If you'd asked me 6 months ago what my biggest tip towards growing an social media following for your business was, I'd have told you: scheduling your posts in advance. So that makes the title of this blog post rather controversial... because I'm not scheduling my own social media posts anymore.
Social media is always shifting, and changing. Pretty much every single platform is ruled by an algorithm, which we, the users, know very little about. It's all kept top secret by the Facebook Gods! With that in mind, a couple of months ago, scheduling your posts was a must. Now though, things have moved on again, and with that move, we must adapt.
I started to question whether I should be scheduling my posts towards the end of 2017. For almost 4 years, I've been an avid scheduler. I've used every platform out there: Hootsuite, Buffer, Facebooks internal scheduler, Planoly. The list goes on an on. I began to notice a drop in engamement on my scheduled posts, and if I'm honest, I was just a bit bored of the process. It felt fake, like I wasn't really connecting with my followers and I wanted that to change.
So I tested it out. I spent one week in October posting to Instagram whenever I remembered, and whatever was on my mind that day. I saw an immediate change in engagement, and suddenly I found myself wanting to interact with people more on the app!
It's almost like Instagram wanted me to feel that way ;) (side note: it does).
So what is my reasoning behind this change, and should you follow suit? Let's break it down.
1. Authenticity: I know, I think this is the buzz word of 2017/2018... but guess what? It's TRUE. . People are clever now a days, then can tell what's planned in advance, whats a marketing tactic. They've been so overused and overdone that no one is falling for old tricks. That's not to say that you shouldn't use the odd marketing tactic here and there; they exist for a reason. But people can tell more than ever before when you're marketing to them, and when you're just sharing.
2. Engagement: If you, as a follower, read a post which has clearly been written that day about a topic you resonate with, you're more likely to engage with the post. If you read something which feels a bit planned, rehearsed, not *authentic,* your interest drops off. How do I know? Cause I've noticed it in myself. Engagement is the number one thing we should all be striving for on social media, whether thats on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, anywhere. It's what pushes your posts up to the top of people's feeds! In the moment posts definitely engage people more.
3. Algorithms: It used to be that to grow a following, all you had to do was post 3 times a day on Instagram, or 20 times a day on Twitter, and your following would grow. Now that peoples feeds are no longer very chronological, that trick is useless. In fact, posting less is now favourable to posting more, especially on Instagram. Why? Because the first image you post of the day (say at 8am) will now show up in people's feeds for many hours (if it gets good engagement), not just for an hour or two. If you post again at 12pm, Instagram will pretty much stop showing your original image to your followers, because you've posted a new one. Give it a go, post a bit less and see how it affects your engagement.
4. Use Recurpost: Are you still noticing scheduled posts on my Facebook page and Twitter feed? Yep, you're right, only I'm no longer doing it manually. I'm using an amazing tool called Recurpost! Anna, from The Cornish Life, was the one who let me in on this. Essentially, you put in your content/blog posts/tweets, whatever you want to share, and set up a schedule for it, and Recurpost will forever share that post in that order. It's a magical tool, which means that some of my old blog posts will always get read and reshared!
5. Use Prime for Instagram: Time of day is less relevant in my opinion than it used to be when it comes to sharing on Instagram. Sharing first thing in the morning, at lunch time and in the evening used to be the go to. Now though, you want to be posting when as many of your followers are online at possible, and only once a day. It's hard to know when to do that, so I've been using an app called Prime which looks at when my followers are online the most (on average). I simply take a look first thing in the morning, and post then. If I forget, I get a little notification to remind me! If I've got nothing to say: I don't post.
6. Remember to Still "Jab Jab Jab Right Hook": If you're a GaryVee fan, you'll know what this term means. If you're not, I'll break it down for you. Jab Jab Jab Right Hook is the idea that before we sell anything to our followers, with give them LOADS of free, amazing, interesting, engaging content. After loads of free content (jabs), we can then sell to them (the right hook). It's important that even though I'm scheduling less, I remember this concept. I find selling really hard, and have a tendency to only "jab" at my followers, so I regularly have to remind myself to throw a "right hook!" I try to make sure I post at least one or two right hooks a week on my social media platforms, just to remind people that they can book me for photographic services!
7. Use Instagram Stories: Obviously this is only a tip relevant to Instagram, but I cannot stress enough how important the use of Stories is! I don't schedule my posts, but I try to show up on Instagram Stories at least once a day, if not more. It's the perfect place to share things that don't suit your grid, and I find it's where people are engaging with each other far more. Read this post on 10 ways to use Instagram Stories to boost your business!
Who Should Still Schedule Their Posts?
Before we all get carried away and think that we can get away with sitting back and letting Instagram do its own thing, I need to stress something. If you are super new to using social media in a business context, or you've still not quite got the hang of it yet, please continue to schedule your posts. Until you know for certain that you've got a good habit, you know what your tone of voice is, what you want to say, etc, please still use the tools to schedule your posts like Hootsuite, Buffer, Planoly, etc.
The main reason that I am able to not schedule at the moment is partially because I'm a bit obsessed with social media and using it as a tool for business, that I very rarely forget to post. In fact, I'll admit that I find it hard to sometimes post LESS because I want to share so much.
If you're new to this, sit down once a week for an hour (thats all it takes!), plan out your posts whilst thinking of your ideal client, what you want to say, and the Jab Jab Jab Right Hook technique.
The Exceptions to the rule:
1. Pinterest: Pinterest isn't actually a social media platform, it's a search engine! And in order to show up on Pinterest, you need to be continuously sharing content. I've written a few posts about Pinterest, and how to schedule your pins in advance to feel free to read that!
2. Holidays: Whenever I go away, I like to make sure that I've got my upcoming blog posts scheduled to Facebook and Twitter, as well as a few Instagram posts already written out and ready to go. Because let's face it, the ball needs to keep rolling, but I'm going to be in holiday mode!
Time Will Tell
I should note that this is still an experiment for me, and my view on scheduling vs. not scheduling may well change in the future! If it does, and I decide that scheduling is the way forward, and I will write a post on that and let you all know.
So there you go, a bit of insight into how I'm now using social media. What do you think? Are you still scheduling or are you giving posting "in the moment" a go? Let me know in the comment section!