Five Step Social Media Strategy for Writers

Here’s your five step social media strategy, aka what to focus on when you don’t have time to be social. Stop being overwhelmed and start marketing!

Five Step Social Media Strategy for Writers

Five Step Social Media Strategy for Writers

Let’s face it. Social media marketing can be overwhelming. The more experts and gurus you listen to, the more steps there seems to be to reach the social media success train. But it doesn’t have to be this way. I’ve put together a quick and easy five step social media strategy for those times you don’t have time for marketing.

Because you’re busy and looking for help NOW we’re going to dive right in. Take what you need and do it NOW.

Pro Tip: Don’t do this all at once. Choose one thing you can do now and work on it first. Then come back and pick another to work on. Then another. Look at it like building blocks—do what you can, master it, then move on to the next step.

Here’s your five step social media strategy

Step One: Decide on your objectives

Your options are endless here, but the key is choosing a goal. What are your social media goals? Why are you posting? You need something to keep you focused on the big picture so you keep moving towards your writing/business targets.

Here are a few objectives ideas: build your online profile, build brand visibility, networking, reach new clients/readers, stay connected with current clients/readers, launch products/books/services.

Remember, choose one and work on that first. Once you feel like you’ve mastered that objective move on to another, then another.

Step Two: Choose your social networks

I know you know. You don’t have to be everywhere. However. You do need to be online. It’s the modern marketplace. Since you can’t do it all, you must choose where to spend your social time/energy. There is a lot of advice out there for which networks have the biggest payoff but you will need to decide for yourself what works. A couple questions to consider when choosing your social networks: Where are you most comfortable online? Where are your clients/readers most comfortable online?

My two cents. If you’re a writer and trying to build your platform as a writer, I recommend Twitter, Facebook and Instagram as your networks of concentration.

Twitter

Yes people are saying Twitter is on its way out and yes it’s not the same as it was a few years ago. However. This is where you meet other writers. You know who else you meet on Twitter? People looking for writers. How you manage Twitter is an art in itself but once you have it set up, you will understand why I won’t let Twitter go.

Twitter is for quick interactions. It’s great for sharing helpful links, meeting new people, and getting ideas. However, it’s not a place to sell. You build relationships on Twitter, 140 characters at a time.

Facebook

This is where the largest concentration of people who are on social media are. Facebook. Join the conversation.

If you think of Facebook as a place to host/advertise events, join writers groups and share your blog posts and article clippings, it may start to make more sense.

However, this is not a place to vent your personal feelings about in-the-moment happenings. Yes you see people doing that all the time, but they’re not trying to build a professional brand and they’re using their personal profile to do that. If you think about your professional goals and aligning what you post on Facebook with them, you’ll know what you need to do.

Instagram

This is where your future fans and readers are. Trust me on this. It’s time to figure Instagram out.

Instagram is a wonderful place to connect with people as you build your brand. How? Consistency and engagement. That means YOU are consistent and YOU are engaging with others.

You can share your writing, post prompts or inspiration, and behind-the-scene peeks at your writer’s life. Images have a way of connecting people with you that words alone don’t. However, this is not a place to post your entire vacation photo album—not when you’re building your professional brand. This is also a place where you do need to engage and be active. If you don’t post and interact with other posts, you don’t grow.

Wondering how on earth to do this?

Read my post on how to build an Instagram strategy. This is one of my favourite social media services and I’ve seen this strategy work time and time again.

Remember: choose one social network and work on that first. Once you feel like you’ve mastered that social network move on to another, then another.

Step Three: Complete your social media profiles

Smack in the middle of your five step social media strategy is optimizing your profiles. This comes after you choose your social media platforms because I don’t just want you to complete your profiles but optimize them. How? I’m glad you asked! Read my post with five tips for optimizing your social media profiles.

But maybe you don’t have time to read another blog post. Here are the main points.

  • Choose a professional/standout profile picture and cover photo
  • Make it easy for people to know who you are/what you do
  • Link to your website
  • Include keywords about your services
  • Be clear on your location/contact info

My biggest tip for optimizing your social profiles is consistency across platforms.

Each network has its own rules for how long your bio can be, what sort of profile image works and where your website link goes, but if you can keep more or less consistent then you’re on the right track.

Step Four: Interact with your audience

We talked about this a bit in the Step Two of the five step social media strategy but it needs repeating. The point of social media is to be social.

I know, you don’t have time to be social. But do you have 15 minutes? Spend 15 minutes a day checking into your two or three chosen social networks and leave comments, reply to comments and lend your expertise whenever convenient. Trust me, this will expedite your brand building like nothing else will.

If you get nothing else from this five step social media strategy remember this: You’re not on social media to sell. You’re there to be social. Offer value, compliments and help. Sales will follow.

Step Five: Build your promotion strategy

All along we’ve been talking about how you DON’T sell on social media. But you do need promotion. There is a difference.

In most cases, clients/readers need to know, like and trust you before they’ll hire you/buy your book/work with you. In a virtual world, how do you make this happen? You need a strategy for converting warm leads into clients and retaining existing clients.

If you can stay in touch in a consistent, helpful, positive way, people who visit your website or connect with you on social will get to know you and will develop trust in you and your brand.

I know it as a “keep in touch strategy.”

I first heard about it when I read Michael Port’s Book Yourself Solid: The Fastest, Easiest, and Most Reliable System for Getting More Clients Than You Can Handle Even if You Hate Marketing and Selling. He suggests building an automated strategy using customer relationship management (CRM) software. While that’s something you can build up to, there’s lots you can do before investing in a CRM.

You’ll need to figure out a few things you can do to make people feel special, noticed, and important. Here are some ideas.

Passive ways to stay in touch

  • Posting regular blog/website content
  • Posting regular social content
  • Share real-life tips and tricks from behind the scenes of your business
  • Commenting on/liking/sharing others’ posts on social media

Active ways to stay in touch

  • Build an engaged email list and connect consistently
  • Send handwritten notes or cards
  • Live streaming—doesn’t get much more personal than that!
  • Initiate communication
  • Send an article you think your contact would appreciate (personal touch)
  • Become a connector—in helping your connections cross-promote or develop business otherwise (even if it’s without you) you will build so much good will
  • Share gratitude and compliments—recognize others, say thank you, give sincere, public displays of affection

Remember, this is a five step social media strategy but work on one step at a time. Once you feel like you’ve mastered that strategy move on to another, then another.

There, of course, is more. But you don’t have to do it all today. If you’re feeling like you don’t have time to be on social media or you’re overwhelmed with where to start, then please implement this five step social media strategy. It WILL help you! And if you are just plain stuck then I can help. All you have to do is get in touch.

Feeling overwhelmed by social media marketing? Here's your five step social media strategy, aka what to focus on when you don't have time to be social.

How to Build an Instagram Strategy

Today I’ll show you the basic outline for building an Instagram strategy. At least enough to get you started.

Today I'll show you the basic outline for building an Instagram strategy. At least enough to get you started. And yes, this is a how-to!

How to Build an Instagram Strategy

Everyone’s saying you need to build an Instagram strategy but it seem like no one is saying how, right?

I get it. The thing is, it’s hard as well as personal. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all photo-creating money-making Instagram strategy you can copy and paste into your marketing plan. I mean, people may tell you that and may even try and sell you that but I’m telling you, it’s something you have to build and customize to your specific brand.

BTW marketing plans, social media strategies and branding are whole other discussions.

But before the Instagram Strategy: WHY should you use Instagram?

At this moment one third of Internet users have an Instagram account so there’s an excellent chance your target audience is here. This is an opportunity to showcase and promote your services and brand to people who may not yet know about you and all you have to offer.

Instagram is an ideal tool to build a visual identity, telling your brand story through beautiful images, intriguing captions, and appropriate hashtags. When executed well, Instagram can help you develop a deeper connection with your audience.

General Posting Strategy

As a brand (and yes, if you sell something, you’re a brand), it’s important to follow a posting strategy to help your audience know how to think about you. Why should they follow you? How will you engage, inspire, or motivate them? What are some ways you can deepen your relationship with your audience through the images you post?

Think about these questions and jot down some answers.

The best way to create a strategy is by focusing on one area of your brand; choosing a niche. When choosing a niche ask these types of questions: What can you do better than your competitors? How about what will your audience find interesting, inspiring, or motivational? What is important for your audience to know? Find these answers and you’ll have your niche.

Once you’ve brainstormed a few ideas try writing a paragraph about your brand.

Here’s my (current) write up as an example:

I’m a professional writer with blogging, marketing and tourism experience. I also have a bachelor of journalism and diplomas in media and communications and biblical studies.


Unlike most business writers, I spent a decade working as an in-house writer, marketing manager, and audio producer at an international non-profit. Aside from working in a variety of roles, and with a range of personalities, this experience taught me how creating authentic marketing messages can build meaningful relationships and make emotional links with constituents.


I recommend thinking this through before asking a social media marketing strategist to help you create an Instagram strategy. You know your brand and goals best and by getting clear on your goals and who you serve ahead of time, your chances of creating a laser-focused strategy are that much more likely. If you want to learn more about this process check out my article on positioning.


Once you have your paragraph, think about what your Instagram posts should feature to showcase who you are and what you do. In my example, I aim to promote things I’m working on (freelance or personal), things I love (new discoveries, funny stories, interesting ideas, books I’m reading), and exclusive tips (for the freelance writer).

When thinking about what types of photos you’ll post keep in mind every post should drive people to your business and that your Instagram content is a reflection of your brand and core beliefs—your feed tells a larger story of who you are and what you stand for.

Jot down a few photo ideas before moving on. Don’t worry, these are still brainstorms for now.

Still stuck? Here are a few questions to help you.

  • What drives your business?
  • What are your biggest takeaways?
  • How will what you share enrich your followers’ lives?

HOW should your posts look, sound, and feel?

At all times your Instagram posts should speak to your audience, appealing to their interests. Your posts should engage them using thoughtful language intended to interest, inspire, or motivate them to take the next step with you. If you are promoting an event or contest take care to craft your caption in a way your audience will respond best—focus on the benefits instead of the promotion.

WHERE should you focus?

Your Instagram posts should focus on what your users will find interesting, inspiring, and motivational. What makes you or your business/services special and unique? What is there to discover? And what would your audience be interested in seeing?

WHEN should you post?

Posting consistency is more important than how often you post. However, Monday and Thursday are higher use days for Instagram in general so these are good days to aim for. Once you have your strategy in place use a free tool like Iconosquare or Websta to analyze your followers and learn what days and times they’re more likely to use Instagram and adjust your posting schedule as necessary.

WHAT should your posts consist of?

All posts should contain a photo, a caption, and hashtags.

  • Your photos must be high quality, with good framing, and interesting content. Photos should be planned and edited with third-party apps
  • Captions should tell your audience a story. At every step, take the opportunity to draw your audience in and point back to your strategy.
  • A good practice is to create a list of 10-20 hashtag relating to your business, brand, and products and reference several from the list each time you post

Using hashtags is a critical part of your posting strategy. By finding and using the most relevant hashtags for your updates, your posts will be exposed to users in your target audience who don’t yet follow you. You should mix brand-specific hashtags with more general hashtags. Instagram uses hashtags to organize and categorize content so by not using or misusing hashtags your posts could go unnoticed.

Follower Strategy

The best way to gain followers on Instagram is by having a great profile. Here are the elements.

  1. Description. Your profile description should reflect your niche and give the user enough information to be motivated to follow you
  2. Portfolio. When a new user visits your Instagram account s/he will often view your photo portfolio before choosing to follow you. You want to make sure your portfolio is not only filled with beautiful images but reflect your niche. If the user visits your portfolio and your portfolio is off topic or contains weak/poor images, it could prevent new followers
  3. Photos. Your photos should reflect your brand’s online voice and emotion related to it

Before taking a photo ask the question, “what do I do better than anyone else?” Find or take photos supporting your answer.

Before posting a photo ask the following questions:

  • Does this photo showcase my talent?
  • Is this photo interesting?
  • Is this photo on-brand?
  • And is this photo beautiful?

If the answer is yes, post away! If you’re not sure, don’t post the photo.

Posting quality images is more important than posting often. Beautiful images increase your brand value in the user’s eye while weak/poor images decrease your brand’s value in the user’s eye.

Follower Tactics | How to Build an Instagram Strategy

Once you’re clear on your target audience, and have your profile description, portfolio, and photos in line then you can begin following other users.

Follow

Search Instagram and find as many people in your target audience using keywords. Aim to follow 100 or 200 people to begin. Many will follow back out of courtesy but even if users don’t follow back you have gathered a pool of users to draw photo ideas from. Try to find new people to follow every time you log on to Instagram.

Like and Comment

Another way to gain followers is by liking and commenting on photos. A good strategy is to like and/or comment on three to five photos every time you log on to Instagram. Try to be encouraging, positive, and upbeat.

Also remember to respond to your followers comments on your photos. A quick “thanks” goes a long way. Remember to @ tag the follower you’re posting to.

Repost

Reposting other users’ images is a great way to showcase your brand without having to come up with all your own content (or your own social media manager!). Not only do you highlight and support Instagrammers but you add beautiful images to your portfolio extending your brand.

You can use repost apps, take screenshots and repost yourself, or save the image on your computer and manually add it to your mobile device before posting. Just be sure to give credit to the user you’re reposting (@ tagging) and add relevant hashtags.

Hashtags As part of an instagram strategy

Adding popular hashtags to every post will expand your reach and expose your images and profile to new users.

Adding brand-specific hashtags to every post and encouraging followers to use it in their posts helps you create community and cultivate loyalty. When your followers use your hashtag it exposes your brand to their audience, with the added bonus of the user’s advocacy.

Cross Posting

Cross promoting your Instagram posts on your other social media profiles like Facebook or Twitter exposes your followers there to your Instagram feed. You can also use your Instagram feed to encourage users to find you on your other profiles, provided you are using beautiful images with an interesting caption to relay the message.

Conclusion for How to Build an Instagram Strategy

There is a learning curve to Instagram, but by following a posting and follower strategy will get you a long way. As well, learning a few basics about photography, utilizing third-party apps and filters, and reposting will help you create an engaging portfolio as long as you stick to your niche and showcase the best of your brand.

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Today I'll show you the basic outline for building an Instagram strategy. At least enough to get you started. And yes, this is a how-to!

Meeting Your Ideal Client in Person | Getting It Right

Many freelance writers know their ideal client and are great at communicating online. But what if you’re meeting in person?

Ideal Client

Meeting Your Ideal Client…In Person

The introvert in me thinks maybe I can get by without having to meet clients or prospects in person or speak on the phone. Because I’m pretty good at ruining things in person with my awkwardness and inability to conquer small talk.

However, the business owner in me knows I can’t always hide behind a screen. Getting out there and spending time with clients and other freelancers is an important part of growing my business.

And if I can’t meet for coffee, how will I ever gain the confidence to attend a trade show or event or speak at a large conference?

Here are a few tips for getting public engagement right the first time.

Make Your Presence Stand Out

No matter the event, investing in some branding is a worthwhile expense. If it’s a booth at a trade show, a branded area will help you stand out, plus you can use it again and again. Some popular items include custom printed marquees, pop-up stands and table banners.

When Meeting Your Ideal Client, Have Something to Say

I find small talk difficult. I feel awkward and unsure of myself. But then I figured out a secret trick: work out anecdotes ahead of time. And when someone asks me about what I do and who I serve? Well, I also have my elevator pitch memorized.

Consider Offering Freebies

They work on your website so why wouldn’t the work in person? One of my freelancing friends has branded pens that she hands out to colleagues and clients. I love it! There are many reasons to invest in promotional products for your business, and the right promotional products will both be useful and will create a lasting impression. But don’t go overboard with the swag. Stick to a budget you can afford and regularly evaluate their impact.

Show confidence

Confidence is key when it comes to meeting with members of the public. Help your team to develop confidence when making sales or providing services to help make the right impression on your customers. Providing training, creating scenarios, etc. can all help your employees improve their confidence when meeting the public to give the best impression of your company from that first interaction.

Making a meaningful connection with your ideal client and networking with other freelancers can help you grow your business. As a classic form of marketing, you shouldn’t underestimate the value of going out there and meeting people face to face. What’s next on your list of ways to improve your business?

Many freelance writers know their ideal client and are great at communicating online. But what if you're meeting in person?

Discover Your Ideal Reader

No matter if you’re a freelance writer or an author, knowing who your ideal reader is will make a huge difference to your writing career.

Ideal Reader

What is an Ideal Reader?

This is a fictional persona to whom your writing will most appeal. While this is not a scientific process, creating a profile helps you write with purpose and enables you to craft elements into your writing that surprises and delights this person.

Your ideal reader represents who you are writing to. It’s one person, not many people. This is a specific process and if you do it right, your ideal reader will come alive in your mind.

What this means is you need to figure out who your ideal reader is, what his or her interests are, and why your ideal reader reads. Your most important question is why will your ideal reader be interested in your book? Whatever the why, all readers have one
and it’s your job to discover it for your ideal reader.

Your Ideal Reader is Your Biggest Fan

When you know who you’re writing to it gives your writing purpose and direction. This may seem like a strange exercise to go through but trust me, it’s a key step. Even if it’s a loose definition, think about the person (real or fictional) who would most be interested in reading your work.

ANSWER THESE QUESTIONS

  • What does this person tend to focus on?
  • On social media, what does your ideal reader like sharing about?
  • From what you can gather, what does he/she most need/want/desire?

Once you know the answers to those initial questions answer this one: what problem are you solving for your ideal reader through your writing?

Through thinking about your ideal reader you should have a few words and phrases jotted down. Take a look and add a few more words to the page. This time, write down things about your ideal reader. Noting things like hopes, dreams, challenges or family dynamics can help you paint a picture. It can be vague or specific, long or short. Just jot down as much as you can think of in a five-minute period.

Look at the list you came up with and compare it to your first one—are you seeing a character emerge? Write a biography for this person—whatever comes to mind with as much detail as you can include. Remember, this is a creative exercise. You’re trying to imagine who the person is who can’t wait to read what you write. The more human you can make this person, the better.

Here are a few marketing applications

In essence, marketing your writing is simple—put your writing in front of the people who will love it. If you have an idea of who your ideal reader is then finding those (real life) people is a lot easier. The more you know, the better.

  • What stores do they shop in? Now you know where to sell your work
  • Where do they hang out? Now you know where to hold workshops or readings
  • What is their favourite social media platform? Now you know where you need to be online
  • What are their biggest fears? Now you know how to help them
  • What do they care most about? Now you know how to relate to them
  • What type of marketing will they best respond to? Now you know what you need to do

There are a lot of ways you can find your ideal reader (or book buyer, or ideal client, etc.) so it’s important not just to parrot what you see others doing online but to find something that works for you and feels natural.

No matter if you're a freelance writer or an author, knowing who your ideal reader is will make a huge difference to your writing career.

Other helpful articles

SEO Tips and Tricks for Freelance Writers

While we may understand the importance of search engine optimization on an intellectual level, these SEO tips and tricks will (hopefully) help freelance writers understand how to vet a keyword to give their articles the best chance of being discovered.

SEO Tips and Tricks

SEO Tips and Tricks for Freelance Writers

Finding keywords is just the first step. Next is to figure out if it’s a good keyword or a bad keyword. But what does that mean?

Here’s how I like to think about good versus bad keywords. A good keyword means if I use it my article will have a chance of being discovered on the Internet. A bad keyword means it’s too competitive so don’t use it.

Keyword vetting to me means this. If I write an article about the keyword I’ve selected, will it have a chance to hit the first page of Google?

How to vet a keyword | SEO Tips and tricks

Once I’ve brainstormed my keyword ideas I take my top ones to KWFinder and do a quick check for difficulty.

It’s a simple keyword research tool to use—you pop in your word or phrase into the search bar and then click “Find Keywords.” A few seconds later your results populate and you can consider your options.

I thought I’d include a couple screenshots from my research for this post. After doing my initial research I was down to two key phrases for this post: SEO tips and tricks or keyword research tools. My results? The keyword “SEO tips and tricks” is possible to rank for with a difficulty score of 39 out of 100. The keyword “keyword research tools” is hard to rank for with a difficulty score of 61 out of 100. You can see these results on the right-hand side of the screenshot.

On the left-hand side of the screenshot you can see variations on the keyword and the difficulty associated with it. It helps you see what people are already ranking for and helps you come up with a strong direction to go with your article.

Final thoughts about seo tips and tricks

If you want to try KWFinder out there is a free account, which gives you five keyword searches every 24 hours. It’s a commitment-free way to try out the tool and decide if it’s a good fit for your writing flow.

You can make search engine optimization as complicated as you want. And you can make keyword research as expensive as you want. There are a lot of shiny objects in this world. But until you’re ready for that level of SEO, I suggest taking a simplified approach to vetting keywords.

Do you have a process for vetting keywords? I’d love to hear about it!

SEO Tips and Tricks: At some point in your writing career you'll be asked about finding keywords or SEO (search engine optimization). To be clear, SEO is a marketing skill, which writers may or may not have. So you're off the hook there. That said, it's a good idea to become acquainted with the concept as it will make you more valuable to your clients.