I listen keenly as my new client tells me "I need to be on every social media platform!" and I do my best not to groan outwardly. In fairness they are a very visually based business so they have every chance of being on loads of different platforms. Then I ask three questions:
They respond with "Oh, I have been running for a year now, self-employed and maybe an hour or so a week, will that be enough?"
This conversation happened about 3 years ago and there were maybe one or two less platforms than there are now. Even so, you still need time to master each one. I'm sure you know a Sole Trader such as this person, they would have been finding customers, doing work, invoicing, chasing up, promoting and managing social media. Then some how squeezing time for partner, children, walking the dog, meeting the odd friend and every now and then being ill!I can't emphasise enough how important it is to manage your time, certainly in the first couple of years of a business. Those first few years can make or break your business and every effort at this stage has to really be progressing the business forward.
First and foremost you have to understand who your audience is. If you are using the wrong platform for your preferred audience, it's an expensive and wasteful exercise. Once it's understood which platform you will find your audience then you need to understand it and have a strategy for using it. This is of course alongside answering the phone, opening the shop, chasing suppliers and the many other roles you have!In the particular above clients instance; we started with one platform for the first 2 months and then added others as they got more used to each one. In the end (after a year) they had five - but they also had a workable and time efficient strategy and another member of staff!
Using social media shouldn't just be a means to an end, it should be a method of professional contact with your potential client where you can give them the best version of yourself. Once you are on social media, there is this expectation that you are going to be more responsive. If you're trying to manage to much too soon, you could end up angering or at the least disappointing someone before you even get chance to speak to them.I know it can be frustrating in the first year or two of trading and you are normally not getting the best (if any) return on investment, but sinking your money and time into platforms that you don't maintain properly takes you away from the fantastic customer service you previously had. Unfortunately social media is not the only thing that helps a business, it's the rapport and relationship you have with your client and the fact you can be relied upon to respond in a timely manner.
If anyone says you need to be on such and such a platform, they may well be right but only when you have the time and strategy to manage them. Being the turtle is best for many Sole Traders, the Hare tends to be well battered and without batteries by the end of the first year.
Time management and time saving platforms such as Hootsuite, Tweetdeck, Postplanner and Buffer all have slightly different offerings and may be the tool(s) you need to help inspire you, post and tweet more frequently. You can schedule for a week or so ahead (or months ahead for things like Christmas and New Year) and then be responsive with new updates and people responding to your scheduled posts and tweets.Make this coming New Year a time to set aside a proper strategy and find better ways and tools to manage your time more efficiently. Irish Tech News brings you all the latest updates, make sure you follow them online to keep up to date.
This article was originally featured in Irish Tech News.