If I could send a letter to myself back in 2017 (when I first started breaking into social media management), these are the eight things I've learned that I would pass on...
Recognise the difference between working on and in your business, and schedule time for both.
There are two types of work when you're a business owner - working on your business and working in it - and it's important to recognise the difference. Working in your business refers to anything that creates income (e.g. creating content for a client)and should take up 60% to 70% of your time. In contrast,
working on your business means doing tasks that keep the business running (e.g. reviewing your business strategy) and should take up 30% to 40% of your time.
In my opinion, it is especially important to recognise this difference and allocate time carefully if your business is service-based (e.g. social media management) because it's easy to get caught up in your work for others and neglect the in-business tasks.
Don't sweat the unfollows
When I first started managing professional accounts on Instagram, like many people, I fell into the trap of checking my follower count way too frequently and (even worse) stressing whenever the number dipped. But then I learned that unfollows aren't always bad; there are two positive reasons why people may unfollow you:
because your content no longer speaks to them (e.g. maybe they're moving countries and your content will no longer be helpful),
because they were engaging in the follow-for-follows strategy (so you're not losing an actual potential customer).
Word-of-mouth is an efficient way of gaining clients.
When I first started, I spent a lot of time worrying about growing my client base but I had underestimated the power of word-of-mouth. I thought I would be spending a lot of time and money on posters, paid ads, cold-calling, etc. Instead, networking and keeping my clients happy has proved more beneficial. While other methods of marketing my business are still required, the vast majority of my clients come to me because of another person's recommendation.
If you are still growing your client base, I highly recommend joining a Networkers group. I gained two clients within my first month of attending Networkers meetings!
Check usernames across platforms.
Before you decide on a username for one platform (or even before you decide on a business name), check you can get the same username across all the social media platforms you will be using. Having a consistent username will make it easier for your target audience to connect with you across multiple platforms.
Imposter syndrome is real...
... and it can be a bitch! There have been many times where I have felt like I don't belong, that I'm not experienced enough, or that the quality of my work isn't good enough. I have learned, however, that we can never know everything (especially in the fast-changing world of social media marketing) and mistakes should be expected rather than feared. Almost everyone I know in this business experiences imposter syndrome at one point or another, no matter their years of experience, number of followers, or size of their paycheck. But we don't have to get stuck in this mindset; this article gives six tips for overcoming imposter syndrome.
Flexibility is essential.
Social media managers talk a lot about planning content and scheduling posts but, on some occasions, you will need to retain some flexibility. Planning, batching, and scheduling are three crucial elements of a strong social media presence but no amount of planning will help when you need to be responsive to current events.
Beware of the misinformation.
We all know we shouldn't just believe everything we read on the internet but what about advice and tips from experts? When I first started getting into social media, I deemed any other social media manager with more followers than me to be an expert. Despite being a generally skeptical person, I ate up everything these bigger accounts advised because I thought follower count or years of experience guaranteed 100% factual and evidence-based information. Unfortunately, the social media marketing world is not immune to misinformation and many professionals will believe and reshare something just because they've seen it shared 100 times (e.g. the myth that you need to engage with other accounts for a certain amount of time).
So how do we avoid misinformation?
Remember that correlation does not equal causation
Remember that just because a tactic worked for another person (or even several), it doesn't mean it will work for you. Every business is different as is every target audience.
Do a quick search to see if the BIG names are sharing the same advice. My go-to is checking Hootsuite's blog because they often will test out these marketing theories on a massive scale to assess whether the theory will work across the board or if it was just a fluke.
Inclusivity and accessibility is important!
Did you know that approximately one third of individuals (32%) reported personally having an experience of mental distress at some point in their lives (source: Health Promotion Agency) and approximately 24% of kiwis live with a disability (source: Stats NZ)? That's a massive portion of the population living with a condition that means they may interact with and view the world differently to you. Add to this the many different cultures, sub-cultures, religions, and age groups, and it's easy to see why we need to talk about inclusivity. So I suggest asking two questions of yourself:
Is my content accessible to as many people as possible?
Is my content inclusive or does it only show able-bodied people who represent the majority culture?
I wrote a blog post a few weeks back with 21 ways to be more inclusive with your socials content but here's a few quick tips to start you off:
Use person-first language because people are not their disability or illness; they are so much more!
When writing your captions, try to break up your larger paragraphs and avoid long, complicated sentences. Those in your audience who live with dyslexia or other processing disorders often find it much easier to read smaller chunks.
Add alt. text or image descriptions so that people with low vision or blindness aren’t missing out.
Did you find this topic interesting? Check out Hanna Rauch's podcast episode, 'The Mistakes I Made When I First Started Out With Social Media'.