7 Easy Ways to Simplify Your Social Media Engagement
A guide to finding balance for the self-employed
Social media has become an inextricable part of our work. While we might prefer to disengage, it’s often necessary to maintain an active presence online. Finding a balance between an active social media presence and an actual life can be challenging.
For many, social media is where we share our photos, funny memes, and updates about our lives. When we use social media for work, we have to be more intentional about the content we provide and the way in which we engage with the public. Inconsistent posting can hurt our views and limit the audience for future posts.
Here are seven simple ways to simplify our social media engagement.
#1 Schedule posts rather than trying to create live content all day.
While live content might be the ideal, scheduling posts can also be a way to continue sharing consistent content without the need to do it all day long. Taking a couple of hours to prepare a month’s worth of posts can free up time to genuinely engage with readers on those posts throughout the month without feeling pressured to create and provide content during each workday. It takes the pressure off and allows for greater consistency.
#2 Practice healthy boundaries around messaging.
Facebook scores response times on business pages. Creating an auto response template can help, but if we can’t realistically respond in a reasonable amount of time on Facebook, we may want to consider turning off messages and/or offering clients another way to get in touch with us. For example, we can provide an email address and be clear about our average response times. Healthy boundaries also look like blocking and deleting inappropriate messages without feeling a need to respond at all.
#3 Be personal.
Social media is still meant to be social — even if we’re using it for business. To give our clients and readers a stronger sense of ourselves, we can be as personal as we choose. We can share a selfie, showcase our sense of humor with a meme or funny story, share a comforting daily ritual, or give our customer base a sense that we’re more than just a business. Doing so can be a reminder of why it’s so important to support small businesses like ours. Instead of contributing to the wealth of an indifferent CEO, they see that we’re regular people who appreciate their business.
While I rarely, if ever, share photos of my children as a part of my business page, I do talk about being a mother. While we want to practice safe sharing practices in public forums to protect our children, we can also be real about what our lives look like in a way that actually enhances and supports our business model. If sharing that much about our personal lives doesn’t sit well or fit our brand message, we can instead share something that gives a personal touch without being more revealing than we prefer.
#4 Use hashtags effectively.
Hashtags are often overlooked, but they can do a lot to help people find our businesses. Using popular and trending hashtags can be one way to garner attention, but it’s also important that we use hashtags that are specific and relevant to a post.
For instance, if we’re sharing a post about suicide awareness, we could easily hashtag #suicideawareness and #suicideprevention . We could even include #mentalhealth. But we might also want to include #triggerwarning and the specific area our post references. That might look like highlighting veteran suicide rates or referencing other specific instances. Broad, popular hashtags may get lost in the shuffle while specific hashtags can help us find the right audience. Zoom out, but also zoom in to make sure that the hashtags allowed create a balance between popular, trending, and specific tags.
To use hashtags effectively, we also need to make sure that we aren’t overwhelming our readers. On Instagram, we can use up to 30 hashtags per post, but I often choose to put them in the comments section rather than subjecting the readers of my posts to all 30 in the caption. On Facebook and Twitter, I use hashtags more sparingly but still use them.
#5 Choose your social media outlets intentionally.
While having a social media presence is important, it’s possible to spread ourselves too thin. Many of us use the triple threat of Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. We might also throw LinkedIn into the mix. From there, we could keep adding social media profiles from here to eternity, but it might not be the best use of our time.
Instead of trying to be present on every single form of social media available, we can pick the few that we’re willing to spend our time cultivating. We might easily grow a following on Instagram but struggle with Twitter or do well on Facebook but not on LinkedIn. Finding our audience isn’t about putting a little of ourselves everywhere but honing the sites where we maintain the strongest engagement.
#6 Keep your message on-brand.
This one can be challenging. Most of us aren’t one-dimensional humans with only one interest, but it is important that we keep our business posts on brand. Having a clear idea of the mood we want to create and the target audience we want to attract can keep our content consistent.
If our brand is all about food, we might not want to share a plethora of pet pictures. If our brand is geared toward a calm aesthetic, we might not want to drop a bright, loud photo in the mix. Keeping our work consistent can help followers know exactly what they should expect from following our content.
I’ve struggled with this. My interests are varied. I love being a multi-faceted human, but it can make my work social media a bit scattered. I’ve finally shifted more toward nature pictures, quotes, and posts of recent books or articles in order to help clarify the intention of my page.
#7 Share from relevant creators.
We don’t have to be the personal creator for every bit of content we share. Sharing from other relevant creators, and appropriately tagging their businesses, can help support others while sharing messages that fit well with our brand, business, and target audience. If we pressure ourselves to share only original content, social media may seem more overwhelming than it was ever intended to be.
Following pages whose messages align with ours can be a great way of seeing posts and sharing them in real-time. It keeps our content on-brand, credits and supports other creators, and helps us increase page engagement.
Social media doesn’t need to be a headache. In fact, it can actually be fun to engage with our audience. As a writer, I love to get to know a little about my readers and to share content I think they’ll enjoy. They, in turn, support my work and enjoy my page. It’s a mutually beneficial relationship. It may be my business, but it’s not my whole world. I can mix business with pleasure without creating unnecessary pressure on myself to source and post engaging content on every known outlet all day long.
These days, I enjoy social media. It’s a refreshing break on the days when my scheduled posts are getting engagement, and I have plenty of time to reply to comments from a place of genuine interest rather than pressure. By following these seven tips, you can make social media an enjoyable form of marketing rather than a unique form of modern torture.