I know what you’re thinking. Resolutions? January is almost over, you’ve already broken half your promises to yourself, and the last thing you need is another resolution you won’t keep.
I hear you, but I disagree. Yes, January is almost over. Yes, many of us have fallen off the wagon as far as diet, exercise and limiting our smartphone use goes. But that doesn’t mean resolutions are pointless. In fact, it’s my belief that the end of January is actually the best time to set goals, especially when they’re related to your business or brand.
At this point in the year, the holiday rush is behind us. We’ve settled back into our routines, and we have a better idea of where we stand and where we want to go. Plus, there are still 11 months left to embark on new projects and big adventures. January may be over, but 2016 is just beginning.
Which means one thing: Now is the perfect time to make a New Year’s resolution. To help you get started, the team at Sage Island has rounded up some great ideas for revamping and expanding your social media marketing efforts. Why social media? Because it’s a fast-paced, constantly changing field that can have a huge impact on your business, and because the new year is an ideal time to tweak your strategy and ensure success.
- Create a content calendar. As Benjamin Franklin once said, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” To make sure your social media platforms are firing on all cylinders, a content calendar is key. This can be as simple or complex as you want, but it should include special events, holidays, meaningful dates within your industry, blog post topics, and if you’re really ambitious, pre-written tweets, Facebook posts and Instagram images. Having a plan will ensure your message stays on topic, that your tone is professional, and that you’re never stuck scrambling with sub-par content at the last minute.
- Schedule a photo shoot. When it comes to images, a picture truly is worth a thousand words, especially on social media. A recent study found that content with relevant images gets 94 percent more views that content without. To maximize this effect, don’t rely on clip art or stock photography. Instead, schedule an afternoon to take original photos of your products. Lifestyle imagery is key to a great Instagram account, but it’s also effective on Facebook and Twitter. Pay attention to things like composition, lighting and color, and consider taking a photography course to improve your skills.
- Join a new social media platform – just for fun. Sometimes it feels like a new platform debuts every hour, and it’s pretty much impossible to join them all. Instead of creating a hundred new accounts and then burning out, choose one that looks interesting, and join it purely for fun. This is a pressure-free way to experiment, cut loose and find out for yourself if the platform is a good fit for your business or brand. (We recommend Snapchat, which is huge, and Peach, which debuted a few weeks ago.)
- Work smarter, not harder. At Sage Island, we manage many social media accounts for a wide range of clients. The reason we’re able to do this effectively is thanks to a talented team of creative digital marketing professionals, and our favorite time management tools. Apps like TweetDeck and Latergram are an essential part of our process, especially when it comes to scheduling posts ahead of time. Check them out, and see how they can transform your online experience.
- Be active and engaged. Many brands and businesses are so focused on the “media” part of things, they forget that the “social” part is just as important. To put it another way, if you’re treating social media like a megaphone, you’re doing it wrong. Don’t just toot your own horn. Take time to respond to your followers and fans. Double tap their Instagram photos. Retweet their posts. Respond to their questions and concerns. Each platform is different, so tailor your behavior accordingly and make sure you’re giving just as much as you’re getting.
- Experiment with paid advertising. Facebook, Twitter and now even Instagram and Pinterest have rolled out paid advertising opportunities over the last year. From “like” campaigns on Facebook to promoted tweets on Twitter, putting a budget behind your social media efforts can help your best posts rise to the top. And thanks to increasingly complex and effective targeting options, it’s easier than ever to reach the people you want.
- Change your passwords. Last week, SplashData released their annual “Worst Passwords List,” and it wasn’t pretty. We’re talking “123456” and “password” sitting at the top of list. Friends of the Internet, we can do better. We MUST do better. Your social media presence isn’t a game; it’s your reputation, your brand, your identity, and a direct line to some of your most active and engaged clients and customers. Protect them and yourself, and update your passwords immediately.
- Switch out your profile picture and cover photos. Human beings are visual creatures, and we love judging books by their covers. Make sure your profile photos are recent and high quality, and update your cover photos on Facebook and Twitter so they’re timely, relevant and visually appealing.
- Cut back on the noise. Often, the first thing we do when we join a new platform is go on a following frenzy. We add anyone who is suggested to us, and we follow anyone who expresses even a passing interest in what we’re doing. This can result in a noisy, clunky and fruitless experience, especially when those voices drown out the people and places you most want to hear from. Use a website such as Unfollowers and cull the accounts you like and follow. This tool is great because you can choose to unfollow different categories of people, such as those that are inactive or aren’t following you back. The result? A community of people you actually care about.
- Be consistent. I can’t stress this last point enough – if your social media marketing efforts are going to help your business, you must post consistently. While every business will be different, the minimums we recommend are three times a week on Facebook, twice a week on Instagram, and daily on Twitter. (This is where content calendars and scheduling apps will save your life!) If you find that a certain platform isn’t for you, you can delete your account. It’s better to have no presence than one that’s been silent for months.
I hope these tips inspire you to make social media marketing a priority in 2016. If you need help implementing any of these changes or reaching your goals, contact Sage Island
and learn how our team can help. Together we’ll make 2016 your most successful year yet.
Mike Duncan co-founded Sage Island in 1997 and since then has evolved the agency’s scope to include marketing strategy, creative design, technical development and a wide range of digital marketing services. With an integrated approach that leverages the power and measurability of the internet, the savvy Sage Island team develops strategies, builds brands, writes killer copy and delivers to clients all over the world. And they have an awesome time doing it. Sage’s collaborative working environment keeps creativity and innovation at the heart of the concept. With a 17-year history in Wilmington and beyond, Sage Island shows no signs of slowing down. To learn how Sage Island can grow your business, check us out at www.sageisland.com. To stay updated on the latest in digital marketing, follow Sage Island on Facebook at www.facebook.com/SageIsland, and on Twitter at twitter.com/SageIsland.