In this day and age, the future of our businesses and day-to-day life seem to be entirely based online. From using an app to track your weight loss and calories consumed or paying for your lunch with your smartphone, to even completing more complex business transactions or hosting a video conference. At the heart of all this change, and how we choose to connect with our colleagues, friends, and family, sits social media. More than just a hobby for millennials, this complex world of online blogs, platforms, and sites on which to post content can make or break for your business if you fail to take the time to understand not only how to use it, but also how to use it well.

For most companies, employing a social media expert is seen as a waste of money, and you might fall into the bracket that tacks it on like a nice to have or added plus managed by your marketing team. However, it’s easy to become complacent when it comes to social. In fact, if you really wanted to reap the rewards of effective social use, then this would be more than a full-time job. Impossible for any human to complete, you would need someone in your office 24 hours a day, seven full days a week, covering all time zones, news outlets, and global regions. That said, social media management need not be that difficult, however, it’s important to assess how and why social can benefit you and your business – as each requirement or business model varies. Do you rely on social to generate new leads? Are you taking your products online and want to get more traffic to your website? Are you just starting out in the market and want to get noticed? Or perhaps you are injecting a bit more life into your business and think social is the way to go? Remember to be clear with your objectives right from the start and don’t be afraid to experiment, what works for your competitors might not be successful for you. Planning and time management is key in this area, so take it back to basics and draw up a simple editorial calendar so that you can get ready for each month in advance.

Sure, you can’t plan how social media works, and a few rogue tweets or unexpected news coverage could put your business into a spin, but panic not. Responding to trolls or poor press is a better to practice than employing radio silence. Don’t be afraid to help direct criticisms and respond to your online followers. You will also want to draw up a crisis communications plan too, just in case a major scandal strikes and you want to keep the rest of your team briefed, informed, and ready for anything.

Learn from the experts

We all have a company or brand that we enjoy following on social media – from the sublime to the downright ridiculous, or even an ex-employee. You would be foolish not to learn from businesses who do social well and emulate this across your own digital channels. Consumers enjoy and will engage more with posts and content that is personal and to the point, so put yourself in your customers’ shoes and don’t be scared to get creative. First and foremost, you are going to need to revise the content and copy that you use. You can now find a range of online media coverage tools such as stim social that will make your daily trawls for content a lot less time consuming, giving you back precious time in the long run. Secondly, work out which messages or key areas you want to focus on each month – yes you might have business goals to meet, but consumers will quickly get bored if you continually broadcast how great your company is to the world. Remember that a variety of posts and content will work best – you want to engage with your followers and encourage them to like and interact with whatever you put online. Increasingly, video content is also a fun way to get your message across and can be used to explain a complex event or news in just a few minutes, rather than a page of writing. Bear in mind that the average consumer will only spend a maximum of 2.5 minutes watching a video online – so if you are producing videos that are longer than this, you are wasting your time and efforts.

Consistency is key

Consistency is key when it comes to social, in particular, if you are positioning yourself across a spectrum of channels. Firstly, you will need to make sure that your branding and colour scheme are on point and positioned the same across all of the social that you use. Using a logo designer can be an easy and fun way to trial logo designs and colour schemes. Once you are happy that your branding has been reflected and implemented accurately, and you’ve experimented with different content types and styles, now is the time to nail your post scheduling seriously. Again, online social media management tools can be a serious asset and help with this, so do some research before picking which one works best for you and your requirements. You are going to need to be prepared to experiment with this, as choosing the right time can be tricky at first, but once in hand – well done. You are well on your way to having a watertight, cost-effective social strategy in place.

Just because you’ve done all this hard work, it doesn’t mean that your social strategy stops here. In order to maintain ahead of your game, and keep building on your digital reputation you will need to be prepared to put the hours and preparation in on a daily basis. Yes, you might have cut some costs down, but time is something that you will still have to spend wisely. That said, just keeping these few ideas in mind will help you develop a social presence that is sure to impress even the most hardcore of social media users.