Last Updated June 11th, 2018

Which Social Media Sites Should You Be Marketing On?

Which Social Media Sites Should You Be Marketing On?

There are a lot of social media websites out there. You could spend hours each day on marketing on them, but which social media sites will give you the best results?

That depends on you and your target market.

Social media websites will rarely do you any good at all if you don’t put some effort into it. If you just sign up and drop your link in, you probably aren’t going to see much benefit from any of them. Occasionally,  a business will have some success on a social media site they weren’t even trying for because visitors keep sharing them, but that’s an exception, not the rule.

Which Social Media Sites Have The Right Demographics?

Every social media site attracts a somewhat different demographic, and this is what you need to look at as you figure out which social media sites to use. I’ve pulled some demographic information from Pew Research Center to get you started, but you may decide to look deeper.

To make the most of this information, of course, you need to know what your target market is. How old are they? What gender? What are their interests?

social media sites

YouTube

YouTube is huge. You may think of it as a video sharing site, but it has its social media side too. 73% of American adults use YouTube. 94% of 18- to 24-year-olds use it, making it a great option if you’re seeking a younger audience.

In other words, video is huge. If you can add video to your marketing mix, you have the chance to reach a lot of people.

Facebook

Facebook is the other big one. 68% of American adults use Facebook. It’s widely used by most demographics, although people are frustrated with Facebook’s privacy issues.

Snapchat

If you’re looking at a younger audience, 78% of 18- to 24-year-olds use Snapchat. That’s a lot. Snapchat offers ways for businesses to advertise on their platform. Snapchat can be extremely effective for advertisers, offering twice the visual attention of Facebook, beating out Instagram and YouTube as well.

You can use Snapchat to build your business free as well, of course. You have to understand the limitations of the platform and tell interesting stories to attract followers.

Twitter

Twitter attracts only 24% of American adults but jumps up to 45% of 18- to 24-year-olds. They increased the maximum tweet length to 280 characters a while ago, which is a huge help to marketers.

Pinterest

Many bloggers love Pinterest. The visual style is highly appealing, and for the right business, the demographics are great. It only gets 29% of American adults overall, but 41% of women. Pinterest is particularly popular for crafting and recipe websites, but many other niches do well there.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a great choice if you’re targeting college graduates in a professional capacity. 50% of Americans with a college degree use LinkedIn, but only 9% with a high school diploma or less. LinkedIn is very much focused on professional networking, so it’s probably not a good choice if your business doesn’t relate to that. B2B can do well on LinkedIn.

Instagram

Instagram presents special challenges to marketers, as you cannot put live links in your updates. You can have one in your profile, but that’s it. Still, Instagram attracts 35% of American adults and 71% of 18- to 24-year-olds. Some marketers do very well with Instagram.

You can view more details of the demographics from the Pew report through this link.

Where’s Your Target Market?

Demographic information is only helpful if you know enough about your target demographics. They aren’t always what you think they are.

If you know your competition, you can take a bit of a shortcut and see which social media sites they’re having success with. Take a look at their social media buttons. Many sites show how many shares they’ve received on individual posts and pages as a form of social proof.  This can help you decide where you want to focus your efforts as well.

Visit their social media pages as well, especially for social media sites such as Instagram, where you can’t otherwise see how well they’re doing.

Using this data from your competition is not the only thing you should do, of course. It’s just a starting place. You can experiment with other social media. You might find a place to focus where your competition is not.

Seek out references to your best keywords on the different social media sites. Don’t do this by just typing your keywords into a search box. Learn how to use hashtags to search them and see how often your keywords are used that way. Take a look at the content you find this way and the accounts it’s attached to. This can give you both inspiration and people to follow on those sites.

How Do You Use Social Media?

How you use a particular social media site depends on which one you’re using. What works well for one may not be the best way to build a network on another.

How often you should post on which social media sites varies tremendously. Some do poorly if you post more than once or twice a day, while others need frequent posts if you’re to do well at all. I’ve pulled data from this Coschedule post on how often to share on social media. I also looked at when social media users are most active through SproutSocial. The best times may vary somewhat by niche as well as by social media site. Don’t forget to consider the time zones of your target market when posting.

dream big

On any social media site, being overly promotional is not a good idea. People aren’t there to have things sold to them. They’re networking because they enjoy it, to build their own business, to get good information, that kind of thing. If you do nothing but say “buy, buy, buy,” they’ll unfriend you as fast as they can.

Instead, give quality information to bring people to you. If you sound like an expert and they need what you have to offer, they’ll decide to do business with you.

One thing that is valued by most social media sites is consistency. Don’t keep changing your post frequency. Your fans and followers will come to expect a certain number of posts per day from you, even if it’s more than the usual for that platform.

Most social media platforms love hashtags. They help people find your content. Even Pinterest likes hashtags now.

While you can learn some things just by reading online about the social networks you prefer, you will probably get faster results if you take an in-depth course. Sign up for one only if you have the time to put what you learn into practice. There is absolutely no point in paying for something and then never using it. A good course will help you avoid making too many mistakes with your social media.

These are, of course, affiliate links to the courses, but they are ones I consider to be good choices and have good reviews.

YouTube

The key to YouTube starts with making great videos, but that’s not where it ends. Your videos must be discovered by viewers, or it all means nothing. You need to learn how the YouTube search algorithm works and which techniques will bring your videos to the first page of YouTube so that they’re seen by potential viewers.

Course recommended: A Million Subs In A Year: YouTube Marketing and YouTube SEO

Facebook

You have so many options to market your business on Facebook. Starting a Facebook Page for your business is a must, but many businesses find starting a Facebook Group is even more powerful.

Most people suggest posting on your Facebook business page no more than twice a day, with once a day being ideal. This is especially true for promotional posts. If you’re being social and fun, you can probably get away with more, but be extremely careful that you do not post excessively or your reach will decrease and your fans will view your posts as spammy.

Businesses on Facebook often complain about how algorithm changes make it hard to reach their fans without paying for ads. It’s a legitimate problem. Facebook changes their algorithm often, and that can be a real headache. Paying for ads can be well worth it, however, once you know what you’re doing.

In general, you want to post on Facebook on weekdays from about 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., with Wednesdays and Thursdays performing best. Saturdays, evenings and early mornings have the least engagement.

Course recommended: Facebook Ads & Facebook Marketing MASTERY

Snapchat

I have not used Snapchat myself, and know very little about it. Hubspot recommends posting a Story only once or twice per week on Snapchat. Then spread your Snaps out through the day. You should also consider that not everyone has the sound turned on when they use Snapchat, so including text in your Stories is very helpful.

Course recommended: The Complete Snapchat Marketing Course

Twitter

Twitter is one of those places you can post a lot. 15 times a day is recommended, with several retweets of someone else’s content. Some recommend up to 50 or more tweets a day. Tweets disappear quickly as new tweets appear, giving each tweet a short lifespan if no one retweets it.

Don’t batch all your tweets into a short time frame, of course. Spread them out. Twitter does best on weekdays, with Fridays being the best around 9-10 a.m. Mornings are better than the afternoon in general, and weekends don’t do as well, with some exceptions.

Twitter has recently become more picky about the reuse of content. It used to be that you could use a scheduler to post the same tweet over and over again for as long as you liked. These days, Twitter views that as spam.

They prefer that you either rewrite the tweet in a new way each time you share a link to the same site or retweet your original tweet. Twitter is looking for more original content. This makes using schedulers such as HootSuite more difficult but not impossible. You just have to put a little more time into your individual tweets.

Course recommended: Twitter Marketing: 2 Minutes A Day To 10k Twitter Followers

Pinterest

Pinterest marketing can be a lot of fun, so long as you don’t fall for the time sink. Give it half a chance and you’ll probably find an interesting recipe or something to catch your eye.

There are a few key things you must do on Pinterest. The first is to create some keyword rich boards for the content you’ll pin from your own site. Make sure you add them to an appropriate category and give them a good description. You will want to follow relevant pinners and build up your own following.

Make sure your create your account as a business account to make the most of Pinterest. This will give you access to analytics and the ability to make your pins into rich pins.

Joining group boards on Pinterest is an excellent way to get your pins out to a wider audience, but be picky. Niche boards are usually far more powerful than “pin anything” boards, even if the “pin anything” board has a larger following. Pinterest prefers to see your pins categorized properly.

Pin a lot. Recommendations run from about 15-30 a day according to the Coschedule post, but I’ve seen many pinners swear by a higher number.

Recently, Pinterest has stated a preference for a variety of descriptions on pins. This makes scheduling more difficult, as tools such as Tailwind allow you to quickly schedule a bunch of identical pins. You have to do extra work to vary things. Make sure you create multiple pinnable images for each post. You never know which will take off best until you test them. Vertical images with a 2:3 ratio do best.

Pinterest currently gives priority to the first five pins you do each day, starting at midnight UTC. Pinterest activity peaks at about 9 p.m.

If you want to know when your best time to pin is, use Tailwind. Tailwind’s SmartSchedule will post pins at the time that is best for your industry, and by when it sees that you get the most engagement.

Course recommended: Pinterest Marketing: Using Pinterest for Business Growth

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is another of those sites that does not tolerate a lot of posting from businesses. Posting once a day is plenty.

If you want to do more, join LinkedIn groups and interact with people there. Be careful how promotional you get. You need to be seen as a quality resource. Be the trusted professional you want to be seen as, not the person who’s only interested in the next sale.

LinkedIn engagement is better Tuesday-Thursday, with Wednesdays from 3-5 p.m. being the best.

Course recommended: Linkedin Marketing: B2B Sales & Lead Generation From Scratch

Instagram

Even with its disadvantages, I know a lot of marketers love what they can do with Instagram. You should only post once or twice a day on Instagram, although a few people report doing well with more, even 10 times a day. Be careful about how often you post, and see what works for your audience.

Being heavily promotional is not likely to work on Instagram. As always, provide value. You can use Instagram to give a little behind the scenes look at your business as well as to promote.

Weekdays do better than weekends on Instagram, and you should post first thing in the morning. Later posts can do well going into the afternoon.

Course recommended: Instagram Marketing 2018: A Step-By-Step to 10,000 Followers

How Many to Use?

You can’t do a good job of using all social media websites, not even if you only stick to the big ones. There’s too much to do.

You’ll be better off if you can pick a couple to focus on. Get good at marketing on them.

Dividing your efforts dilutes them. There’s a balance between being available on a variety of networks and being unable to keep up.

As with any other sort of marketing you haven’t tried before, start by using just one social media site. Figure out what you’re doing. Get some fans, friends, followers, whatever they’re called. Get comfortable.

Even though each site takes a slightly different approach, you can take some of what you learn from each site and apply it to the next one while continuing with the sites you’re already on. You’re learning how to bring in business with a possibly more personal touch than other forms of marketing may have been for you.

Social media marketing isn’t something that comes naturally for everyone, but it’s a big help for bringing in traffic and business if you use it right. Give yourself some time and really pay attention to the learning process. You might find it a lot of fun as well as profitable.

Should You Automate?

Within reason, automation of your social media efforts is a great idea. It’s too hard to keep up otherwise.

I use HootSuite to automate many of my posts. It works with Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Pinterest. Its Pinterest tools are not as powerful as what Tailwind has to offer, so you may want a subscription to that as well.

What you cannot automate is the social side of social media. You need to interact with people appropriately, retweeting interesting tweets, for example, or replying to comments. Spending a few minutes on social media is a great way to handle those parts of your day when you know you have limited time to get something done.

You also need to be aware of current events when you automate. If a big event happens, make sure you don’t have any inappropriate posts going out at that time. A reference that is perfectly innocent at other times may be taken as offensive if something has gone wrong.

Do not try to automate your following of other users. Take some time to find them.

I also do not recommend using software to follow and then unfollow anyone who doesn’t follow you back. I know many bloggers worry about their following/followers ratio, but it’s really not that big of a deal in most ways. Follow people because you want to see what they post. Many social media sites now see a high rate of following and quick unfollowing as a sign of spam.

How Long Does It Take To Know Which Social Media Sites Work?

We all want fast results with social media. That would be nice, wouldn’t it? But that’s often not the way things go.

Social media results take time, just like anything else. Don’t compare yourself to the people who have tens of thousands of followers. Most of those have been at it for years.

Work on improving what you’re doing instead. You can get ideas for what works by watching the people who are successful at social media, but in the end, it’s up to you to stand out. If you’re nothing but a copycat, you’ll never stand out.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

Last Updated May 1st, 2018

20 Quick Ways to Promote Your Online Business

20 Quick Ways to Promote Your Online Business

Promotion is one of those things I’m not as good about as I should be. It’s too easy to think of it as something that takes a lot of time, but it doesn’t have to. Some promotional efforts take only a few minutes a day. It’s vital to promote your online business regularly.

1. Use Pinterest

Many bloggers and website owners have found that Pinterest can drive great traffic if used consistently. Take the time to make pinnable images for every post. Pinterest suggests images be 600×900 pixels, or a 2:3 size ratio, up to 600×1260 pixels or a 1:2.1 size ratio. They also say square images are acceptable, although everyone I’ve seen post about it finds that they don’t get great results from square images, and prefer longer ones.

Pinterest also encourages you to have multiple pinnable images for each post.This gives you several chances to attract people’s attention. Spread these images out – don’t pin them all to the same board at the same time. There are a lot of places to find great free images if you don’t want to make your own, as well as free image editing tools so that you can customize them.

Use Tailwind to schedule your pins across all of your appropriate boards. This will save you a ton of time.

2. Post on Your Facebook Page

Facebook is another easy choice. I suggest doing more than just adding the link to your post – have something to say, at least the title of the post. Some people find that the get better results without the preview of your post showing beneath it, while others say it’s better to post something and then put the link in the comment. The second one is harder on people using mobile platforms, who don’t see the link right away, however.

Facebook is always changing how much exposure your posts to your page will get, making them something of a pain to use.

3. Share on Twitter

A few words on what it’s about, a link, and you have a tweet ready to go. Make it interesting – you know how fast things move on Twitter. Remember to use appropriate hashtags. You can use Hootsuite to schedule your tweets to make this easier.

Twitter has recently become picky about sharing the same post over again on their platform, even across multiple accounts that you own. If you share your posts more than once, make sure that you change up what you say about it.

4. Have A Contest

People love contests. Figure out what you can offer as a prize, and you can have a contest on your site. Most websites do some sort of sweepstakes, where people subscribe to a newsletter or follow the site on social media to get entries.

Make sure you know the laws about contests in your area. This will vary from place to place. You don’t want to get into legal trouble when you’re just trying to promote your online business.

5. Promote Old Posts

Promote some of your older posts on your preferred social networks. You don’t have to stick to your most recent work, after all. Make sure you change what you say about it, try new images, and generally test things to see what gets you the best results. Once again, use Hootsuite so that you don’t have to spend a lot of time promoting old posts – you can automate a lot of it with tools like Hootsuite.

6. Comment on a Relevant Blog

Keep your comment relevant to the subject at hand and make it interesting. “Great post” isn’t going to drive many people to click on your site. It’s best to stick to your real name rather than keywords in the Name section of the comment form too – some blogs will delete your comment if you do the keyword thing. No extra links in your comment unless they’re really relevant and you know the blog owner won’t mind.

This can also help you develop a relationship with other bloggers in your niche. If you want to do guest posting, this is a huge help. It also improves the chances that other bloggers will choose to link to your blog as a resource in their own posts.

7. Put a Signature in Your Emails

Most email platforms will allow you to have a signature automatically added to all your emails. Take advantage of that. You can include your name, URL, and relevant social media profiles. Think about what you most want to get in front of the people you’re contacting.

8. Participate in a Relevant Forum

This can be tricky, as not all forums will allow you to have a signature line with a link. Watch those rules when you join forums, and be very careful about promoting your site outside your signature. Also make sure that you aren’t getting sucked into spending an excessive amount of time on the forum, especially if you end up reading more than participating. As with blog commenting, keep it relevant and not to promotional. Most people aren’t on the forum to read an ad from you, and excessive advertising is one of the quickest ways to get banned on a forum.

9. Respond to People

Whether you’re replying to emails, blog comments, tweets aimed at you, Facebook comments, etc., take a little time to respond to people who have contacted you. People remember things like that.

10. Write an Email Template

Got some questions you receive regularly by email? Make a template for your standard answer. This is a huge timesaver when going through your emails, plus you can really think out what your best answer is beforehand.

I have several templates I use. They have to be updated occasionally, but it’s so nice to have an easy way to answer common questions, rather than having to look up the link to information I’ve shared many times before.

11. Review Your Analytics

While this doesn’t directly impact your website promotion, it can give you ideas for posts that are getting traffic, and the sites that send it. Knowing which of your efforts have been most effective is vital.

12. Do Some Keyword Research

While it’s a good idea to do keyword research when writing blog posts, it’s helpful to do it in general too. I find some good ideas just by really digging into different keywords I’ve considered.

One of my current favorites is Answer the Public. When you put in a keyword, it will come up with all kinds of queries people have made on that subject. I like to download the CSV of the information and review it that way. Then I have it on hand the next time I want to use that keyword.

13. Look For Ways to Interlink Your Content

Linking within your site to your own content gives visitors the excuse to keep looking around your site. Make it easy for them by linking relevant posts and pages to each other.

The best way to do this is taking a little time to find relevant posts every time you write a new one. Sometimes you will also find that an older post should be linked to a new one. Think about your old posts as you write, and drop in the appropriate links.

14. Link to Other Relevant Websites

Want to be a great resource? Link to other great resources. Not only are you giving your visitors more of what you’re looking for, other site owners will see you linking to them and possibly driving traffic to them, and may return the favor.

15. Find Places to Guest Post

Writing a quality guest post should take more than a few minutes, but doing a search for places to consider can be done quickly. Search for sites in your niche that allow others to write for them. Read through the qualifications, subscribe to the RSS feed of the site or otherwise make sure you can keep up on what’s getting posted. I keep a list of sites to consider.

Do not guest post on low quality websites! This can damage your search engine rankings. Go for the best websites you can get to publish your posts. This will take patience, as some sites take several weeks or even a few months to tell you if they’ve accepted your posts.

16. Answer Questions on Q&A Sites

Sites such as Quora can be excellent for promoting your site – just don’t overdo it. Be relevant, especially when you include links to your own stuff in your answers, don’t be afraid to link to things you don’t own if they’re the right resource, and remember that you don’t have to include a link every time. You don’t get the best attention on Q&A sites by answering a lot of questions – you get it by providing the best answers.

17. Make Videos

YouTube and other video services are great for promoting your business. You probably don’t want to be purely promotional – people prefer to be entertained or informed. If what you’re saying can be boiled down to “my business is so great, my business is so great,” you won’t get many views of your videos.

It’s amazing how well some people do with videos. There are people making significant money unboxing products, playing video games, or playing with toys. I’m often amazed by what my kids like to watch on YouTube, and by how much some of these people earn with their videos.

18. Go Live

Many marketers are getting great results by using Facebook Live. People who are online right at that time can watch you and interact with you. You can answer questions directly in your video as they come up, or have someone type in answers for you.

Obviously, you must be well prepared to go live on video. I would suggest that you rehearse whenever possible. Going live is likely to be easier if you have recorded videos in the past. It’s much the same, except you can’t edit out your mistakes.

19. Make a Magnet For Your Car

A magnet with some information about your business attached to your car can help you promote your online business. Keep it quick and simple – no one has time to read a long ad while driving.

20. Celebrate an Unusual Holiday

There are “days” and “months for just about anything. April, for example, is National Humor Month, International Guitar Month, Keep America Beautiful Month, Lawn and Garden Month, Mathematics Awareness Month, National Poetry Month, National Pecan Month, National Welding Month, Records and Information Management Month, Stress Awareness Month, Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and many more. Today is Mother Goose Day, as well as May Day. Search for unusual holidays and see what comes up.

For that matter, you can make your own pretend holiday. It won’t be anything official to anyone else, but it could give you something fun to celebrate on your site each year. Make it fun enough, and people might start talking. But if you choose something like “My *$&#@$!#* Computer Crashed Day,” try not to repeat it next year.

How do you like to promote your online business? Are there any interesting promotion tactics you have tried that have worked?

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

Last Updated April 11th, 2018

15 Common Social Media Mistakes Home Business Owners Make

15 Common Social Media Mistakes Home Business Owners Make

Social media can be hugely beneficial to your home business, but you can also make huge mistakes with it. Mistakes won’t always be serious, but some may spread farther and stick around far longer than you’d like. Offend the wrong person, and your offense may be spread to many other people, and you can’t count on a net benefit from getting your name out there. As much as you can, you should avoid making serious social media mistakes.

I don’t mean little mistakes such as not posting often enough. Most people won’t notice that much if you rarely post – you just won’t get the benefits of posting regularly. I mean mistakes that get the wrong kind of attention or waste your precious time. Knowing which social media mistakes are common can help you to make a better social media plan.

Mistake #1: Friending or Following EVERYONE

A big list of friends or followers looks nice on your social media accounts, especially if they return the favor. The problem is when you aren’t focused on following the right people. If you just find a list and start following, you’ll probably follow a lot of junk accounts. They might follow you back, but they won’t become customers and will probably just clutter your feed.

Be picky. Follow people who are relevant to your business or are just plain interesting. Your list of followers won’t increase as quickly, but they’ll be higher quality and more fun to deal with.

If you’re looking for people to follow, look at who follows your competition. They might be interested in what you have to offer as well.

Mistake #2: Failing to Admit Mistakes

We all make mistakes, but if you make a mistake on social media, apologize or correct it the same way. It might be as simple as an incorrect link, or something more serious such as sharing inaccurate information. Take just a moment to correct yourself so that you aren’t just leaving the mistake out there unfixed. Admitting you’re wrong can sting, but it also can help to build trust.

Deleting your mistakes is always a possibility, but people do notice and may not approve of how you handled things if you delete something with no explanation. This is especially true if you insulted or angered people. If the mistake was merely funny, most people won’t be too upset with you.

Be willing to learn from your mistakes. We all make them.

Mistake #3: Being Rude

It’s easy to be rude online, even unintentionally. If you read much online you’ve probably seen it. There’s no tone to the written word, so a poor word choice can deeply offend someone else.

Then there’s the all too common deliberate rudeness. I don’t just mean the sort trolls use. I mean the rude way some people disagree with each other online. Name calling really isn’t necessary in an argument. You’re better off using facts and relevant opinions about the subject at hand, not harsh and possibly unsubstantiated statements about the person you disagree with.

If someone sees a social media post you’ve made as rude, don’t argue with them. You’ll do far better if you apologize and explain what you meant, being more careful in your word choice. Some people won’t accept the apology or explanation, but others will.

Mistake #4: Fail to Build Relationships

Social media is about building relationships, not pure marketing. Let your human side show at least some of the time. Reply to people. Participate in conversations. Be real.

As someone who is both shy and an introvert, this has always been a challenge for me, even on social media. It’s not always easy to join in the conversations. Do the best you can. You may find that it works for you.

Mistake #5: Ignoring Customers

If you want to look like a responsive business, you have to respond. This is really helpful in social media, which many people favor as a way to contact a business or comment about them. Keep an eye out for posts about your business name, and especially for any directed at you. Respond when you can, the sooner the better. This is doubly important when someone has a problem with your business.

Mistake #6: Using Too Many Abbreviations

Abbreviations are sometimes necessary in social media, especially on sites such as Twitter where you have a limited number of characters per post (although they now allow more characters than they used to). Unnecessary abbreviations can be annoying, KWIM? They can also obscure your meaning for those readers who don’t understand a particular abbreviation.

Mistake #7: Poor Grammar and Spelling

Most of us use poor grammar and spelling some of the time. It’s all too easy to make mistakes, especially if you have autocorrect on. Read your posts before you send them out to make sure that you’re saying what you meant to say and that it can be easily understood.

That said, don’t stress when you make mistakes in spelling or grammar. We all do it. Some people delight in calling such mistakes out, but they rarely contribute significantly to the conversation otherwise.

Mistake #8: Sharing Other People’s Posts as Your Own

People say and share some really neat things on social media, and being the originator of something interesting can get you some good attention. That doesn’t make it right to take someone else’s idea and pretending you started it.

Many social media sites make it easy to share where you got a particular item from. There’s the retweet button for Twitter, or the RT abbreviation if you want to do it your own way. There’s the share button on Facebook that shows where you got a post from. Pinterest allows you to repin interesting items. All these give credit to the source.

Most will also allow you to add your own comments when you share someone else’s post.  This way you can give credit while sharing your own thoughts.

Of course, you can share similar ideas that you’ve seen elsewhere, just make sure that the idea is better and uniquely served in your own words. You can build a great reputation online by sharing the work of other people if you do it honestly.

Mistake #9: Failing to be Relevant

This mistake happens most often either when you’re in a conversation or when there’s something big going on. Perhaps you’re participating in a social media event and you break in with something completely off topic. People aren’t going to appreciate that.

It’s also a risk of automating your social media posting. To a degree, this isn’t a terrible thing, but if it leads to inappropriate posts, you may have a problem. Think about what you’re posting if people are talking about major tragedies or other major events. If you share something online completely irrelevant to it, or worse, disrespectful to those involved, how will that make your business look? Pay attention to what’s going on before you post, and consider pausing automated posts if they might be inappropriate at a particular time.

Mistake #10: Overposting

You may only have so much time each day in which to do your social media marketing, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to share all your posts at once. You can use Hootsuite or other services to schedule your posts for later, and check on responses briefly as necessary. A flood of posts from your account doesn’t look as good as you might hope.

The right number of posts per day varies tremendously from platform to platform. Facebook Pages generally perform best if you post only a time or two per day on your page. Twitter and Pinterest can handle quite a few more posts every day.

Mistake #11: Being Overly Promotional

When you’re using social media to promote your business, of course, you have to be promotional. Just remember that the point of social media is to be social too. Not everything you post needs to be a way to earn money for yourself. Sometimes you should post just to be a person or a good resource.

Have a little fun. If getting personal is appropriate to your business style, get personal. A look behind the scenes of your business can be a great way to bring in an appropriate amount of personality to your social media. Discuss your work routine. Share a picture of your home office. You can even share a little about your family or pets if that suits your business personality.

Mistake #12: Getting Too Personal

The personal touch is a good thing for many businesses, especially when you’re the only person running it, but there should be limits. Keep your personal and business profiles separate. This allows you to share things with family and friends that you don’t need to be associated with your business. You can still share appropriate personal things on your business accounts, depending on the kind of personality you want to show.

This is especially helpful on sites like Facebook where you’re more limited in the number of friends you can have on your personal page. It’s better to have people interested in your business follow your business page.

It can be difficult balancing the personal side of your social media sometimes. Remember that you aren’t besties with your social media followers, at least not most of them. They do not want to read about all the details of your personal life. Occasional anecdotes are fine.

Mistake #13: Expecting Too Much

Social media most likely won’t be the making of your home business. It can help build traffic, it can help build your reputation, but it’s just one factor in your business, not a miracle.

It takes time to build a loyal social media following. It’s a lot of work, and then the platform changes the rules and your posts may not reach your followers as well as they used to. I’m looking at you, Facebook, but you aren’t the only one!

Keep working on your preferred social media platforms if you want to see results. Despite what some people say, we won’t all see amazing results in just a few months. You will need to test different things to figure out what works best for your home business.

Expecting too much also comes in the form of trying too hard to go viral on social media. Constantly trying to create the next big thing annoys your audience. Viral is not a constant thing.

Mistake #14: Failing to Make it Easy to Share Your Content

Make sure it’s easy to share the content you have on your website. People will tweet, like, pin and otherwise share interesting content without buttons to make it easier, but more people will do so if it’s easy. Social sites usually provide code to make this easy, and there are plugins for WordPress if you have a blog, such as Shareaholic. Most will keep count of how many times your content has been shared, a wonderful social proof for your website.

Make it easy on yourself too. Use social media tools such as HootSuite, IFTTT, and the WP to Twitter plugin to automate parts of your social media marketing efforts. You still need to get in there and interact with others, but these will help you handle the routine side of things.

Mistake #15: Using Too Many Social Media Websites

There are a lot of social media websites out there. You can’t participate on all of them, and you really shouldn’t try to. It will take too much time and too many resources to do so.

Instead, focus on the bigger ones and any specific to your niche. Have a social media strategy. See where you get the most return for your efforts. If one site isn’t working for you, another may work better. Be picky. You only have so much time you should be spending on your social media efforts. Use it wisely.

Don’t let your social media mistakes keep you from using social media to market your blog or business. Making mistakes is a part of the learning process. As you figure out what works for you on each platform, you will get better results that will make it worthwhile.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

Last Updated November 6th, 2017

Vital Steps To Create A Social Media Marketing Plan

Vital Steps To Create A Social Media Marketing Plan

Social media can be a good source of traffic for your website. You can use it for free, or pay for ads to speed things up. The one thing it definitely requires, however, is time. Done right, it’s more than worth the time. Done wrong, a time waster. You need a solid social media marketing plan to help you save time and do things right.

A social media marketing plan will help you decide what you want to do with your social media accounts. When do you post? What tools do you use? Who is looking at your social media posts anyhow? It’s time to start planning. Get things moving, and don’t be afraid to make mistakes.

Step 1: Where Are You Now?

Before you can set goals, you need to know where you are now with your social media accounts. Which ones are already doing pretty well for you? Which ones need improvement? Are there any that really aren’t worth your time, at least for now?

Consider the overall look of your social media accounts. Are they consistent with your brand?

When you run a home business, you probably want a more personal look. Many home business owners use a photo of themselves for a profile photo. The best alternative is to use your logo, or something clearly based on it.

Create a spreadsheet of all your business social media accounts. I have a basic one here to get you started. Keep using this to track growth and to consider which networks are doing the most for your business.

social media accounts

If you’ve considered adding in another social media account, now is as good a time as any. Set up the basic account now. As you progress through making your social media marketing plan, you’ll get it set up properly.

Step 2: Check Out Your Competitors

You should also look at what your competitors are doing. Don’t stress too hard about their numbers, especially if they’ve been using social media a lot longer than you have. You won’t catch up overnight.

Look more at the kinds of things they share, images they use, and what they write. You aren’t going to copy them, but you can get some ideas as to what works for them. You can adapt some of these things to your own use. Many networks make it easy for you to see how many likes, comments, and shares some else’s posts have.

You don’t want to copy them, and you don’t want to steal from them. You only want to see the kind of content that does well in your niche. This will give you some ideas for things you can share that may also do well.

social media phone

Step 3: Who Is Your Target Audience?

If you don’t know who you’re targeting, it’s very hard to figure out what you should be creating and sharing. This is something you should know for your home business in general, not just for your social media marketing plan. Still, it bears repeating. Know your target audience. This may include:

  • Gender
  • Age
  • Income
  • Location
  • Job
  • Preferred social media networks
  • What they need that you can provide

Step 4: What’s Your Purpose?

Whether you call it a mission statement or a purpose, know what you mean to use each social media account for. Some networks are better for interaction with potential customers and clients, for example. Others are better for driving traffic. Your purpose will guide your social media marketing plan.

In each case, decide how you can best use that network to help your customers and build your business. People are more likely to follow you on social media if they know what to expect from you. They love experts.

This doesn’t mean you can’t get a little personal. Being personal can be very good for a home business. It emphasizes that there’s a real person behind the account. Make sure that the personal side is also sufficiently professional, and not too offensive. It’s usually a good idea to stay away from controversial subjects such as religion and politics unless that’s what your website is about.

Step 5: What Is Social Media Success?

The success of your social media marketing plan can be hard to define. A huge following sounds wonderful, but what does it really get you? Traffic to your website is good, but only if it converts in some form. Sales and subscriptions are often your most important measures.

Shares are also important to measure because they go beyond the people following your account. Shares are what spread the word. You want people talking about what you share on social media, even if it wasn’t linked directly to your website. Shares that take people to your website are good, but ones that bring attention to your social media account can be a help as well.

Generally speaking, what happens on your social media account is only a part of the picture when you consider its success. It needs to have a positive impact on your business as a whole.


Hootsuite - Social Relationship Platform

Step 6: Optimize Your Profiles

Your social media profiles aren’t only there for people to look at. They can help with the search engine optimization of your social media account. It should be clear that each account is associated with your website.

You should know what size images do best on each social network. Hootsuite has a good guide for this. Use the right size image for each of your profiles, and keep image sizes in mind for your posts. This is one time that size matters.

What works best for each network varies. Facebook, for example, has a lot of information you can fill out about your business. Pinterest has a fairly simple profile area, but you will also need to optimize each board, choosing good names and descriptions for each one.

Step 7: Follow Your Target Audience

Social media should be just that, social. If you want to know what your ideal customers like to see on social media, follow them, at least on the social networks that make this possible. Don’t follow random people on Facebook, for example.

Look for people who follow your competitors for a start. Follow them, and they might follow you. If they don’t, you can still see what they’re sharing, which gives you a better idea as to what they like.

Don’t spend a lot of time on unfollowing people who don’t follow you back. There are times when unfollowing people is a good idea, but that’s not because they aren’t following you. Unfollow because, for one reason or another, you don’t find their posts of interest to you anymore.

On sites such as Facebook, it’s easier to find your target audience in already established Facebook groups. Many will not allow you to post links back to your website or even your business’s Facebook page or group. You can learn a lot about your audience in these groups even when you can’t advertise directly. Watch your balance between wasting your time and learning.

social networking

Step 8: Plan Your Social Media Posts

It’s time to start planning out your social media posts. The style of posts will vary from site to site, as will the best number of posts per day. This is the largest part of your social media marketing plan.

Twitter and Pinterest, for example, are generally accepting of a large number of posts per day. Facebook and Instagram, not so much. Test how things go on your own account, however. Just because someone else says one post a day is enough on an account doesn’t mean they’re right for yours.

Over time, you will be testing your accounts to learn what times are best to post as well as how often. Coschedule has a good post on the best times to post on various social media websites. The times are based on the East Coast of the United States, and you may need to adjust based on where your target audience is located.

Quality should be a major focus when creating your posts. Don’t post any old thing just to fill a slot. The more interesting and/or useful your posts are to your audience, the better chance it will have of success.

Mix it up! Try using images, video, text posts, infographics, free products, links to specials, industry news, curated content, and so forth.

Don’t make it all about selling to your audience. Making money may be your goal, but that’s not what will build your following most of the time. Be interesting.

Step 9: Use A Scheduling Tool

I could not get by without scheduling my social media. I use Hootsuite. It allows me to schedule my social media for several different sites, including Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. This makes it a lot easier to keep up on the job.

Tailwind is the best for scheduling pins on Pinterest. You can do that with Hootsuite now as well, but Tailwind provides excellent tools to make it a very smooth process.

I also use the Revive Old Posts WordPress plugin. This automatically shares old posts from my blog. You can also tell it to skip certain categories and posts. That’s a big help when a blog post is seasonal or short term. You don’t want these things popping up in your social media when they aren’t relevant.

Step 10: Be Social

Don’t rely 100% on automation with your social media. It’s called social for a reason. Get on those sites. Like other posts. Share them. Comment. Interaction is key to many of these sites. It helps people see your account even if you have hardly any followers.

Step 11: Use Social Proof

I like using the Shareaholic plugin on my blog. Seeing that a lot of other people have shared a particular post can encourage other people to do likewise. You want to take advantage of the social proof this gives you.

When your accounts are new, with few followers and shares, the social proof won’t be much. You still want it. Your numbers will grow in time if you’re doing things right.
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Step 12: Review Your Results

Reviewing your social media results is an ongoing process. You can’t just do it once.

This is where you learn what worked and what didn’t. It’s not going to be as clear cut as whether you got sales out of a particular post.

Hootsuite’s analytics can give you a pretty good idea as to which posts worked best for you. Don’t assume that a post that didn’t go anywhere is a failure – it could also be the time of day you shared it, or something else happening in the world that kept people from noticing your post. A consistent failure of a particular type of post, of course, will be a good sign that something’s not right with it.

Also use Google Analytics to see where your traffic is coming from. People may be sharing your content on their social media directly from your site, which won’t show on Hootsuite. You might be surprised by things that catch on that you weren’t trying for.

You may find that you get the best interaction on your posts at different times than other people do. Pay attention to the results you get, not what other people say are good. Odds are that their target audience is somewhat different from yours. The results of others are a starting point, not a solid rule.

Can You Save Time On Your Social Media Marketing Plan?

All of this looks like a lot of work. That’s because it is. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to save time with your social media marketing plan.

Using a scheduling tool, as mentioned above, is vital. Your social media efforts will take too much of your work time otherwise. But there’s still more you can do.

I keep a spreadsheet of content I want to share regularly, for example. It’s set up so I can easily import it into Hootsuite. This greatly speeds things up for scheduling.

You will also want to keep a list of things you want to post in the future but haven’t created yet. Brainstorm a bunch of ideas all at once. Even if you can’t use them all right away, the idea is there, waiting for you until you’re ready for it.

Repurposing content is a big time saver as well. A blog post may be adapted into a video or podcast. You can make an image with particularly useful points from a post, and share it on your accounts. You can even change the image on your post to freshen it up.

Using stock photos is a lot faster than creating your own much of the time. There are a lot of sites with stock images you can use for free. Be very careful that you understand the terms of use on any image before you use it.

One of the most important time savers with social media marketing is to plan when and how you are going to use it. Automation allows you to post even when you aren’t on the site, or even awake. Don’t spend too much of your working day on your social media once everything is scheduled out.

Fifteen minutes or so at a time is plenty to check your social media sites, interact as necessary, and get onto more productive things. Pick one or two times a day to check on your social media, and stick to your limits. The social media vortex can suck up too much of your time if you let it.

Reconsider What Isn’t Working In Your Social Media Marketing Plan

Just because you start using a social media site doesn’t mean you have to keep using it forever. If you find that it consistently fails to give you good results, ease up on it or leave it entirely. Your marketing energies should always be focused on things that work. The more time you spend on things that aren’t working, the less you have for the things that are.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

Last Updated July 26th, 2010

How Do You Use Twitter When Social Media Don’t Come Naturally to You?

I’ve never been the most social of people. Working at home suits me well because of that, in part. This makes dealing with social media sites such as Twitter challenging for me. It’s hard to know what to say sometimes.

This is a problem for a lot of people. But you can work with these sites if you come up with a good routine.

Remember the Social in Social Media

The first thing to remember is that these are social websites. Yes, I know that’s a big part of the problem. It’s also a part of the solution.

You see, people like it when you retweet them. They like it when you respond.

You can’t be too random about this, and I really do not suggest automating this, not that it would be easy to automate anyhow.

Set up a schedule for how many times a day you want to look for someone to reply to or retweet. You don’t want this to take up too much of your day or you won’t get other kinds of online marketing or business work done, but you should set aside some time. Just look through the tweets you have recently received from others and see what gets your attention.

You should pay attention for a little while after you reply to someone in case they reply back, of course. There can be some great networking going on with these sites, but you’ll miss out if you never reply back to people.

Plan Topics for Your Tweets

I like to keep my tweeting natural and not plan out specific tweets in advance, although some people do that. Instead I figure out what topics I should be tweeting about for each account, and if I come across something, it can be tweeted. It can be things I’m working on, things the kids are up to, questions I have, and so forth.

If you want to schedule a tweet, you can do that with sites such as HootSuite. This has its uses, but I don’t like it so well for regular tweets. It can be handy if you’re posting something and want to make sure it’s seen at the right time in different time zones.

Tweet Your Blog Posts

One thing I do like to schedule is the tweeting of my blog posts. It makes sense to me. You can do this manually as well, but sites such as TwitterFeed make it easy to schedule them.

If you’re lucky, your blog post will get some Twitter attention, maybe some retweets and visitors to your site.

One thing that is important is to remember that tweeting your blog posts is not the only thing you should be doing on Twitter. You’re not being very social if you do. On the other hand, if that’s all you want to do with that particular account, people will catch on and decide for themselves if you are worth following. Some do use Twitter to replace following RSS feeds in a reader.

Follow Others

There are a few ways to get followers, but it starts with following others.

Find people who share your interests and tweet interesting things. Not only will this make Twitter more fun for you, it makes it easier to find things to reply to or retweet. Why follow anyone who bores you? You can use Twitter directories to find people with similar interests.

You’ll get new followers pretty much no matter what you do yourself. Some say follow all of them back, I disagree. I follow back only if they’re interesting. Otherwise I’d be following far too many spam accounts to see what the real people are doing.

Some also say to unfollow anyone who doesn’t follow you back. Once again, I disagree. I’ll follow those who find me interesting, no matter if they choose to follow me or not. We all have our own criteria for what makes a good Twitter experience. Following people is a great way to get them to at least look at your Twitter account, and so it can increase the number of followers you have.

There are people who like to direct messsage people who follow them. That’s not a recommendation I would give, doubly so if it’s done automatically, triply if you DM them with an ad for your site or product. Send direct messages when you have something to say privately. Doing it wrong irritates people and can get you labeled as a spammer.

Forget the Numbers Game… to an Extent

Success in social media is in large part a numbers game, but don’t focus just on your numbers. Following just anyone isn’t going to help you. Following people who might be in your target market may help you. As many other things, quality beats quantity.

You want to build your numbers up some by following others, but your best results will come from being interesting. Even when this doesn’t come naturally to you, it must be your focus.

You don’t need to be an absolute chatterbox to use Twitter. Just tweet helpful and interesting things. This sounds easier than it is, but once you build the habits it’s not too difficult. You’re a real person and that should come across in your tweets.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

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Disclosure: Home with the Kids is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. I also review or mention products for which I may receive compensation from other sources. All opinions are my own.