Startup Resources
November 6, 2017 by Ryan Gould

This story was submitted by Ryan Gould of Elevation Marketing and does not constitute the views or opinions of Upwork.


It’s no secret that social media is a prominent part of any good marketing strategy. Currently, 83% of marketers are actively using social media on a regular basis—and 19% of those marketers are spending more than 20 hours a week on social platforms.

If business owners and marketers had ample time each week to spend on social media, it would be simple to grow their social media following. They’d spend time reading up on every new trend, engaging with followers throughout the day, and working to develop ever-important video content to increase social shares and engagement. But what if you only have a couple of hours per week to dedicate to your social media strategy, or less?

In an ideal world, your social media following would simply grow as your business grows—but it takes more effort than that. The key to increasing your social audience is not putting in overtime; it’s consistency.

After setting up your social media accounts, you can grow them with 15 minutes each morning. Read on for a step-by-step process to grow your business’ social media following and, in turn, increase sales in just minutes a day.

Streamline your social media strategy

First things first: you need a clear picture of your strategy. That means picking the right platforms for your business.

Once you understand your target demographic, research which platforms they’re most likely using. For example, as reported by the Pew Research Center, 79% of adult internet users are on Facebook, but only 28% are on Instagram.

But just because Instagram isn’t the most widely used social media platform doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be using it in your marketing strategy. Research which social networks work best for your industry. For example, retail shops seem to thrive on Instagram, Snapchat makes the most sense for media and entertainment, and manufacturers get lots of traction through product-specific YouTube tutorials.

When you’re first developing your social strategy, pick one platform to master first. Learning one new platform is easier than learning all of them, and you’ll be able to streamline your process in no time.

Schedule posts at optimal times

No matter which platforms you choose to focus on in your strategy, it’s vital to keep to a consistent posting schedule and space out your posts efficiently. It’s also helpful to understand when it’s a good time to post, and when it’s not.

According to many studies, here are the best times to post on different platforms:

  • Facebook: 1-4 PM, later in the week & on weekends
  • Twitter: 1-3 PM & 5 PM, especially on Wednesdays
  • Pinterest: Saturday evenings, 8-11 PM
  • LinkedIn: Midweek, 5-6 PM
  • Google+: 9-11 AM, workdays
  • Instagram: All times except 3-4 PM, all throughout the week—especially Mondays

Of course, posting to social at different times of day is tough when you’re trying to limit your daily social media screen time to 15 minutes. But there’s a simple fix to this: Use a scheduling app.

Scheduling posts in advance is a great way to plan out your posts so you’re not scrambling for content last-minute.

Hootsuite and Buffer are great options for scheduling across multiple platforms. In addition, Tweetdeck is complimentary for Twitter users. Facebook also allows users to schedule posts directly on their business page.

Focus on quality and mix of content rather than quantity

The content you post should be a mix of news items and industry trends, your blog posts and other content you own, and the occasional promotional post. And whatever your strategy, don’t overdo it. Rather than bombarding your followers with dozens of posts per day, focus on scheduling a few high-quality posts. Also, when sharing a piece of content that’s not your own, it’s good practice to tag the original publisher.

Make sure what you’re sharing on social media is valuable for your followers. Does it offer practical advice for a problem they might be experiencing? Is it something they’d want to share with their friends and colleagues? Shareable content is the gateway to gaining new followers.

What drives people to share content? It’s not logic; it’s emotion. People share posts to entertain others, express themselves, feel involved in their communities—and help calm their fears. Take a look at these two headline examples from Buffer:

The “more human version” is going to get more clicks and shares, because it addresses a common fear — wasting money.

Additionally, visual content performs much better than content without visual components, even on platforms that are less image-oriented. For instance, adding images to your tweets encourages higher levels of engagement. Tweets with images receive 18% more clicks than tweets without them.

Engage with relevant accounts

Finally, a reliable way to gain new followers is to start following others—and engage with them. You can save time by engaging in existing discussions so that your profile shows up in more news feeds. These discussions should be relevant to your industry so that it doesn’t look like you’re simply trying to gain new followers without offering anything useful in return. Additionally, be responsive to the followers you already have. When you log on, spend a few minutes addressing those in your mentions by liking or responding to their comments.

Remember that not every account you follow on social media is going to follow you back—and that’s okay. It’s more important that you follow the right kinds of accounts, meaning the ones you’d like to be associated professionally. It’s good practice to follow back relevant accounts, but not accounts that won’t add anything to your feed.

For example, having many followers on Twitter seems like a good overall goal. But having a solid following to follower ratio is actually more important.

To be taken seriously as a brand, you should have many more followers than accounts you are following. Otherwise you look “spammy.” The perfect ratio is said to be 1:2, meaning you should have twice as many followers as accounts you are following. If you have thousands of Twitter followers but are following tens of thousands of accounts, your follow-back percentage—the number of accounts that follow your account after you follow theirs—will plummet.

Once a month go through the list of those you are following and unfollow those that don’t follow you back or are not continuing to provide value to their followers.

Conclusion

When you’re new to social media strategy, it can feel like a steep learning curve. But by dedicating just 15 minutes each day, you’ll begin to get the hang of it—and eventually, it won’t feel so foreign. By focusing on scheduling ahead relevant, unique content and engaging with your followers, relevant brands, and influencers, you can organically grow your social media following with minimal time commitment. Plus, you’ll be establishing yourself as an authoritative voice within your field and that’s good for business.


This story was submitted by Ryan Gould of Elevation Marketing and does not constitute the views or opinions of Upwork. Find out how you can publish your content on Upwork.

Ryan Gould

Vice President of Strategy and Marketing Services at Elevation Marketing

Ryan Gould is the Vice President of Strategy and Marketing Services at Elevation Marketing, a B2B marketing agency. Ryan helps medium and large brands improve sales and market share by developing integrated marketing experiences distinguished by research, storytelling, engagement and conversion.