Monday, 9 March 2015

Tips for a Social Media Editor Starting Out

It can be tough starting out as a Social Media Content Editor (that's what I do), particularly if the whole concept of social is new to your business.

That's the situation in which I found myself back in 2011. I had joined the company Communications Dept. the previous year with no experience of either comms or marketing. Instead I gradually displayed a natural enthusiasm for digital media, which was noticed senior colleagues. I decided to turn my enthusiasm into a process of knowledge building and over the next four years I have served something of an apprenticeship in the 'ways' of digital and social media marketing. And the learning never stops!

We started with the Twitter account; very much aimed at our corporate partners. Out of all the social networks, I'd recommend Twitter most. It's super easy to manage and build a following. And even if your content is a bit 'dry', the short nature of the posts at least challenges you to create a catchy bit of copy.

However, in the beginning it felt like I was getting nowhere. I'd pick up followers now and again. I didn't know about link shortening and I was making some rookie errors in the hashtag department. 

I still remember these challenges and I want to share some of the advice I'd give my 2011 self...

The Followers Will Come

Unless you're going to stick money behind your page from the get go, then don't expect the follower count to rocket. BUT, that's not a bad thing. Allowing your new page's following to grow organically will let you nurture your followers. You can build your lists sensibly. You can actually - initially at least - read what other are posting and then start to curate relevant content for your followers.

If you post interesting bits 'n bobs, people will take notice. Even if it's just the day's business news, someone somewhere will think you're worth keeping tabs on. And as the follower count grows, so will the average number of new followers each week.

Create your own images

I think this is the third post now where I've mentioned this but it's so important. I remember trawling Google images to try and find something either funny or relevant. I looked at other Facebook pages displaying cool, professionally created graphics and reckoned I obviously needed some kind of Photoshop training. Therefore, I whipped whatever I could find from Google and plastered that on my page.

Oh how I wish I'd taken the time to research free photo editing apps sooner. Whether it's on the App Store or Chrome Store, there is a plethora of free tools you can use to either create great social media images or tart up your own photos. It has been proven time and again to boost the numbers of people who get to see your posts on Twitter and Facebook.

Shorten links or hide them altogether

When I look back on some of my older posts I cringe at the long links packed full of hyphens and percentage marks.

Okay, so this one is almost completely for aesthetic reasons but ultimately, if a follower or fan sees this, they are more likely to think your page is, at best amateur and at worst - spammy.

Post more often and accept that you can't stop at 5pm on Fridays

Because my job is a contractual 35 hour week, Mon-Fri, 9-5 I still have to remind myself that social media does not work to those hours. Therefore I either schedule content on a Friday or make sure I'm logged in on Saturday morning.

As a Social Media Editor, that's just the way it is but when I started out, I made the mistake of thinking nobody would be interested over the weekend in what our business had to offer! Now I think, how many more followers and interactions could we have had in those early days!?

You live and learn.

Use a planner

This is still a hard one for me as I am not a natural forward planner. When I started on the Twitter account, I simply said to myself every day; "Find six things worth sharing". I was loading unnecessary pressure on myself rather than spending some time creating a simple plan and typing up copy in advance.

Even now, with said planner set up (and the first thing I open every day) I still ain't someone who will write a month's worth of tweets or Facebook posts. It just makes no sense to me. Plus, we as a business, always update our web content; so I'd be constantly having to update and edit anyway.

However, the simple act of having a planner as a place to draft copy and store my links makes life so much easier. I can tinker throughout each week and when it comes to scheduling posts it's as easy as a cut and paste into Hootsuite or Buffer.

Share other people's content

I won't write too much on this. It just seems so obvious now but back in the day, my aforementioned six tweets would link solely back to our web content. So dumb. It's almost like saying, "Of the thousands of websites out there talking about employment and recruitment, our page is the only one worth visiting". Which, I'm sure you'll agree is rather arrogant.

(Depending on your audience) You don't always have to seek comments

For the past few years, I've been making the mistake of assuming that no comments on our posts means failure.

We offer a service which helps people develop CV writing skills, interview techniques and job hunting methods. Our primary concern is getting people to register on the website. Social media marketing for us therefore, is about making sure as many people as possible see the content to support our goal.

Sure, comments are a positive sign of sentiment and Facebook for instance, likes to see this interaction but just as important are folks sharing our articles, clicking our links and/or watching our videos. So, if I was to say anything to my 2011 counterpart, I'd say stop asking stupid-ass questions, stop trying to be 'cool with the kids' and just focus on sharing good stuff...dude.