Social Media 101 for Entrepreneurs and the Self-Employed

Joanna Kelleigh
6 minutes
January 12, 2024

For Entrepreneurs

There is no denying that social media outlets are valuable tools to use in your marketing activities. However, the key to success for business owners is to sensibly plan the time they spend on social media.

You will need to consider what kinds of social media you will be using, what kind of content to make and how often to post. Pacing out social media activities prevents overflowing your audience with information.

The challenge of keeping things fresh

On social media, keeping the content fresh can also be a challenge. Ask yourself: Is there a way to run a fundraising campaign for a worthy cause? Is your office willing to collect items for the food bank? Perhaps you have decided to set up recycling bins for items like batteries and light bulbs and returnable beverage containers that your clients can also use. Or perhaps your office can set up a contest. Maybe your workplace has had some improvements or a new mural was painted on the building. Perhaps you can get a project happening with your contacts. Maybe you can put out an announcement for sales or discounts coming up.

Showing that you care

Social media offers a great opportunity for your business to celebrate causes, fundraisers and community events that you are a part of. It is a great way to support those you network with, as you can celebrate their successes and contributions to the world as well. And of course you can use it to create networking opportunities to keep the banter going with your contacts. Besides this, being supportive of your community and charitable events tells your staff, suppliers and clients that you care about making a difference.

Capturing the surge of inspiration

Quite often an idea for a social media campaign or a topic you'd like to cover will come to mind, but you might find yourself out of time to follow-up on it just yet. Jot that idea down so that you can come back to it later. This way no opportunity is missed.

Before rushing out with random posts it is important to decide just how you plan to create excitement about each event and what you are expecting as a result.

Here's another tip: Have a couple of documents on your desktop with social media blurbs you and your staff have created during brainstorm sessions. It will make your social media effort well-organized and it will be easy to post items during the peak times of the day.

The ideal time to post

So what are the best times of day to post? That really depends on who you are targeting - their age, their interests, etc. For business the best days to post on Facebook are Thursdays and Fridays between 11 AM and 1 PM (Pacific). 11 AM will bring in more shares, while closer to 1 PM will get more likes and link clicks. For Twitter, posting between 11 AM and 1 PM - during the lunch hours - is the best time. However, weekends show 30% more activity on Twitter. Due to typical business activities during the week, the best days to post on LinkedIn are Tuesdays and Thursdays. The best time frames for scheduling LinkedIn posts are between 5-6:30 AM and 3-5 PM (Pacific). If you are using Google+, posts scheduled on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, between 7-9 AM are the most effective.

Managing multiple social media outlets

Regardless of what time frame you have decided to work with, and no matter how many social media outlets you choose to be active on, being on social media is rewarding in and of itself. If you are on many different outlets and find the idea of having to show up right on time just for the sake of making a post overwhelming, there are a couple of options worth considering. Assign a staff member (or pay your child) to perform this duty for you. Alternatively, set an alarm on your cell phone to remind yourself to post on specific days. When you get very busy, there are numerous online services that allow you to schedule posts for automatic publication well in advance.

One of these automated solutions is our very own Ocoya! Since it allows you to schedule your posts in advance, you'll never have to worry about having to jump out of bed in the middle of the night just to make it in time. After logging in, simply select "Posts" from the main menu on the left:

Ocoya schedule post - select posts

Then, select "Create new".

Ocoya schedule post - create new

In the main window, enter the content of your post.

Ocoya schedule post - create content

Choose the social media channels you want it to be posted to. For this example, we've selected Facebook, but you could very well choose to post the exact same content to multiple different social media networks if you'd like.

Ocoya schedule post - choose social media channels

Next, locate the "Schedule" button to the right.

Ocoya schedule post - schedule button

Pick your desired time and date for the post to go live.

Ocoya schedule post - pick time and date

Finally, press the big green button to the right and leave it to Ocoya to post it at the right time!

Ocoya schedule post - confirm selection
Consider your target demographics

The way you use social media will vary depending on the medium (Instagram, etc.) and the kind of product, service or campaign you are currently working on, and the type of person you are trying to reach. Consider what time your target audience is online, how old they are, what they are doing when they are online, how long they are online and when their curiosity usually peaks. Perhaps a customer survey can help you determine this.

By doing these suggested activities you'll notice your time on social media will be better spent, and your activities will pay off much more.

For the Self-Employed

Self-employed and home-based business owners continue to debate the value of social media. While there's no doubt that there are benefits to listing your business on social media, it is equally important to avoid making mistakes and time-wasters.

Building your business on a solid foundation

A strong business platform ensures every facet of your business venture is efficient and effective. Scheduling social media post is a valuable aspect of growing your business platform. What is a platform? Picture building an outdoor band stage in the middle of an empty field - there is a lot of thought and planning that goes into designing a stage that looks just right. How much weight will it carry and how large will it be? Then there's the cost of supplies, services and skills that you may have to acquire or outsource. When you are finally able to stand on that stage, you test it and find it is solid - it doesn't shake around underneath you and you don't have to go back and fix mistakes. Your platform is everything that makes it go. Now you can leap forward to the next level of your business plan.

Avoiding the pitfalls

There are plenty of dangers that can lurk unseen when it comes to using social media. For instance: the mistake of becoming buried in entertaining and educational posts and videos. Blurring the lines between personal entertainment and business activities can waste a lot of precious time.

Business owners need to take a good look at who the prospective client is. Having this information on hand will help you decide on visual design, color, imagery, the social media outlets you might use as well as the actual content. It is best to determine, from the very start, what your purpose is when using any particular social media outlet. You might use Facebook differently than Instagram, for instance.

When signing up for an account on any social media outlet, pay attention to the profile page where you can post additional imagery, color scheme or your logo. Review your profiles annually at the very least. You want the information to be up-to-date, easy to find, attractive to clients and for it to reflect the purpose of your social media presence. You also want to avoid looking stale, out of date or no longer in business.

Separate personal and business matters

Personal social media matters should be viewed as separate. During business hours it is vital that you don't even look at your personal pages or respond to messages from them. It is the same as chatting on the phone with your girlfriend all day at work - don't do it! Staff should be trained with this in mind, and if they post on behalf of your business it should be through the business accounts - not their personal accounts.

Avoid mixing personal with business matters on any level, unless the topic pertains to the business, its policy, mission or staff. Business media should not feature your personal activities, personal opinions, political views, cute and silly videos, or pictures of you on vacation, your children or family. Remember the purpose of using social media for business purposes is to attract clients and interact with other businesses and networks.

Respect your followers' time

That being said, people who have connected with you on social media are there because they enjoy reading your posts and browsing helpful videos. They certainly don't want to see fluff that wastes their time, inappropriate content or to be 'sold to' all the time either. Finding a good balance as to where and when you sell to the audience is very important.

Be sure your (and your employee's) personal online presence is not offensive to clients either. If your staff is listed on your website and someone checks out their social media profiles only to find that their Facebook page reveals inappropriate images, it can (and will) affect your business.

People also want to be heard - so invite them to share their opinions and suggestions on your posts or to reach out to you via a private message. Your response to their feedback gives them a sense of being respected, recognized and appreciated.

An opportunity to link back to your website

Another positive aspect of using social media is that every time your site is listed it becomes a backlink. Every time someone views your post and follows the link back to your site, your site gains valuable and highly targeted traffic. So, when used sensibly, social media can most definitely be used to your advantage and make your marketing efforts go a long way.

Everything considered, social media is a fantastic choice for entrepreneurs and self-employed alike. Learn to harness its power and you'll be getting new clients in no time.

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