Boy are you busy.
But, as swamped as you are, you're not making much of a dent online, are you?
I get it.
It can be a full-time job keeping up with your website, your social media accounts, and all those emails.
Oh, those emails...
That's why I wrote this post.
Between life, family, and work—I'm frigging busy. But I know that my business doesn't progress unless I'm actively working at growing it online.
And let me tell you, it's a heck of a lot easier than going door-to-door, doing mailers, or making cold calls.
The return on investment (ROI) on those activities are minimal.
So to lighten my daily, weekly, and monthly marketing load, I created a simple solution using a reasonable 2-tool system to promote my social content strategy.
Because growing your business online, with or without spending a bunch of money takes active engagement.
Why not automate as much as possible, right?
So here's my secret social system, exposed, just for you.
The top tools I use for my social strategy are:
NOTE: When writing this post, I'd just added Board Booster to my Pinterest strategy. But at the time I wrote this post, it was too new of an addition to give you valid information on.
So, I'm going to share the basics of how these 2 simple, clean, and user-friendly tools work together to create the fast-growing social media traffic to my blog.
I got my first Twitter account in March of 2015.
I didn't start using it till May...
I'd had Pinterest for a few years with a whopping 26 followers. I never posted or shared anything relevant.
Come August 2015, I woke up to the power of Pinterest as much of my content researching lead me to Pinterest images, linked to blog posts.
Like a lightening bolt to the head, I realized it was time to get serious about social.
By December 2015 I went from 8 followers on Twitter to just over 200. (No bullshit follower-building strategies used. Strictly organic growth.)
From that point, I decided to create a system that's proving—without fail—to bring in over 1,800+ new visitors just from social media every month.
And (as of August 2016) over 250+ of those visitors subscribing to my email list every single month.
Without paying a cent for ads of any kind.
So before I dive into the strategy, let me introduce these 2 simple tools first.
You might be asking yourself...
Buffer is a social media automation tool that has changed my life.
And I don't say that as some passive turn-of-phrase, either.
Prior to using Buffer, I'd set timers to queue myself to stop whatever I was doing, grab the laptop, and post a new update on each social channel.
Wasted time much?
So, I sucked it up and added the extra $10 per month expense to incorporate Buffer as my "first" marketing automation tool back in early August 2015.
It's competitor, Hootsuite, offers a few "extra" features and more social channels to add. But, to me, it was a total hot mess.
Hootsuite is laid out like Trello on drugs. My brain just about died every time I opened it...
Buffer's simplicity and easy-to-understand user experience, alone, made it my top choice.
Add in the incredible support and continual focus on bettering the web and mobile apps for their customers, and you've got the cream of the crop with Buffer.
SUGGESTED: An Introduction To Buffer (on the Buffer FAQs page)
What are the Business Spreadsheets?
The Business Spreadsheets are a set of 6 tabs offered in Excel and iWork Numbers versions. (I included an eBook guide for suggested use and bonus tips, too.)
The 6 tabs function as a unit to grow your business when used together. The tabs include a:
- Monthly / Weekly Planning Sheet
- Content Planning Sheet (Monthly)
- Growth Metrics (Full Breakdown)
- Social / Blog Content (Plan + Rolling List for reference)
- Email Content List
- Blog Post Updating (Tracking + Schedule)
The Social / Blog Content tab is the one we'll use for all the social media and blog content lists and variations.
Within the blog and social content variations, the basic columns set up is a main column that houses all the blog categories.
(As shown in the example image below, one of my categories is Productivity which spans the length of all the posts that fall, primarily, under that topic.)
And the other columns house the:
- Post Title
- 8-10 [social media] content variations
- (Optional) column or 2 for longer content—like for Facebook, Google+ or Pinterest
- (Optional) column for suggested #hashtags
- (Optional) column for the date published
So, how do they work together?
Forewarning: I'm a planner.
And I credit planning for knowing exactly what I'll do in my business over the next 12 months with wiggle room mapped out.
With that said, here's where we start:
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Step 1. Plan out each month of content with the Spreadsheets
Another tab within the Business Spreadsheets Pack covers content planning.
(Basically, it's a spreadsheet outline that you can use to plan out content details as far in advance as you like.)
PRO TIP: Plan your content themes and general topic ideas out 3 months or further.
You can dig deep into details month-to-month. But having a tentative idea of what's coming next will help you to:
- actually have a strategy that can breed results
- plan projects to coincide with content
- create content series
- create content chains that keep readers coming back week after week
Without a plan, even a 100% tentative one, you're firing blanks into the dark.
And guessing that doesn't offer your audience strong leadership skills. (Which is what they need.)
"Rant" over, once you have the idea for the content that's ahead, you can dive into creating the content.
Since I've shared a lot on this topic, here's some quick links to bookmark and read later (or next):
- The Blog Blueprint: 5 Must-Haves To A Successful Blog
- The Blog Blueprint: How To Procure Your Content Passion
- The Blog Blueprint: How To Find Your Content Focus
- How To Utilize Google Analytics To Blog For The Audience You Already Have
- The Blog Blueprint: How To Set And Achieve S.M.A.R.T. Content Goals
- The Blog Blueprint: How To Create An Effective Content Plan
Step 2. Create (at least) 8-10 Social Media Content Variations
As soon as you're done writing the post or after final round of proofreading—before scheduling it to publish—create 8-10+ social media content variations.
It's the best time to write them—while the post's content is fresh in your mind.
But, it's going to suck the first few times you do this activity for each new post. Sorry to put it out there like that, but it's true.
You'll get the hang of it soon, though. Especially when you remain consistent with it.
TIP: Be mindful for your text character count, overall (if you use Twitter).
You can include additional rows at the end of your spreadsheet to house those longer social variations.
Step 3. Schedule Your New Social Content Into Buffer
Now that you've got all those content variations done, you can start plugging them into Buffer.
I love the calendar view so I can see everything at a glance.
EXAMPLE: I post to Twitter at least 10x per day. And Google Plus gets 3 posts per day.
(Pinterest is 100% on BoardBooster.)
Using my Twitter profile on Buffer, here's what I do:
- With 10 posts/day, I post 5 of my own pieces of content, and 5 of others—quotes, shares, articles, tips, etc.
- I randomize my 5 posts each day by just clicking an available opening in the schedule (I pre-set by activity), all in the one day—that way your brand new, "fresh off the press" blog post is getting seen, for sure.
BONUS: With a social platform like Twitter, share the new post on two different days in the first week.
- On the publishing date (maybe Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday?)
- On one day over the weekend (I do Saturday)
Then, share the post again the following week. (I share that third post round on Friday).
After than, cycle it through an every 2 to 6 weeks schedule, depending on the new content you're sharing.
With a narrow, well-defined niche, you'll gain lots of traffic to those older, recycled posts.
With a more broad niche (like mine), you'll have lost of variety to span out over time with.
Either way, that blog and social content variations spreadsheet will help you kick-ass quicker and easier.
Step 4. Add in other related content (from your Own Posts)
I do one of two things here:
- I go back through my Social and Blog Content spreadsheet within the same category.
- I go to the search page of my website with a keyword or two from the new content and search for related content.
For the rest of the week, I want my social posts I share to be related to the newest piece of content.
("Related" could be simply in the same content category.)
You don't have to do it that way.
But, I like to treat my social media content much like my blog—cohesive and able to be used together to tackle a "big problem" for my audience.
Once you've found or gathered some viable content of your own to round out the rest of the week, add those into your Buffer schedule, too.
Again, try to keep one post spread out across one day.
That way it keeps your social media output clean, cohesive, and you're less likely to hit the same viewer with the same piece of content for more than one day.
READY TO GET YOUR BUSINESS IN SHIP-SHAPE?
See how these pre-made Excel and iWork Numbers spreadsheets bundled with the New[er] Solopreneur Handbook, #MyBestWeek Planner, and #4DayGoals Goal Planning + Development Workbook could change the way you run your business—for the better.
Step 5. Find Awesome Content Around The Web To Add To Your Queue
I don't do this all in one day.
(In my case, that'd be close to reading or skimming 50+ posts a day.)
WHAT YOU CAN DO: Collect content throughout the week to add to your Buffer Queue.
Because even though you're using a social automation tool like Buffer, you still need to be on your professional social channels and connect with people throughout the workweek.
While you're there, you might as well click around, right? Read or skim viable content from other [trustworthy] sources, and add it to your Buffer Queue.
If you use Google Chrome as your Internet Browser, Buffer offers a Chrome extension.
With that little convenient guy installed, any content you come across on the web becomes easily Buffer Queue-able.
BONUS TIP: Connect Buffer to Twitter, Pinterest, and any other available social channel your target audience is on.
That way when you find content you want to add to your Queue, there's already an extension available within the social platform.
It's important to not only share your own posts, but to exhibit your expertise as a curator of fine content to your audience.
To do this simply and easily, there's a few things you can do:
- Use a feed reader—like Feedly or Flipboard—to discover high-quality blog content to share.
- Use blogging platforms like Medium and LinkedIn Pulse (to not only publish content to, but) to find more content to share.
- Follow industry leaders on Twitter and check in a couple times a week to collect content to curate.
- Use Buffer's "Content Inbox" section to populate with your top 15 RSS choices for easy content searching from sources you trust.
- Have a list of trusted sources with links to peruse regularly—this should be on your content style guide, anyhow.
Then, all you have to do is "Add to Queue" for any great content you'd like to share with your audience.
BONUS TIP: Write a custom explanation for 80% of the content you share that's from others.
Don't get me wrong. People will (and do) appreciate any share they get from others across social media.
But, especially with influencers, write custom content + the direct link + the author or website's handle.
It reveals to the author and other's coming across your share that:
- You actually read or skimmed the content
- You care enough about the content and your audience to write a custom snippet
- You're someone who can be trusted (because you don't just share to share, you share to benefit others—and yourself, of course)
Plus, there's always the chance that the author will share your share which could result in more social media followers for you.
It's the lovely cycle of appreciation.
Each social strategy contribution carries the weight of it's assignment well.
For me, it's been the perfect combination for several months now—my spreadsheets and Buffer.
And as you may well know by now, there's nothing better than finding a system that just works—without fail.
So, I hope my system can do you some serious good for you, too.
Because it definitely has for me.
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