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Social media is a great way to promote your business and reach  new customers. But it can also be time consuming. Fortunately, there are ways you can reduce the amount of time you spend on social without having to reduce the quality of your output. In this latest Swift 6 video, I look at tools and techniques that will help you automate your social media work, allowing you to concentrate on running your business. Any questions, just tweet @123reg and we’ll get back to you. Let’s get going.

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Hello and welcome to another 123-reg Swift Six. This week I’m going to be talking about six steps to social media automation.

Social media is an activity, a marketing avenue that can suck a lot of time, especially if you’re doing it manually. There are things that you can do, there are tools out there that means that you can save a lot of time by automating what you do. You can’t automate everything. No one wants to feel like you’re broadcasting as a computer, as some kind of bot. But there are things that you can do to save you time, and I’m going to be taking you through them today.

The first thing is to actually decide what content you’re going to post on social media. Here I always recommend a kind of bread-and-butter content versus stand-out content strategy. I’ve read something by Joel Gascoigne who started Buffer and he recommend this strategy called the 4:1 strategy. What it means basically is that you do four of one thing and then one of another. That would be four of your normal posts and then one amazing post. It might be that you share four things from your blog and then something from someone else’s blog. It might be that you share four posts without images and then one post with an image.

The point of having this 4:1 strategy is that people get used to the kind of pace and type of content that you’re sharing, they’ll get used to the sort of things that you’re going to do, and then will remark when you do something a little bit different. So that’s an important point. It also gives you a chance to test your stand-out bits of creative without interrupting your normal flow. Social media is all about testing and learning what type of content works.

So, step 1: decide what content you’re going to post and put it in this 4:1 strategy.

The next thing to decide is what the frequency is going to be, how often you’re going to post. There’s no hard-and-fast rules. Here’s a visual that will help you decide when to post and how frequently. Generally speaking, on Twitter you can post quite frequently, several times per day. On Facebook, a little bit less, and then usually, for LinkedIn it’s perhaps once a day is enough to put it out there.

It’s important to be able to post at a time of day that your audience is actually online, especially on Twitter. The time at which your tweet has a chance to be seen by people is often only a few minutes. So it’s important that you’re posting at the time that your audience is online. So take a look at the visual and that should help you decide.

The third thing is to put all of these things into a social calendar. This is a calendar of all of the stuff that you’re going to post during that week. There are two really good tools to help you to do this: one of them is Google Docs so you can set out a Monday to Friday on there; or I actually use Trello. Trello is a great productivity tool where you can set different lists or days in lists and you can put all of the posts that you’re going to do during that week. You can add what text you’re going to write, images you’re going to add and what you’re going to link to as a content to that post.

So map all of that out so you’ve got a good view of what you’re going to do during that week.

The fourth thing – this is where it gets really interesting – is use a scheduling tool. So take all of those posts and put them in a tool that will then automatically post them at the times that you’ve preselected within your frequency and timing that you’ve set a couple of points ago.

There’s lots of different tools that you can use out there. With TweetDeck you can have the option to post at particular times in the future. The one I use is Buffer. I really like it. You basically set all of your frequency, what day and time you want to make all your posts, and then you just click add to my queue and it sets them all up there for the week so you don’t need to go in and bother with that anymore.

The fifth step is to start analysing what is working with your social media. Once you’ve been going a few days, understand what’s working and then start to refine your message going forward. So look at which of your posts got engagement, where they at a particular time of day, was it about the type of message you shared, was it the style, did you use images or hashtags, were you sharing stuff from your own blog, what was the topic of that, or were you sharing stuff from another post?

Look at what worked, understand which ones got more engagement than a kind of standard benchmark, and then do more of those in the future.

The sixth thing for you to do to automate your social media is to try a follow-up management tool. Not everyone is a fan of these but they can certainly help some people grow their followers and engage with their own followers. A typical tool might be one called Community (just search for it online) and it does things like it thanks people when they’re followed or it adds them to a list, or it can follow back if they’re relevant to what you do. That can save you time when looking at your followers or interacting with recent followers. So try Community and see if it works for you.

That was the 123-reg Swift Six and this week it was six steps to social media automation.

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