It can be tempting to put your business up on all of the social media platforms out there.
Don’t do it. At least not at first.
Join us in this three-part series, where we dive into your return on investment with social media, in terms of time, relevance, and money. Today, we help you figure out which platforms to focus on first.
As you develop your brand and presence online, you should post on no more than three platforms, and your time and energy should be prioritized based on where your customers spend their time.
You do know where your customers spend their time on social media, right?
Choose Your Social Media Platforms
There are many ways to figure out where your target audience hangs out on social media, including answering these questions:
- If you are part of your target market, which social media platforms do you enjoy the most? Spend the most time on?
- Research on which social media platforms your best and biggest competitors post. (While you’re at it, see what they post, how often, and the engagement they receive. This may be useful in the next step.)
- See which social media platforms your five best customers use.
- Google “Where do [your niche audience] hang out online?”
- Find out how large and active communities related to your business and target audience are on each platform by looking at community hashtags, groups, etc.
After reviewing all of your notes, choose 1-3 platforms that are best fit for your target audience. If you chose more than one, put them in order of importance.
This is where you will build your audience through social media content. If you already have profiles built on any of these platforms, then you know where to focus your time and energy to grow your presence.
Social Media Content Creation
No matter which platforms you choose, there are two key components of efficiency in the creation process:
Batching and Repurposing
Your social media process should be in batches of brainstorming, writing, graphics, scheduling, analyzing. After investing time brainstorming, writing posts and designing graphics, you can adjust the posts for your second and (if applicable) your third platform. As you get more adept, you can include the platform tailoring in your batch creation time.
Let’s talk more about each of the social media management stages.
When deciding what to put in your posts, think about what your audience finds useful and valuable. You could just pitch your offers, but you will have more success if you surround your promotional posts with those that provide value, education and inspiration to your audience (without asking them to buy anything).
Spend a few hours brainstorming content ideas with these prompts:
- What are your audience’s biggest pain points? Their biggest objections to solutions like yours? Write those down then write down how you solve or address each one.
- Write down what your clients will need to help them through your buyer’s journey.
- What types of posts do your competitors post that do well in terms of engagement?
- Google “blog ideas for [your niche]” and note good ideas that can be addressed in your posts.
- Ask your current customers what they like to see or want to see on social media.
- Research holidays, national days/weeks/months, and significant events in your life and your customers’ lives.
- Find pop culture references your target audience loves and think of ways to tie them to your product or service.
Writing and Graphics
These two activities may be swapped depending on your business and how you gain inspiration, but essentially caption writing and graphic creation should both be batched separately (either by one person doing them in separate time blocks or by different team members).
If you are not skilled at graphic design, then a tool like Canva is a great resource for staying on-brand with thousands of templates to jump-start your graphic. Simple design is always a good rule of thumb for maintaining a clean look.
The time it takes to create a social media post will vary greatly on platform, content, expectations of the audience and your writer and/or designer. It may take 15 minutes to create each post or it may take an hour. As time goes on (and your strategy is refined), you will find a good estimate for your team. However, your time and energy should reflect the ROI you see on each platform (which we dive deeper into in our third post in this series!).
Here’s where repurposing comes in. You may need to make adjustments for each platform (e.g., photo size or caption approach), but in essence, the meat of your content can be leveraged on all platforms.
Schedule your posts in a batch, for example for the next month. Whether this is in a scheduling tool like Hootsuite, Later or on your own calendar with reminders, you need a process for posting consistently to begin engaging and building your audience. If you have post ideas that come up after a batch is scheduled or inspiration strikes and you want to post, adjust your schedule and add in your new post! The main goal is to batch the bulk of the work so you have the time and energy for other activities that build your business.
Periodically (we recommend at least once a month), use your platform’s insights or scheduling tool to see which posts did best and how they were successful, then try to figure out why. In your next batch of posts, incorporate elements or topics that did well the previous month. (We discuss social media goals and targets in Part 3 of this series!)
Ideal Social Media Post Length by Platform
Below, we share what social media experts say about how long your posts should be on each platform and the best days and times to post them. Each platform has various ways to share content—from static posts to video to short-lived stories. Social media apps seem to favor users who quickly. adopt new features, so you (or your social media manager) will want to stay updated on the features of your chosen platforms.
- Description: Where many Millennials like to hang out (and participate in a more mainstream TikTok)
- Post type: Single Post, Carousel Post (up to 10 images or videos under 1 minute), Reel, Story, IGTV (video between 1 minute and 60 minutes), Guide
- Ideal Post Length: 138-150
- Include in Posts: Photos, video, up to 30 hashtags (those some sources say 9 is ideal), mentions of other accounts, emojis, shop items
- Description: Where everyone from Baby Boomers to Gen Z stay “connected,” but the older the user, the more they rely on this platform
- Post Types: Post, Story
- Ideal Post Length: 40-80 characters
- Include in Posts: Text only, photos, video, links, 1-3 hashtags (if the topic is trending or large), mentions/tags of other accounts, emojis, shop items
LinkedIn Profile or Company Page
- Description: Where professionals go to find jobs, employees, connections and referrals
- Post Types: Post, Story, Article (plus Products on the Company Page)
- Ideal Post Length: 50-100 characters in a post, 1.9k-2k words in an article
- Include in Posts: Text only, photo, video, links, mentions/tags of other accounts, 3-5 hashtags
- Description: Where DIYers find ideas, inspiration, how-tos and resources
- Post Types: Image, Video
- Ideal Post Length: 735 pixels wide by 1102 pixels tall pin image or video size; 200-character description
- Include in Posts: Text, one link, keywords for search, mentions/tags of other accounts, shop items
- Description: Where you can find videos about any topic for any mood or skill level
- Post Types: Video
- Ideal Video Length: 3 minutes, but this is highly dependent on your content and audience
- Include in Posts: Cards and end cards, up to 15 hashtags (although 3 looks best), links in the description, timestamps and chapters (for longer videos), keywords for search in title and description
- Description: Where people share quick and insightful opinions and information (and participate in a more mainstream Reddit)
- Post Types: Single Tweet, Tweet thread, Fleet
- Ideal Post Length: 71-100 characters
- Include in Posts: Text only, links, photos, videos, 2 hashtags, mentions of other accounts, GIFs
The longer you post and look at results, the better you can adjust and deliver content your audience truly wants to see.
Trying to go viral? The rule of thumb for most platforms is to post relevant, recent, relatable content often. Viral posts aren’t typically one-and-done affairs. In recent years, it’s become more common for viral posts to cross platforms, like a Tweet going viral on Instagram, a YouTube video going viral on Facebook or a Facebook meme going viral on Instagram.
It’s also worth noting that every platform offers paid ads or promotions to expand your reach with a target audience even further.
When Should I Post on Social Media?
Now that you know which platforms you need to prioritize and the type of content you should test with your audience, let’s talk about how often you should post and when. (Note: Although the times below are in U.S. Eastern Time, generally users will be active during these times in their respective time zones.)
- Post Frequency: 1 per day
- Best Days & Times: Tuesday between noon and 3 p.m.; Monday through Friday at noon
- Post Frequency: 1 per day
- Best Days & Times: Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday between 8 a.m. to noon
- Post Frequency: 1 per day
- Best Days & Times: Tuesday through Thursday between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.
- Post Frequency: 10-25 per day
- Best Days & Times: Friday and Saturday between 9 p.m. to midnight
- Post Frequency: 2 per week
- Best Days & Times: Thursday and Friday between 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
- Post Frequency: 7-15 per day
- Best Days & Times: Wednesday between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.; Tuesday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.
If you post on a platform more than once a day, spread out your posting times to avoid annoying your followers. You may not post this many times the platforms you choose, but the most important thing is to be consistent every week.
Social media should not be a chore. With a strategy, plan, system and process in place, you can create a good cadence that works for you, your audience, and the platforms’ algorithms.
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(Next: Read Part 2: How Long Are Social Media Posts Relevant? or skip ahead to Part 3: What is the Return on Investment and How Do I Measure It?)