The Truth About Automating Social Media Content

The Truth About Automating Social Media Content

Automation has become a huge buzzword in the marketing industry in the past few years. And why wouldn’t it? With people managing more responsibilities in the workplace than ever, it makes sense that marketers are trying to find ways to work smarter, not harder. Personally, I love automating social media content. With some simple planning, it’s easy to pinpoint which holidays you want to run content for or sales/products you want to consistently promote.

BUT.

Automating content doesn’t mean you get to forget about your content completely. You still have work to do.

More and more social media marketers are using automation tools as an excuse to be lazy. Especially when it comes to social media content. Why spend time checking on trending content every day for unique posts, when you scheduled social media content that self publishes daily one month ago?

Social media marketers can also run into issues when they miss trending content, or share inappropriate content that had been previously scheduled when breaking news occurs. Most recently, brands ran into this issue in the United States when George Floyd was murdered in Minnesota and light was being shed on the Black Lives Matter movement. Many businesses (and influencers) were suddenly under fire for posting their regularly scheduled content instead of speaking on racism in America.

For business owners, automation has other dangers. I get it, running a business is A LOT of work. It’s time consuming and posting on social media seems like the least important thing on your to-do list for the day. In that sense, automation has its perks. The problem occurs when businesses use automated content as an excuse to stop checking their social media accounts. After all, you know content is being published…. and that’s the most important part of social media, right? WRONG.

Social media channels like Facebook and Instagram were created to foster connections with your friends and audiences, NOT to recycle the same content over and over again in the hopes that someone will buy your product of service. Engagement is key on social media, and if you’re using automated content on social media as an excuse to stop checking social media or talking to your audience, you are doing it wrong.

I’m a fan of automated content. But I only use it for my own brand accounts and pages, and I only schedule content a week in advance. For my clients, I schedule content DAILY to ensure that the content being shared is timely and relevant to our target audience. In addition to scheduling content, I am constantly monitoring notifications for messages from followers, new comments, etc, so that I can engage quickly and create a dialogue that will build the relationship between the business and the customer – something a simple post cannot do.

If you want to make sure you are spending your time effectively when it comes to managing your social media content and presence, I recommend doing these things:

  1. Schedule evergreen content. Evergreen content is content that doesn’t go out of date. Examples include testimonials, information about services, product highlights, etc. (Note: It is possible to overshare this content on social media, so use sparingly ie weekly or monthly)
  2. Schedule 15 minutes at the end of the day for engagement. Before you sign off for the day, take 15 minutes to go through your engagement notifications. Ideally, you would do this more than once throughout the day, but sometimes things get busy.
  3. Determine what trending holidays you want to post for in advance. Fun holidays like Take Your Dog to Work Day, or National Wine Day are often the same every year. Do your research in advance and include the trending holidays you want to share a post for in your annual content strategy so you know when it’s coming.
  4. Keep a library of content you can use in a pinch. In your downtime, find or create unique content like blog posts or graphics that can be shared when you’re running low on content. I use Google Drive to store my content, but many scheduling programs allow you to save content directly to their program as well.

The takeaway here is that automating doesn’t mean forgetting about it completely. Schedule evergreen content when you can, but don’t forget that the key to building relationships and trust with your followers and potential customers is to present timely, relevant content and engage with your audience. If you’re pressed for time and don’t have the capacity to prioritize keeping up with your social media channels, shoot me an email today and find out how I can help.

Infographic: Elements of a Marketing Strategy

Infographic: Elements of a Marketing Strategy

Earlier this week, I dropped some hard truths about your marketing strategy and why it’s failing. Today, I wanted to share some other essential elements your strategy needs to be a fully developed, comprehensive plan of action.

Keep in mind the elements listed below are not the only things you’ll need to incorporate into your marketing strategy, but they’re the key pieces you’ll need to include to run a successful campaign. Need help developing your annual strategy for 2021? Shoot me an email today to learn about my strategic services.

This May Be Why Your Strategy Is Failing

This May Be Why Your Strategy Is Failing

You’ve done the work. You’ve identified your business goals and developed a strategy (with flawless execution) but you aren’t seeing results. After hours of work and planning to build a strategy that will yield results, you scrap your entire the entire thing and consider it a failure. Now you’re discouraged and convinced digital marketing just doesn’t work for your business and go back to your old business model and marketing plan because having some plan – any plan – is better than having nothing at all.

Sound familiar?

Too often marketing strategies fail to yield any return on investment. But before you scrap your entire strategy, or give up on digital marketing altogether, take a second and think about this.

Your target audience is probably wrong.

You read that right. Many times business owners focus on their ideal target market instead of their actual customer demographics. I’ve touched on this in previous posts before, but it is so important as freelancers and small business owners to separate the idea of what your target audience should be from who your target audience actually is.

Fortunately, with a little market research you can pinpoint your primary target audience to ensure your marketing strategy yield positive results. If your marketing strategy isn’t hacking it in terms of sales, take a look at the market research you conducted while developing your strategy and consider if you had the right target audience.

Do you need help assessing whether or not your marketing strategy is operating successfully? Shoot me an email today to schedule your free one on one consultation.

For Freelancers: Get Clients Without Cold Calling

For Freelancers: Get Clients Without Cold Calling

Cold calling sucks. There, I said it. For me, there is nothing more anxiety inducing than calling strangers on the phone to ask them to meet for a pitch. In fact, knowing that I would likely have to cold call clients was the one thing that kept me from starting my business a year earlier than I did. When I finally took the leap and started my freelancing business, I knew that pitching was inevitable, but I was determined to avoid cold calling at all costs. Thankfully, with a bit of creativity, I’ve managed to sign every client I currently work with WITHOUT cold calling.

Today I am sharing some of my favorite sales tactics to pitch my services without making a single cold call.

Offer Referral Discounts to Current Clients

Referral based marketing tactics can vary, but at its core, it’s a way to get your biggest fans to help spread the word about your brand. Unintentionally, when I started my business referral based marketing was the most popular way I earned new clients. In fact, 8 months into starting my business, a good 85% of my clients are referrals.

How did I earn referrals from clients? I asked them, plain and simple. Any time I am ready to scale my business and expand my client roster I let me current clients know that I am taking on new clients and I offer them a one time discount on their monthly services for any business they refer that ends up becoming a client.

If you are confident about the client relationships you have and the services you’ve offered, feel free to mention to clients that you are looking to expand your client list – but don’t harass them for referrals either. Personally, I choose to notify clients about referral discounts in the initial welcome packet I send out at the beginning of our contract term, and in quarterly newsletters/emails. After that, I only bring it up if they specifically mention that they know someone in need of the services I offer. (Though if clients are looking for a way to save some money on their monthly bill, I will notify them of discounts they can take advantage of, referrals being one of them.)

Search Job Listings

This is one of my favorite ways to earn clients. I spend a couple of hours every week on LinkedIn searching job postings for part time marketing opportunities. Utilizing this tactic is not 100% guaranteed, as some companies will ultimately decide to hire someone in house for their marketing needs, but it is a good way to get your foot in the door with the hiring business to start a dialogue about your freelance services. A lot of companies that are looking for part time work have limited budgets and are often open to a discussion about the services you offer and your monthly rates. Pro Tip: Depending on their monthly needs, your freelance rates are often comparable or lower than what they would need to pay someone as a company hire, mention that in your cover letter to peak their interest.

Utilize Third Party Platforms

No doubt you’ve heard about Fiverr before. Sites like Fiverr connect businesses with freelancers. These sites are a great way to get your foot in the door when you don’t have a large client base to rely on referral marketing. I personally choose to use third part platforms to connect with non-profits to offer my services pro-bono. Because I offer my services for free to non-profits, I don’t immediately earn income from these projects, HOWEVER, after a project is completed I send one final email closing the project where I mention opportunities to refer clients, and review my services. Taking on these pro-bono short term projects means that down the road I will have the opportunity to pitch them long term paid services or ask them to refer me to anyone in their network that may be in need of marketing services.

Scale your business this year by getting creative with your pitching and sales tactics. The tactics I’ve outlined above are just a few ways I’ve learned to scale my business without the stress of cold calling. What is your favorite way to search for clients to scale your business?

Infographic: When Should You Post on Social Media?

Infographic: When Should You Post on Social Media?

By far one of the most common questions clients ask me is “when should I be posting on social media?” While I usually advise clients that they should be posting as often as it feels natural to do so (forced content is not your friend), the time that posts are shared is a bit of a science.

Since social media algorithms favor specific types of content, the time of day that you post can affect your post’s reach, engagement, and click through rate. Today I am sharing some of the best times to post on social media to see the highest reach and engagement. These times vary based on industry and are based on national numbers, so be sure to prioritize testing on your social platforms to pinpoint the time your audience is online.

Need help identifying when your audience is online? Shoot me a message today to schedule your FREE 30 minute consultation.https://maggielasley.com/contact/

Don’t Focus On Your Goals. Focus On This Instead.

Don’t Focus On Your Goals. Focus On This Instead.

“You don’t rise to the level of your goals, you fall to the level of your systems.”

– James Clear, Atomic Habits

Nothing makes me happier than achieving a goal for my clients.

As a marketer achieving client goals is arguably the most important part of my job, but what many people fail to realize is most goals will fail without proper systems in place to help execute the strategy to accomplish those goals. In his book, How to Fail at Almost Everything and still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life, Scott Adams says that “Goals are for losers.

He goes on to explain, “Goal-oriented people exist in a state of continuous pre-success failure at best, and permanent failure at worst if things never work out.  Systems people succeed every time they apply their systems, in the sense that they did what they intended to do.

Seeing the quote above resonated with me as a new business owner, and as a marketer. Systems give us something to focus on immediately, while goals are often established for the future (typically quarterly, or annually). Because goals do not provide immediate information and gratification, it makes sense that when you focus more on your goals than the systems you have in place to help achieve your goals, you are living in a constant state of failure until your goal is met.

In my business I get around this state of failure by establishing micro goals monthly that allow me to provide almost immediate value to clients. These micro goals also allow me to predict whether or not we are on track to hit our quarterly and annual goals. Guess what! The act of establishing micro goals is actually an example of a system. It’s just one of many systems I have in place in my business to propel my clients forward.

Here are some of the ways I ensure the systems in place streamline and grow my business, and my client’s businesses as well.

Automation

At its core, a system should be something automatic that solves a problem in your business. One of the things that I struggled with when launching my own business was prioritizing my digital content. Between managing client work and working a second job, my own digital presence was taking a backseat. Using scheduling software like Later, I have been able to schedule content for my social platforms in batches – rather than having to find time every day to post content. Automated systems help you use your time effectively and improve your productivity and should be implemented by your business as often as possible.

Evaluation

Once your systems are in place you MUST make sure they are actually working for your business. When I started working in the marketing industry, on-boarding clients was chaotic. It took several phone calls, emails, and hours of planning before services even started being executed – and most importantly, it disrupted workflow for existing clients. After finding that process ineffective, I was able to implement new (and automated) systems to streamline the process. I traded in an initial discovery call for a quick, 10 question survey for prospective clients to fill out prior to our first meeting. The survey included a link to a calendar to schedule our first phone call/in-person meeting. This survey allowed me to collect data on their perceived marketing needs prior to our meeting, rendering initial discussions irrelevant, and allowing me to tailer the content I brought to our meeting specifically to their needs.

Revision

If your system isn’t working – fix it, but also be sure you’ve given the system time to work. Don’t change your system just because you forget to follow a week after you implement it or because the first few weeks you find yourself needing a checklist to ensure you are completing all steps as needed. While a system can work immediately, you will likely need some time to adjust to a new way of doing things. I prefer giving myself 60-90 days to evaluate a new system to determine what is working and what isn’t. From there, I try tweaking small parts of my systems in places I think it may be flawed rather than changing my entire system completely. This ensures systems ultimately have longevity so I am not constantly changing systems for my business (creating more hassle than it’s worth).

Setting up your systems will take time in the beginning but in the long run, your systems will save you hundreds of hours of frustration and stress. Do you have any systems in place?

Stuck in a Rut? Up Your WFH Game with These Tips.

Stuck in a Rut? Up Your WFH Game with These Tips.

We’ve been cooped up at home for awhile now, and lots of people are experiencing working from home for the first time. It can be a blessing and a curse. On one hand, it’s nice working in pjs, and there is no better coworker than your four legged family member. But on the other hand, it can be difficult to be a productive as you need to be when all the comforts of home are at your feet.

Personally, I think it’s also a lot easier to burn yourself out when you work from home because you are always around your work when your living space becomes your office. being productive while avoiding burn out can be a difficult balance to strike. That’s why today I am sharing some of my favorite tips to stay productive and maintain a positive work-life balance while we are all stuck working at home.

Get Up Earlier

I get it, we’re not all early birds. That’s fine, working from home offers more flexibility when it comes to waking up and you should absolutely take advantage of that. HOWEVER, you should do your best to wake up around the same time you typically would on a normal work day to keep your routine as close to “normal” as possible.

Stop sleeping in until 10 minutes before your first meeting, and get up early enough to put on real clothes (yoga pants count), eat a nutritious breakfast, and complete any important early morning tasks that you have. You’ll set your day up for success just by giving yourself this extra time in the morning.

Get Your Biggest Tasks Done First

Scheduling meetings (or your most important task for the day) in the morning means that not only will you be forced to get your butt out of bed for work, you’ll also be completing the most important item on your to do list right away. This should give you enough steam to continue working through the day successfully, but even if it doesn’t, it’s okay because your top priorities have already been completed.

Take Breaks

To break up my time and give my eyes a rest from staring at the computer screen, I take lots of little breaks throughout the day. Instead of locking myself away with my laptop and headphones, I will take advantage of every pocket of free time I get by making a healthy lunch, walking the dog, or checking in with the other people in my household. Taking breaks like this keep me from getting burnt out or bored by the monotony that working from home can sometimes cause.

Track Your Productivity

The key to successfully working from home is keeping track of the things you need to do. You likely have a planner or calendar, and to do list at your office when you work. You absolutely should have those things (and use them) when you work from home too.

I prefer having a calendar/agenda in addition to a digital CRM. I’m currently using Freedcamp, a free project management platform. It’s got some flaws, but if you need something to help track your tasks throughout the day for free, it’s a great option.

Turn off Notifications

Weird, right? Nope! I swear by turning off all my cellphone notifications at 8pm every night. A good night’s sleep is essential to conquering any work day, and that’s especially true when you work from home. By unplugging in the evening, I’m able to focus on being present where I’m at instead of thinking about work.

What are your favorite WFH productivity hacks?

Client Retention During an Epidemic

Client Retention During an Epidemic

Look, these are super uncertain times. We all know that. If you’re operating as a freelancer, these are scary times too. While most businesses are closed or scaling back services, client retention is one of the most unpredictable aspects of freelancing right now. Thankfully, I’ve managed to retain 100% of my clientele (and even scale my business) since March. Today I want to share some tips with you so that you can improve or maintain your client retention in the midst of an epidemic.

Keep in mind, flexibility is the key to successfully implementing these tips. It’s time to pivot, folks!

Maintain Communication

This can be a really isolating time for small business owners, show your clients you are there to help and support them (within reason).

I speak with my clients consistently at least once a week during regular operations, and I’ve maintained that through this epidemic. Whether they are simple check ins via text message, volunteering to help with any additional projects, or updating them on their services, maintaining (or increasing) communication with your clients is super important right now.

Take this time to foster your professional relationship and solidify a positive partnership through this epidemic and beyond by making small changes to the way you function in your freelance business – you won’t regret it!

Offer a Discount

One of the tactics I have used to maintain 100% retention rates for my business for the past couple of months is to offer a discount to the clients that signed on for services prior to March. Instead of offering the same discount to every client, I customized each discount offer based on the packages they signed up for.

By offering discounts you acknowledge that the success of their business is important to you. But you’re also demonstrating that you can be flexible with pricing. This is especially important because instead of choosing to cancel your services, your client may instead reach out to discuss possible savings or reduction of services rather than completely cancelling every service your contract details.

Provide Value

This is the time to demonstrate what you’ve done in the past, and what you will do to drive sales now, or once business resumes for your client. If you aren’t already hosting monthly review meetings with your clients, you should start ASAP.

Since scheduling meetings can be tricky, I actually record monthly recaps in my own time at the end of every month by recording my computer screen as I walk through platform analytics for the past month. Then I upload the video to a shared drive that my clients can access at any time.

I should note that videos like the ones I use to discuss analytics do not replace meetings and two way conversations. You should still be speaking with clients on a regular basis, and expect a phone call or zoom conversation to discuss any questions they may have in regards to the analytics they see in your videos.

Get Creative

Spend some time brainstorming ways your business can increase sales during this time, even if their business isn’t open. Is your client a salon that cannot take clients right now? Maybe they can start sharing styling tutorials on their social media page and sell product bundles used in the tutorials? Does your client have access to a large amount of products they are no longer using (t-shirts, stickers, etc)? Why not sell them online!

Don’t be afraid to think outside your normal scope of services either, just have a referral ready and be prepared to help get the ball rolling to implement new creative tactics you develop.

Keep Your Customers During the Coronavirus Outbreak

Keep Your Customers During the Coronavirus Outbreak

As an introvert who works from home, social distancing in light of the Coronavirus epidemic is a piece of cake. But as a small business owner, the negative impact this epidemic can have on your business is likely looming over your head and causing severe anxiety.

While these are definitely scary times, this is also an opportunity for you to utilize the time you are given to make a plan for your business and consider different pivots you may be able to make during this time to help keep your business afloat while clients and customers are staying in.

Your hands may be tied in regards to a lot concerning your business right now, but how you spend your time is totally up to you – so today I am sharing a few different tactics you may consider implementing immediately, or in the coming weeks, to help maintain relationships with clients and generate sales.

Promote Gift Cards

If you don’t already, make gift cards available for purchase online. While your clients may not be able to utilize them immediately, gift cards often have no expiration date, meaning they can be used for future goods/services once business resumes as normal.

Get Digital

This is a great option for those that offer educational services (dog trainers, nutritionists, etc). There are a couple of different options for digital streaming, the first being recording videos of lessons in advance and hosting them online. For a small fee, your members can “unlock” your video content to consume at their leisure. Another option is to take to social media and live stream a training session, host a Q+A, or share information about a subject you consider yourself an expert in. Not only will you keep clients engaged with your business, but you’ll give them something to do while they practice social distancing.

Sell Merchandise

Similarly to gift cards, if you have merchandise on hand, you may consider selling it to customers still utilizing your business or offering it for sale online. Shipping isn’t currently affected by CVOID-19, but be sure to keep that in mind when you consider whether or not you want to sell products online.

Plan an Event

I’ll say it again. The best thing we can do right now is utilize the time we are given. So plan for the future! It’s never too early to begin planning and preparing for the time when you get the green light to operate your business as normal, and with quarantines going into effect and business slowing, you have the time, take advantage of it! Start thinking about ways you can really give your business a boost once the dust starts to settle and things begin to resume as normal.

The key to all these tactics is being candid with your clientele about how participating and taking advantage of your offerings directly affects your business and your team during these difficult times. Make sure your messaging is clear when promoting any new tactics you begin to implement and answer any questions your clients may have in a timely manner and be as direct/open/honest as possible or as you feel comfortable.