Getting started on social media doesn't have to be hard... especially when you learn from the best. In this candid interview, I chat with author and consultant Katie Lance.
I've known Katie for a handful of years, and during that time, I've watched her launch and build a booming business. As a social media and content strategist, Katie isn't one to preach from a pulpit. She's a hands-on, practice what you preach, speaker and trainer.
That is only one of the reasons why I respect all that she does. And why I asked her to sit down with me to discuss social media, growing a business, and the key to success.
Her book, “Get Social Smart: How to Hone Your Social Media Strategy,” is the basis of our conversation. Listen in or read through our talk, and then grab your copy over on Amazon.
1. Be intentional with your strategy (from day 1)
There's a tendency for many people to develop the hustle mindset. It's the belief that if you run faster, create more, share more, do more... it will translate into success.
While there's nothing wrong with hustle, the problem for many is blind hustle. Blindly running after social media with no goals in mind. But I'm a firm believer in getting smarter about how you're using social media.
Rather than throwing content at a wall and hoping it sticks, you're strategic. You know:
- What you’re sharing
- Why you're sharing it, and
- Where you're sharing it
There's no question, no excuses, and no inconsistencies. And Katie takes that same approach. If you're intentional from day 1, you stop running and start taking actionable steps towards results.
For a lot of business owners there’s overwhelm when it comes to getting started on social media. With so many different platforms, where do you begin? I’m a big believer in that you don’t have to be everywhere. Find one or two platforms that you really enjoy - that your customers are on.
The second part of intention is developing a strategy. Don't just put content out there for the sake of content.
Times have changed in a very short amount of time. We fed into that craze of “create more” and “get more done.” But now we’ve come full circle and are back to be intentional, know your audience, and know what they’re looking for.
You can still curate great content. You can still put great content out there, but we’ve finally come back to that whole “less is more” mentality.
Less is more means finding a balance between awareness, engagement and ROI. ~ Katie Lance
2. Stay focused on the plan
Where you place your focus and on what platform is different for every business. But one thing is the same. Staying committed to your plan is critical.
Katie explains..."Most people give up too quickly, but you really have to be consistent. You can’t measure anything without at least three months of trying it consistently.‘
Whether it’s Facebook ads, blog content, or email marketing. Whatever type of marketing you’re doing, it takes at least 3 months - sometimes more than 6 months to see if it’s working.
It’s so critical for anybody managing social media that you set your expectations that you realize results could take three months or longer. You’ve got to commit to doing it over and over.
It’s not enough to share content, and hope you'll create a #socialmedia community. ~ Katie Lance
Get focused on the plan and stay with it... no matter what it takes.
3. Accentuate your strengths
If you haven't heard me say it before, let me mention it again. If you're growing a business, you MUST focus on and accentuate your strengths. Then give away all the rest. I surround myself every day with people better, smarter, and more skilled than me.
And with good reason. They help me get more done by allowing me to focus on what I do best. Katie agrees...Sometimes as a business owner, we’re afraid to get an assistant or an editor or copywriter to help us do the heavy lifting because it’s money out of our pocket.
But I believe you should do what you do best. Don’t be afraid to get that help. Not outsourcing it, or sending and forgetting, but getting some help and putting some time in your schedule, even if it’s just a few minutes in the morning.
There is that initial hurdle of making it a habit. Oftentimes, we think of social media as something we’ve got to do, but we don’t think of it as any other type of appointment, and it is - a commitment to yourself and to your business.
4. Design a strategy around your audience
The first step is figuring out the right platforms:
- Where do you want to be?
- What’s getting you the most return?
Don’t be afraid to try things out. Even if you feel like you don’t know what you’re doing, just try it out. Here's what Katie suggests you do next: Send an email to your database or your customers and ask them “We’re working on our social media strategy. Where do you spend the most time? Figure out where your customers are.
Then, think about what type of content you could create that can tell a story of what it’s like to work with you. Do you like to write? If you do, then blogging might be for you. If you hate writing but you can talk, maybe it’s Facebook Live. Start to think about content and the type of content you'll share.
And finally, take out a notebook and a pen, and start to brainstorm. What are the questions people ask you all the time? Those little things can turn into a Facebook Live, a video, or a blog post. Start there, and if you’re not sure, put a post out on Facebook. Ask: What are your biggest questions (fill in the blank)?
5. Create better content... effortlessly
It's easy to get caught up in the idea that content has to be a huge production. In reality, what matters is that it connects with the right people.
But it can be a struggle to know what to post for the audience you’re trying to connect with, and how to find balance in the type of content that you’re posting. That's why Katie created the content grid.
I felt that many people would get stuck on what to post on Facebook, what to say, what to do. It’s a simple spreadsheet that gives you about 30 ideas of what to post. Any business owner can create a content grid.
The way we think about it: What are the 4-5 themes of your business? And within those themes, there are questions. A content grid is simply 30 or so ideas of what to post, or what content you can create.
6. Find the right mix of content
Think through how you use each platform and where that personal part intersects. Even if you’re a very private person, there are ways to share what's important to you. You might share things like a beautiful sunset…
Look for those opportunities where it makes sense. There’s a lot of benefit in giving people a behind-the-scenes into what you do. It amplifies your message, just in a different way. There’s also a lot to be said for creating those intimate relationships where you feel like you know that person. It’s those moments that really connect us as human beings.
And as Katie points out, it also gives people something to hold on to."Tell that story about your business. You’ll have to find your comfort level and determine what you’re willing to share. Once you get clear on your boundaries, it makes content creation so much easier. Force yourself to get out there and do it over and over. Same with video. There is nothing comfortable about getting in front of a camera."
7. Integrate video today (not tomorrow)
When it comes to video, you will always find an excuse not to do it. That's why you need to create an atmosphere conducive to video. And as Katie has shown in her own business, that can be anywhere. The key is to just get started.
Get yourself in a place that’s quiet, where there are no distractions. Get in your own space and practice. When it comes to the actual video, think about the beginning, middle, and end. My advice is always: tell what you are going to tell them and wrap it up - have a call to action.
You’ve also got to have energy. Get fired up and do it! Once it’s done, know that it will never be perfect. But just post it!
When you come from a place of sharing, not selling, it comes back to you tenfold. When people are looking for what you do, they want to work with you specifically. Lean into who you are and you’re going to attract people who resonate with that. You don’t have to attract everybody.
8. Track the Metrics That Matter
It’s different for every business owner, but I always say: start with the free tools. You can’t really track something until you know where you’re at, and Facebook Insights is a great place to start. It can give you a sense of your demographics, where you reach and engagement are at.
Twitter has some great free analytics as well. Instagram for business too. Start with where you’re are. Evaluate what you have.The challenge with tracking is: you’re looking at reach, you’re looking at engagement, but how does that translate into business?
For a lot of businesses, one of the best things you can do is invest in landing pages, especially if you’re doing Facebook ads or making video or blogging.
A landing page, especially for a small or medium-sized business, is relatively low-cost and relatively simple to set up. It’s a great way to track: are people downloading my free ebook? Are people signing up for my email list?
Landing pages can make a huge difference. They’re pretty straightforward and a great place to start.
9. Use automation to stay consistent
No matter who you are or the size of your business, automation can save you time, money, and effort. Use automation to get more done in less time. And most of all, use it to stay consistent.
Katie has been a Hootsuite user for years. She uses it primarily for Twitter, to schedule some of her tweets. What are a few other tools she loves to use? (Hint: I've written about them a lot on this blog!)
I go into a kind of rhythm: I use Buzzsumo.com to curate great content. Although curating content can’t be the end-all-be-all, it’s still an important piece of strategy.
So, I use Buzzsumo to find hot trending content and schedule that to Twitter. It creates a balance between being in the moment and still scheduling content.
I also love using Hootsuite because I have lists set up: lists with media, lists with clients, with potential clients, lists based on different interests or content I want to create. We also use it for searches and engagement. It helps tremendously with setting up some safe searches within Hootsuite.
I’ve also been using Meet Edgar. That was created by Laura Roeder, who I’ve known for years. It's a great tool, especially for someone who has already created a lot of content. We use it to pre-populate our blog posts and some of our other older content that’s still relevant.
I don’t do too much automation on Facebook. We do a little bit with our Facebook groups. I prefer to use Facebook’s scheduling tool. I go in once or twice a week and schedule out some of our content.I also use some apps on my phone to create content. I use Wordswag. It’s one of my favorite apps. And I use Animoto.
Whether you're a seasoned social marketer or just getting started, there's a lot to learn from Katie. Make sure to tweet her, say hello, and let her know how much you appreciated all that she shared.
As you know, success on social media doesn't happen by accident. It's planned for. Putting a strategy in place will fast-track your efforts and keep your focus on what matters most - not what matters right now.
About Rebekah Radice
Rebekah Radice, co-founder of BRIL.LA, has traded narcissism for purpose. When not driving growth, you'll find her tricking family into thinking she's Emeril Lagasse - likely covered in marinara. The spotlight was fun, but impact is better. These days she's using 20+ years of brand brilliance for good.