There are lots and lots of social media channels out there, and people use each of them in different ways. If you tried to post to all the social networks without automating everything, you wouldn’t have time left in the day to do much else.
Social media automation is bad. I’ve been guilty of it in the past, but the truth is, most of my close friends and family don’t care about the web events I promote, and my peers and colleagues don’t really care about pictures of a meal out with my family.
In order to get a handle on social media, I have created my own personal social media strategy, and I since doing that, I now find social media to be fun, inspiring and helpful, whereas in the past I have found it divisive, and time-consuming.
How to Get Started with your Personal Social Media Strategy
In order to get started with your social media strategy, you need to set a baseline. For me this meant setting the following ground rules:
Decide What you Want to Communicate
Do you have a message? Are you selling something? Are you aiming to build personal relationships? Find a Job? Are you simply using Social Media to simply waste time? Is it all of these things? What is it that you want to communicate?
Some social media channels are better suited to certain types of content than others. You most certainly wouldn’t share photos of your children on LinkedIn, or attempt to find a job on Snapchat.
Take the time to decide what it is you want to achieve from social media. It may well be more than one thing. For me it was the following:
- Create new and strengthen existing personal relationships
- Promote the work I do, both in the community and as part of my agency (where possible create sale funnels)
- Build a personal brand
You can also do some of these things at the same time.
Also note that even though I am talking about managing personal social media, I enjoy my work (both community and agency based), and it is a big part of what I do and therefore part of my personal brand.
Choose a Handful of Social Networks
There are many social networks out there and there is simply not enough time to manage them all. I have taken the decision to never automate social media, so I needed to pick a few.
Based on the reasons I outlined earlier, I picked the following social networks:
Also as a bit of an experiment, I may from time to time use YouTube.
Set a Baseline (Unfriend/Unfollow)
You need to unfollow and unfriend pretty much everyone. Don’t worry, if you need a safety net you can always add people back later.
You are not losing connections, people will continue to follow you, and react to your content, but just for now you are not going to be following them.
Unfollow absolutely everyone unless:
- You have a legitimate (non toxic) relationship in real life. Ideally you will have met that person within the last year
- That person is a source of inspiration to you (personally and/or professionally)
- They provide you with goods or services on a regular basis
- Toxic people
- People that you don’t know
- People that you don’t really know anymore (friends and family who you no longer have a strong connection with)*
- If you are uncertain or conflicted about unfollowing them
*Remember your friends and family are not gone forever just because you have unfollowed them, if you are conflicted about it, reach out to them, pick up that phone, make that connection stronger.
You are doing this to set a baseline. You are going to fill your social networks with truly inspirational and enjoyable messages. As you make new connections in real life, reignite or strengthen old connections, you are going to integrate those people into your social networks.
Never Automate (Ever)
Not to be confused with scheduling. I think scheduled content is fine, as it makes sure that the content you wrote at 5am gets shared at a time when people might see it.
Never automatically post content from one social network to another. It does not get your message across as an automated share will not be tailored for audience that you are sharing it to. In short, it comes across as spammy.
Even ‘retweeting’ is a little spammy. Why are you retweeting the message? What value does it add?
I have been very guilty of hitting ‘retweet’ a little too often (or the equivalent in other social networks). No longer will I do this, instead I will ‘share’ with a comment as to why I feel that it is worth sharing. At a minimum I will reply to the thread of the message I enjoyed.
Always Deliver Value
If you are not delivering value in your social media messages, what are you doing?
If the thing you are sharing does not match up to your communication aims, don’t share it.
For instance, before I share any content, from now on I will ask myself the following questions:
Does this message help me build or strengthen personal relationships in a valuable way?
If I am sharing a photo album containing pictures of me and the persons I am sharing the content with from a recent event, this could well build and strengthen those relationships, and it will inspire conversation about something that we have in common.
The recipients may value those experiences, value the relationship, and also appreciate some keepsakes of the event they attended in the form of some photos.
Does this message help to promote my personal or work ‘thing’ in a way that is valuable to others?
A link to a conference that says ‘I am running a conference here is the link’ is not really valuable to anyone (and I have certainly done this in the past). Instead say why you are doing that thing you are doing, aim to inspire or educate others, give them some personal or professional advice, or just make them laugh (or cry, depending on the ‘thing’).
At the end of the day, you are aiming for an emotive response. When people emote, they feel a connection to you and/or the ‘thing’ you are promoting.
This is why programmes such as X-Factor love telling you a ‘sob story’.
Does the message help to promote my personal brand in a way that is valuable to others?
I’m not talking about personal ‘branding’ (logo and design), although this is a good way to set an initial emotive response.
Your personal brand is everything you do and the way you go about doing it.
Building personal and professional relationships in a valuable way (as described in the previous two ‘thoughts’) is your personal brand.
Try to Include a Call To Action
The aim of each piece of content should aim to get the reader to do ‘something’.
If you are building personal relationships, it could be that you want the people you sent the message to, to reply to you, or to view the photo album you just shared.
If you are trying to promote or sell something (seek engagement for a community project or sell them something work related), it can be much softer than a ‘hard sell’. You may want them to follow you, or to join your mailing list. This is the long-term sales funnel approach, whereby they may not be ready to be your customers now, but if you keep providing value, they may become your customers later.
How I use Social Networks
Earlier on in this post I set out a bunch of communication goals, and the social networks I have opted to use. Here is where I describe how each choice of social network helps me fulfill one of these goals.
In the past I have not enjoyed using Facebook. But Facebook is the defacto home of personal relationships online. I bet even some of your techno-phobic relatives use Facebook.
This is where I will build and strengthen existing personal relationships with friends (including peers) and family. It should only be used to reinforce real world relationships (IE: people who you have met in person).
There are always exceptions though, and although the majority of content I share on Facebook will be limited and kept private to specific groups of people, there may be one or two posts suitable for all connections and/or the public domain. An example of this could be a personal achievement where the story behind it may inspire others.
If I were a Snapchat user, I would use this social network in a very similar way.
Up until now, I have rarely posted anything on LinkedIn, but LinkedIn is the place to both create new and strengthen existing professional relationships.
Posts to this network should inspire both peers and potential customers alike. They be value driven topics such as productivity, achieving goals, making customers happy, and things that really benefit your target market.
LinkedIn posts should always aim to have a call to action.
Twitter helps to create new and strengthen existing personal and professional relationships, however it can be very specific (as certain types of people will value your content and follow you), and also at the same time wildly unpredictable (everything is public, and you never know who will respond to something you post).
The key thing with Twitter, is post things to all groups, but whatever you post, make sure it is valuable and leans towards a call to action (a follow, a retweet, a link visit).
YouTube is a bit experimental for me. I use it to create privately embedded videos that I use in blog posts, and share with clients and colleagues (for example, training videos).
I do however speak at events from time to time, and I would like to start using YouTube to host recordings of my presentations, this will reinforce the content for people who were there, and introduce new people to my content.
All Strategies Evolve
This is the first draft of my personal social media strategy, and in six months time it may be completely different.
You should periodically review who you follow, re-baseline who you follow if you feel the need, and change what you need to communicate, and even the platform if necessary.
Finally, experiment. Feel free to use other social networks, but do it consciously. Be mindful of what you are sharing, and who your potential audience is. Remember to only share things that provide value to your audience, and make them want to follow that call to action.