How To Effectively Use Social Media (and not let it use you!)

Social media is an absolute beast… 💪

…and we must treat it accordingly.

A majority of the product sales I’ve helped clients produce have come as a result of Twitter.

(Maybe that is why I have 28 Twitter accounts on my iPhone right now.🤔)

To some, that may come as a surprise as Twitter is said to be declining in terms of overall users and activity.

You can’t argue what the stats show as a whole, but different social platforms are more popular in various niches.

For instance, baseball coaches love Twitter for it’s shareability, the score updates, quick videos, quotes, etc…

However, this may not be the case for your audience so do your homework and know how to reach your people.

In this post, I’m going to share a few observations on social media and how you can effectively utilize each platform…

I often talk about the importance of identifying your avatar and building a relationship with them. That often includes knowing where they spend time, which leads into my first observation…

• If you’re not sure about all this social media stuff, now is probably a good time to start looking into it. ⌛

When it comes to reaching and helping more people, it is critical that you are where they are. Think about your ideal avatar (the one person that you can help the most)… Do they use social media? How often? Facebook? Instagram? Twitter? Snapchat?

When consulting with collegiate athletic departments/teams on the recruiting (and brand building) process, I frequently discuss the importance of having a presence on recruits’ favorite platforms… When a coach gets off their first phone call with a recruit, what do you think the recruit is going to do next?

Throughout my work with prospective student-athletes, the response is overwhelming that they’re headed to their favorite social media platform (Instagram, if we’re talking about Millennials) and searching for the coach’s name to learn more about them.

If you “only use Twitter” and they don’t find you on Instagram, hopefully they check Twitter, but more than likely they’re on to the next…

But, if they do find your profile and can learn more about what’s important to you, what your program represents, etc… you’ve now developed a deeper relationship with the recruit you just spoke with, and that rapport can go a long way in the recruiting process when you are talking with numerous recruits.

I recommend at least having a presence on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram… (With the recent developments of the Instagram Story feature, I wouldn’t put too much energy into learning and using Snapchat, unless you already have a large following there. Snap and IG are in an all-out war against each other and I’ve got my money on Zucks to win the long term battle.)

• Each platform has a unique purpose. Use it accordingly. 📱

With Twitter‘s 280-character limit on text (and 2:20 limit on videos), the platform is created to share short bits of information. You can also include links in your Tweets to your website if you want to provide more than is permitted. The Retweet feature makes shareability a factor in creating content. More on that in a bit…

Facebook is created for more long-form text and has much higher limits on the length of videos. Facebook has Profiles, Pages, and Groups. (You’ll need a Profile to use Facebook and a Page to run Facebook Ads. Groups are a great way to create a community around one central purpose or mission.)

Instagram is a primarily visual platform with each post requiring a photo or an up to 1 minute video.

The Instagram Story feature is similar to what Snapchat was… up to 15 second (vertical) videos, or photos that provide users with a more in-depth, raw, unedited look into your life.

LinkedIn is a more professional platform used for networking.

YouTube is a video platform that has recently increased it’s social features, but at least serves as a great place to host your public videos.

Pinterest… Not necessarily my forte, but my wife can tell you all about it! (She keeps telling me that there’s money to be made there… 🤷‍♂️)

I could go on for hours about the in’s and out’s of social media, but the last point I’d like to make here is that if you have the resources available (time or team) to do so, make an effort to post natively to each platform… meaning that if you have a photo you’d like to post to each platform, don’t connect all your accounts to Instagram so that Twitter & Facebook auto-post an IG link. To me, it looks lazy. Plus, the image sizes in IG feed are typically square, while the Twitter feed is rectangle, so if you post a square image to Twitter, it gets cut off, etc…

• Don’t be romantic about the platform. 💖

While each platform does have a unique purpose, don’t become too attached to any one in particular as their features are changing rapidly. Remember that you don’t own anything on social media and it could all be taken away from you very quickly. Therefore, you don’t want to become dependent on any one single platform. (That is why building your e-mail list is so important, which I’ll be sharing more with you about soon!)

• Is this something my avatar would want to share with their followers? 🗣

Depending on the desired outcome of the post, this is a question to ask yourself before posting on Twitter and Facebook.

Why do some posts go ‘viral’?

It contains a high level of shareability

For instance: If you’re an author who has a large number of sport coaches following you, think about if what you are about to post is something they would want to share with their players… In many cases, coaches decide what to post (or share) based on if they think their followers would find value in it.

Additionally, there are tremendous insights and analytics available now on all of the popular social media platforms that allow you to see what days and times people are engaging with your content.

Many people ask when to post. There are a few general rules of thumb, but I am a big fan of testing and basing those decisions off of data that tells you exactly when your followers are most active.

As you are working to build authority, something else to keep in mind when creating content is: Scroll Stopping 🛑

Is there a creative, unique element you can add to your post to stop your avatar from scrolling right over what you just worked so hard to create?

• Use social media for what it was created to be used for. 👍

Now, of course there are times when you are going to be promoting a product or service, but social media should be used to communicate and have meaningful conversations.

Replying to (or at least acknowledging) your followers comments can go a long way.

As a general rule of thumb, you should be adding value ~80%, sharing other content ~10%, and promoting/selling ~10%.

While others are panicking about Facebook’s new algorithm changes, I think it is a great move to increase the amount of real interaction happening among the people and businesses you follow on Facebook. It will force hyper-active marketers to re-think their plan of attack.

And, have fun with it! Be creative. Inspire. Share your journey. Try new things. See what works and what your people like.

• Turn off your notifications and schedule time each day to check in on your accounts. 🚨 

If you want to be more productive and have greater impact, you can’t allow every like or comment to distract you from what you’re focused on. You can also turn off the little red ‘badges’ so you’re not tempted to check in on your social media apps all day long.

If you’re not intentional about how you use social media, it will end up using you. 

(You know… That black hole you fall into and come out of 15 minutes later wondering what just happened! 🕳)

The smartphone has trained us to immediately respond to any alert or notification. We must break this habit and be more intentional with our time and energy.

• Use direct messages for customer support. 📨

If you’re prospects or customers want to inquire about products/services via direct messages or Facebook Messenger, you should have a system in place to reply to them within 24 hours. Having a built-in contact form on your website will reduce these, but if your customer wants to talk with you on a platform they are comfortable with, then reply to them there, or have someone who is able to do that for you. Responsiveness is key!

• Do more live video broadcasts. 🎥

I am as guilty as anyone for not utilizing this more, but technology makes it very simple now to go live for all of your followers anytime, anywhere. Facebook and Instagram allow you to do this in-app, but there are tools like BeLive.TV and Zoom that provide awesome features to take your live broadcasts to the next level.

• If you don’t feel like you can keep up, automate. 🗓

There are several social media management apps available now that allow you to schedule your social media posts at a specific date and time in the future. If you’re struggling with constant FOMO on social, start by automating a few posts on Facebook or Twitter. Don’t let it become more than 50% of your posts as there is true power in real-time interaction, but if you have scheduled events that you know are going to require posting to social media for, then try automating them so that nothing falls through the cracks.

• Don’t expect all of your followers to see everything you post. 👀

(I saved this for last because I think it is most important.)

Maybe this was the case 5-10 years ago, but not anymore. There are so many people fighting for the attention of your avatar that you can never assume that if you post something your followers will see it.

The algorithms are constantly changing and the most popular posts (hopefully yours 😎) are moving towards the top of your feed. Attention spans are shortening. Time spent in-app is decreasing, while frequency is increasing…

Bottom line is that if you feel strongly about something or want to promote products/services, you should be willing to pay for the attention of your target market.

The Facebook Ad platform is possibly the most robust marketing tool I’ve ever seen (and it keeps getting better).

Depending on your product/service, Google Ads can be valuable as well to reach your tribe.

Advertising on social media can be very complex, but profitable if you trust the process. 💰

👇 Bottom Line(s) 👇

If you want to share your message with the world, use social media.

There is a learning curve involved, but it is worth it (and I’d love to help).

Have a presence on all popular platforms. Focus on your strengths.

Post more frequently. Use more video. Try a live broadcast.

Automate when needed.

Ask yourself about the shareability before posting.

Turn off notifications. Check in once per day.

Enjoy the process and have fun with it! 👊

P.S. With the rapid growth and evolution of social media, this post could be out-of-date by the time I hit ‘Publish’ but I hope this brought you some value!

P.P.S. If there’s ever anything I can do to help you, please let me know.