your followers and bring you business.
“Which social media platforms should I be on then?”
This is completely personal to your business and your customers. Teens and young adults are most active on Snapchat, Millennials, aka those currently aged 25-40, are more likely to be active on Facebook and Instagram whereas the generation before, ‘Gen X’ are most active on Facebook. The most important thing to remember is that wherever your buying customers are, that is where you want to be. Not sure where that is? Ask them! Run polls across your social media or have a good old chat on the job. Understanding your customers is the key part of any marketing campaign, social media or otherwise. Too shy to ask? Use the in-built analytics on your social media platforms for an idea of which types of customers hang out where.
“Do I need to be available on social media 24/7?”
No, not at all. Think of social media as a mix of advertising and customer service. While it's obviously better to acknowledge queries as quickly as possible, it's perfectly understandable that you will be AFK (away from keyboard) from time to time. A recommended rule of practise is that, as long as your business office is open, you should aim to periodically check your social media. If you can’t deal with an enquiry right away, an easy solve is to have a quick, ‘Thank you for reaching out, we’ll get back to you ASAP!’ response ready in your phone notes. That way when you get a DM you can just copy and paste that until you have time to respond fully and the potential customer knows that you will get back to them when you can. Screengrab the DM if you need to so that you remember to come back to it.
“What if someone DMs me overnight, isn't it bad for business to leave it until the morning?”
It's perfectly okay to only respond on social media during business hours. Customers understand that you are human and have lives too! Even big businesses like Google close their office doors each day, take a break! If you’re unable to check every profile every day, have a note in each platform’s bio asking customers to email you for the fastest response - that way you only have one inbox to monitor daily and can check the others less often.
“I’m not good at taking photos. How do I run an Instagram account?”
You don't need to be a pro photographer to have a successful Instagram account. That being said, if you’re going to take a photo you may as well do it well, so to sharpen up your phone photography skills have a read of this BAPIA News Post on How to Take Great Photos for Instagram. Instagram is all about sharing moments more than beautiful imagery and you'll actually find that people are far more likely to respond well to an honest, in the moment snap rather than something that’s been heavily edited beyond the point of relatability. Marketing on Instagram, like all social media platforms, is above all about showing your followers that you understand them more than anything. Understand what they like to see and, more importantly from a business point of view, that you understand what they need. Be funny, be relatable and be real. As long as you can do this you're golden.
And remember, if we all balloon responsibly, the party never has to end!