Creative Business Goals: Plan your social media strategy

Me and Orla - scrapbook

Find out why planning your digital strategy for the year ahead can help grow your following and increase your sales this year…

Getting organised for the year ahead means you can always be one step ahead when it comes to creating sales and growing your online following. With social media key (and most importantly free!) it’s the perfect way to connect with fans and potential customers. But hitting all the key dates and posting the right pictures can often get forgotten when you’re more about the making.

We caught up with Nikki McWilliams and Sara Tasker of Me & Orla to get their top tips on creating a strategy you can stick to and which won’t feel like a chore…

Me and Orla - scrapbook

Write it down

Spreadsheets, planners, apps, or simply a good old diary will all work when it comes to drawing up a plan. Nikki McWilliams admits she prefers to keep it simple when it comes to drawing up her plans. She says, “I’ve tried lots of digital organisers- but there’s nothing quite like writing things down on paper! I use custom pages in my bullet journal to plan my posts and keep track of my social media goals.”

Sara Tasker agrees, but also has a few apps up her sleeve to help her along the way. “I’m a paper-and-pen kind of girl when it comes to organisation and planning, so my first step is always mapping out upcoming content in my planner,” says Sara. “For the actual layout of my Instagram gallery I use an app called Mosaico, which allows me to drag and drop, consider colour and flow as well as draft captions and hashtags in advance.”

Have content ready to go

Having posts ready to go means you don’t have to let social media take over your life every day. One planning session at the beginning of the week can save you time each day. “My advertorial content – any sponsored posts or product features – is loosely planned out about a month in advance, so I can space them out,” explains Sara.

“The rest of my posts are more fluid, but I usually have at least a week’s worth of content ready to go. If I’m producing lots of fresh content and images that week, that buffer might stay untouched; but if I’m sick or busy or uninspired, it’s ready to fill in the gaps and keep things consistent.”

“I’m a big believer in quick and easy workflow. If I already have the photo, I rarely spend more than 60 seconds drafting the caption, layout and tags. I can easily plan a week or two’s worth of Instagram posts and corresponding social shares in 15 minutes or so.”

Nikki McWilliams - Cat and cushionsNikki McWilliams cushion tower

… but don’t be afraid to go with the flow

While you need to have key dates in your diary such as big shopping events like Mother’s Day, Easter and Halloween, make sure you check out other more niche events like International Cat Day. However, you don’t need to post a million times a day. “The most important thing is to be consistent – decide how often you’ll post and then stick to it. While posting three times a day might make you grow a bit faster, it’ll only work if you have enough amazing content to maintain a high standard daily – and most of us don’t!” says Sara,

“I find a good rhythm for most of us is once daily, at a regular time that works for you and your audience. Show up, consistently, so you become a part of people’s daily routine. This rule applies for virtually anything you’re trying to grow online.”

Don’t post and run – get involved

Not only is social media key to getting you more sales, but becoming part of the online crafting community can be beneficial for you as a maker too. Sara reveals, “Instagram is not a place where you can just post-and-run – spend at least ten minutes engaging with other people after they post, as the system is wired to reward this sort of interaction. In return, you’ll gain an audience of loyal, supportive and encouraging creatives.”

Make a video

Don’t just stick to photos, video is the way forward in 2017 with makers engaging by getting behind the video camera and sharing their stories. From Snapchat to Instagram stories can not only be fun to make, but help you connect with your audience too. “When I started using Instagram stories I noticed straight away that I had a much higher reach than on Snapchat – even though I love their filters and functionality,” explains Nikki.

“I’ve just starting vlogging over at my new Youtube channel too, which I’m finding to be a really neat tool for sharing more behind-the-scenes content. It’s a great way to let your audience get to know you, see how you work and the making processes you use.”

As videos generally take a little longer to be prepared for you don’t have to feel you need to post as often as you would with pictures, but a video a week can really enhance what you do. “I love moving image that tells a little story. I tend to film a lot and choose the most interesting – both visually, and content-wise – clips for the final vlog edit,” says Nikki, who also has some helpful technical tips. “When you’re posting out of WIFI/4G signal- be wary that posts can upload jumbled. If you’re trying to tell a story in a specific order, film your clips in the native camera and then upload them once you’re back in range. Instagram stories allow you to use clips and photos from the last 24 hours- just swipe down to access your library.”

Me and Orla

Sara Tasker’s top 5 social media planning tips

  1. Get a grid planning app and really think about how your images look side by side.
  2. Plan captions ahead of time if you struggle to think of things. Often a question is a great way to start conversation. Often a thoughtful phrase or interesting question is the difference between a few ‘nice pic’ comments and a hundred more fascinating, engaging responses. That makes a huge difference both on a personal level, and in terms of exposure via the Instagram algorithm.
  3. Think of three key words for your style and gather images and content that reflect this.
  4. Set an alarm and have a regular time to post each day. Engage with others after you post, so your activity becomes reliable and predictable.
  5. Create hashtag ‘clouds’ around different themes and topics you frequently post, e.g. parenting, food, nature, etc. Paste these into your posts to save time and increase your exposure. Regularly update your lists of tags to keep them fresh.

To find out more about Sara, and sign up for her free monthly newsletter to improve your Instagram feed visit www.meandorla.co.uk or follow her on Instagram.

To connect with Nikki visit her www.nikkimcwilliams.com or check out her new YouTube channel and follow her on Instagram