Launching a startup is exciting, but wearing many hats can be both exhilarating and draining—because it’s hard to juggle 10 jobs and be the master of them all. Some tasks are easier than others, but one of these hats, social media, is a pain point for many entrepreneurs. The way we communicate with potential customers is constantly changing, and continuously pushing company promotions no longer cuts it.
Now, you have to build a relationship with your customers before asking them to try your product or services. And the trickiest part of doing that is not just knowing how to lure them in, but keeping them an engaged part of your community.
It can be overwhelming, but here are some hacks I’ve developed that make executing a social media strategy a more manageable, realistic and successful process.
Here are some quick tips and easy tricks to help amplify your startup’s social media presence today:
When to post to social media
One of the keys points to remember when posting on social media is to post your content when your followers (and potential followers) are online and active on social networks.
After conducting thorough research through my own social media software, Kittr, I’ve found the best time of day depends on your target market, but, typically, for most types of business, mid-week is the most active time—Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays—with Mondays, Fridays and weekends being the least active days.
Why? Because most people surf social channels while they are at work, and while they are in the mid-week swing of things. In general, Mondays aren’t that busy because people are playing catch up from the weekend, and Fridays are slow (especially in the afternoon), because everyone’s thinking about the weekend. The weekend is slower when it comes to business, because, well, everyone is out having fun!
What time of the day is best? The aforementioned research shows that early mornings receive the most link clicks and evening posts receive the most engagement. I agree with this, but think the 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. window is pretty golden for overall engagement. Check your Twitter Analytics and Facebook Insights to see what times are best for your own business.
Please note that there are exceptions to the above rules. If your business relates to something like gardening, cooking or golf, your best days to post might be weekends when people are engaging in such leisurely activities and browsing social networks for information about them.
Tip: Schedule your posts throughout the day so they hit different time zones.
The 80/20 rule
Always try to use the 80/20 rule.
Make sure that you aren’t selling your brand or products all day long because you will lose followers fast. About 80 percent of your posts should give your followers important information and help to build relationships. Share relevant articles, facts, quotes and infographics most of the time.
Then, for the other 20 percent of your content, go ahead and toot your own horn. As a general rule, I post or retweet around four non-promotional posts for every one promotional post. The key is to mix it up. Scroll through your timeline and make sure the content you’re sharing doesn’t feel too sales-y. And, even when you are selling, try to not sound too sales-y.
Throughout the day, retweet trusted sources and fans that are posting about topics that your followers would like to read.
Tip: Make lists of trusted sources and scroll through them every day. I have a Twitter list I call “daily” for my own account. Every day I browse it a couple of times, sharing and engaging when appropriate. Your lists might include members of the media you want to keep tabs on, magazines, influencers or professional associations.
Choosing social media networks
Your business does not have to be on every social network. I repeat: do not try to be on every social network.
Just say no to being on every single channel. Do some research, determine where your potential customers are active, and use those networks. Stick with one to three channels, max.
For example, if you are targeting millennials, your top network might be Instagram, with YouTube or Snapchat coming in as second. But, if you are targeting thought leaders, your best bets might be LinkedIn and Twitter. Targeting the older generation? Facebook is probably the best spot. Determine your targets, then pick the channel your target market is using. For a little help, check out this recent piece by Sprout Social that breaks down channel demographics.
Don’t stress out. Just pick two and trust me, you can always add more later. There’s no shortage of social networks.
Tip: Having a few social channels is fine, but pick one and dominate it.
Social listening and engagement
Taking time out for social listening (a.k.a. social monitoring) and engagement is just as important as taking time to create social content.
What the heck is engagement? It’s taking time to engage with your community. Think likes, retweets, shares, follows and comments. That’s engagement! I promise you that becoming an active member of your community will do wonders for your social presence.
So, how to find these people for engaging with? In order to find the best followers to engage with, you will need to monitor your brand’s online presence, and relevant topics, through social listening.
It sounds hard, but it’s pretty easy. Use the search tools on social networks to find new social friends via social listening. See what’s being said. Hop into conversations. Search for hashtags related to your brand or business, then start building lists based on those hashtags to help you start to build your own communities. Ask questions, share articles and “like” posts. Jump in!
Also, when someone follows you, thank them. Then, visit their profile page and learn something about them. Start to build a relationship. Add them to a relevant list (Example: NYC Tech Media).
Make sure you engage with your followers on a regular basis. If you are pressed for time, schedule a couple of time slots each week for engagement. I would suggest that you spend at least four hours a week on engagement. It’s just like real life engaging, except virtual.
Remember that it’s all about being social on social media!
You can make social media friends just like you make friends in real life—by talking to them, giving them kudos when something cool happens and learning about them. Some of my coolest friends are purely social media friends that I’ve never even met in real life.
Tip: Designate half of your time for creating and posting content, and the other half of your time as social listening and engagement time.
How to post to social media
Twitter and LinkedIn
- Daily at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.
- Use a tool, like Kittr, Hootsuite or Sprout Social to schedule ahead of time
If you are trying to grow your startup’s presence on Twitter or LinkedIn, I suggest posting a few times per day. The best times to post are usually mid-day and in the evening. Start with the above time slots, then check your stats, analyze retweets, likes, etc., to see if you need to adjust your posting times. If you are getting zero engagement at 9 a.m., but tons of it in the evening, try ditching the 9 a.m. slot and add a 10 p.m. to the mix to see how it performs.
Hashtags (Twitter only)
Use relevant hashtags to target followers. If something relevant is trending on Twitter, jump on that! Use that hashtag to gain exposure to a new audience (but just make sure you tweet something that relates to the hashtag, as well as your business)! Examples of hashtags that might trend: #NationalPetDay and #EarthDay.
Photos and videos
Posts with imagery usually perform better than tweets without, so use photos when appropriate, but make sure your images show up in timelines. The rule on Twitter is that square and rectangle images (1024 pixels by 512 pixels) work well, but ideal sizes are always changing.
Always test images online and on mobile after you upload them to make sure they fit into Twitter’s allotted image space. Otherwise, your timeline will look sloppy. Create images in Canva, which is always optimized, or use Hubspot’s list of optimal sizes. Make sure your timeline is interesting and appealing to the eye. Try doing small galleries (up to four images), adding videos and using GIFs. Infographics are a good option, too.
You can tag up to 10 people in Twitter pictures, so do that instead of tagging people in a tweet—it will give tweets a cleaner look. On LinkedIn, try tagging brands or people in posts for extra impact.
Facebook and Instagram
- Post one to two times per day at noon and 8 p.m.
- Schedule posts ahead of time on Facebook
How often and when
Typically, I recommended posting once or twice a day on Facebook and Instagram.
From time to time, long posts will perform well, but, in general, you will get the best engagement on your posts if your messaging is between 20 and 80 characters. Ideal range? Studies say 40 characters.
In general, the best time for posts seems to be at the peak of traffic (noon to 1 p.m.) and in the evening. Check your stats every month so you can analyze your traffic peaks. Target times could change.
You can use hashtags on Facebook and Instagram, but less is more. Where should they go? Try to either fit them into the content or at the end of the post. Another trick: put Instagram hashtags in the first comment (you can use up to 30 per post).
In my experience, square images and quote graphics perform well, but rectangle photos can look good, too. Mix it up, try galleries (now available on Instagram, too) and videos. The key is to make sure your timeline has a good mix of content.
How is your social media strategy working for you? Let us know in the comments section below.