It Should Be Easy…But It Isn't: Social Media Management (Pt 2)


AKA Don’t get lost in the digital crowd

Feeling overwhelmed by the online competition? Many small businesses struggle to build a strong digital presence. But fear not! A well-crafted social media strategy can be your secret weapon for growth.

At the risk of being repetitive, let’s do a quick recap on why having a social media presence should be a core part of your business strategy.

Why Social Media Matters

The digital landscape is constantly evolving, along with how your customers interact with brands, but the reasons to have your brand on social platforms remains the same:

Ok, now let’s get down to the business end of things.

The Recipe for Social Media Success

There's no magic formula, but here's our framework to craft a strategy unique to your business:

Ready to Shine Online?

Understanding the nuances of social media can be a game-changer for your small business. It's about building genuine relationships and showcasing the unique essence of your brand.

By following these tips and continuously learning, you can create a powerful social media presence that makes your business shine.

P.S. Still have questions? Leave a comment below with your biggest social media challenge, and let's discuss!

It Should Be Easy…But It Isn't: Social Media Management (Pt 1)

Let’s talk about the elephant in the room—or should I say, the blue bird, the thumbs-up icon, and that little camera that could. Yes, we’re talking about social media this time. You know, that thing we all thought would be a walk in the park, like teaching your grandma to use emojis. But as it turns out, it’s more like teaching her to code in Python.

WTF is Social Media Marketing? It’s not just cat videos and hashtags; it’s a full-blown digital marketing fiesta that puts your brand in the limelight. Think of it as the digital handshake that introduces your business to the world.

Why Bother?

Increase Brand Awareness: You can’t expect people to buy from you, or sign up for your services if they have no idea who you are! Show off your brand’s personality! Yes, your brand has a personality, whether you have intentionally created one or not. Luckily, you can influence it if it is currently not sending the message you want your customers to hear. It’s like wearing a neon sign that says, “Look at me, I’m awesome!”

Add a Human Element: Your business isn’t just a logo; it’s a living, breathing entity. It is how you build relationships with your customers and get them to be aware of and then connect with what you have to offer.

Drive Traffic : Not the honking kind, thankfully. We’re talking about the good traffic that brings visitors to your website and turns them into fans. If sales is a numbers game, then you need as many eyes on you as possible. Social media is one of the fastest and cheapest ways to get eyeballs on your brand (if you take the time to do it right, otherwise it can be a painfully slow and cost you a lot in wasted time).

Generate Leads: Whatever you have to offer, there are compelling ways to entice potential customers to engage with you once they recognise who you are. It usually won’t happen overnight, but a solid social media strategy will bring you new business.

The Pros of Committing to the Social Media Hustle

Encourages Business Viewpoint: It’s like having a focus group without the stale cookies. Get real-time feedback and see if your idea is the next sliced bread or just crumbs.

Increased Brand Awareness: Why pay celebs to pretend they like your product when you can have real people actually liking it for free?

Increased Inbound Traffic: Imagine your website is a party and social media is the cool friend that tells everyone to come over.

Gain Market Insight: It’s like being a fly on the wall in your customers’ homes, but less creepy and more insightful.

So, there you have it, folks. Social media management may seem like herding cats at times, but with the right strategy, it’s more like leading a parade. And who doesn’t love a parade? ????

Check back for next week where we share our recipe for social media success in Part 2.

And remember, we’re here to guide you through the maze of likes, shares, and retweets. Because when it comes to social media, we’re the experts, and we’ve got your back. Ready to jazz up your social media game but not sure you are up for going it alone? Hit us up, and let’s make your brand the talk of the town!

It Should Be Easy But It Isn’t: Automation (Part 3) 

In our third and final (we promise) discussion about automation for small businesses we are going to talk about implementation. 

Once you’ve mapped out what you want to automate and the steps behind each task, you are likely to need the right tools to make it happen. It’s easy to get distracted by the shiny new potential systems, but it is absolutely crucial to decide what you want to achieve with automation first, then find the tools that fit those needs. From there you can plan out how these tools will fit into your operations, set them up, and show your team how to use them. 

You’re finally ready, how will you choose from the endless options for automation tools out there? 

Let’s dive into how each of these automation tools can cater to specific types of small businesses, focusing on their unique strengths and how they might serve different business needs effectively. 

IFTTT (If This Then That) 

Best for: Small businesses looking to automate simple tasks across a wide range of apps without needing technical skills. 

Why: IFTTT is incredibly user-friendly and works by creating "applets" that connect different apps to automate tasks. For example, a small retail shop could use IFTTT to automatically post new Instagram photos as Facebook posts, simplifying their social media management. 

Integromat 

Best for: Businesses needing complex, customizable workflows that involve multiple steps and conditions. 

Why: Integromat excels in creating detailed, multi-step automation with conditional logic. It’s ideal for a service-based business, like a marketing agency, that requires complex task sequences, such as retrieving data from client forms, processing it, and then sending personalized emails based on specific criteria. 

Zapier 

Best for: Small businesses looking for a broad integration platform to connect their apps and automate workflows. 

Why: Zapier supports a vast array of apps and services, making it suitable for virtually any small business. An e-commerce store, for example, could use Zapier to automatically add new customers to a CRM, send a welcome email, and create a task for follow-up, all triggered by a new order. 

Kissflow 

Best for: Small to medium-sized businesses requiring a comprehensive solution for managing workflows, projects, and cases. 

Why: Kissflow is designed for businesses that need to automate and track complex processes, such as approvals and project management, in one place. It’s particularly beneficial for companies like construction firms or consulting agencies, where project oversight and approval workflows are critical. 

Accelo 

Best for: Service-based businesses, such as consulting firms, IT service providers, or digital agencies, looking for an all-in-one automation platform to manage client work. 

Why: Accelo offers automation tools specifically designed for managing client projects, service delivery, timesheets, and billing. It automates the tedious parts of project management and client communication, allowing businesses to focus on delivering high-quality services. 

Keap 

Best for: Small businesses in need of strong sales and marketing automation to nurture leads and manage customer relationships. 

Why: Keap (formerly Infusionsoft) is particularly powerful for businesses that rely on strong relationships and follow-up with leads and customers. For instance, a small fitness studio could use Keap to automate email campaigns that nurture leads, schedule classes, and follow up with clients to keep them engaged. 

Each of these tools offers unique features and integrations, making them suitable for different types of small businesses based on their specific needs, industry, and the complexity of the workflows they wish to automate. Choosing the right one depends on assessing your business processes and identifying where automation can bring the most benefit. 

We will leave you with one final thought on choosing the right tool for you. Some options may give you initial sticker shock. Don’t discount them on price straight away. Take the time to really weigh up which one will best fit your needs – as the time the right system will save you will soon pay for itself. The less ideal system might be cheaper on the surface, but it just might cost you more in the long run. 

It Should Be Easy But It Isn’t: Automation (Part 2) 

You thought we were done didn’t you? Not quite, there is still a fair bit more to know on this one. 

In Part 1, we touched on what could be considered the ‘most obvious’ benefits of automation for small business owners. Now we will take a deeper look at some of the ones you may not have considered yet. 

Let’s start with another scenario… 

Imagine you run a small graphic design studio. Your team spends a chunk of their day on tasks like tracking time spent on projects, sending follow-up emails to clients, and scheduling meetings. These tasks, while important, are not the best use of the creative talent you hired them for. Here's where automation comes into play. 

Enhancing Employee Productivity - Think of workflow automation as your studio's behind-the-scenes manager. It can take care of those repetitive tasks—like sending automated reminders to clients for feedback or approvals, organizing project files on your server, and even tracking how much time each task takes. This is like giving your team a magic wand that instantly completes their least favourite tasks, allowing them to focus more on creating stunning designs. As a result, your team is happier because they're doing more of the work they love, boosting their morale and productivity. They now have more time to dive deep into creative challenges, leading to better work and personal growth. 

Improving Customer Experience - Now, let's talk about your clients. With automation smoothing out your internal workflows, projects move along faster because there's less waiting around for manual updates or processes to happen. For instance, once a design draft is ready, an automated system can notify the client, request feedback, and even remind them if they haven't responded in a few days. This keeps the project timeline on track. 

Better communication means your clients are always in the loop, creating a transparent and trusting relationship. They're impressed by how quickly and efficiently their projects are handled, leading to higher satisfaction. Happy clients are more likely to come back for more projects and even refer your services to others. 

In essence, by automating the mundane aspects of your studio's operation, you're not only making your team's life easier but also enhancing the experience for your clients. They get their designs faster and communicate more smoothly, while your team gets to focus on what they do best: being creative. It's a win-win situation. 

So how do you actually start making all this magic happen? 

Here is the roadmap to follow for taking on automation setups. 

1.Define Key Processes 

First, think about what tasks you do regularly—like sending out project updates to clients or checking for new emails. These are your routine tasks that, if automated, could save you a lot of time. 

TIP: There are strategic decisions to make when considering what to automate. In some cases, just because you can doesn’t mean you should. Consider the trade-off of efficiency vs personal touch with different tasks, and what is most important to your company specifically in each instance. 

Implement automations gradually – don’t try to automate everything all at once. Get comfortable with one or two automations first, make sure they are fit for purpose and even iterate on them where needed. Learn from them before you add your next automations. 

2. Eliminate Unnecessary Steps 

Next, look at these tasks closely. Maybe you find that you're entering the same information into several different places or taking extra steps that don't really add value. By cutting these out, you streamline your work, making everything run smoother and quicker. 

3. Formalise Your Workflow 

Now, make a guide for these streamlined tasks. This is about creating a "this is how we do things" manual, so you don't have to keep the process in your head and can easily share it with your team. 

TIP: It might seem tedious to undergo a multi-step review for every task, but it’s an ironclad way to create workflows that stick. Get each person involved in reworking their team’s workflows to encourage them to evaluate their personal habits and even create their own workflows. 

4. Leverage Automation for Refinement 

Identify which of these streamlined tasks still take up too much of your time and see if there's an app or tool that can do them for you. Also, see if you're using too many different platforms that could be combined into one. 

If you’ve made it this far, here are the key takeaways 

Embracing automation isn't just about keeping up with the latest tech trends; it's about fundamentally enhancing the way your small business operates. By automating routine tasks, you're not only freeing yourself to focus on the strategic parts of your business but also improving your clients' experience with faster, more efficient service. It's about making the magic happen, where the real value of your business shines through you, not the time spent on mundane tasks. 

…PS – here are a few other examples of tasks you can automate across various business types that you may want to consider. 

Agency Workflows: Automatically sending a project brief to a client as soon as they sign your proposal. 

Consulting: Set up a system where your weekly status reports are generated automatically, pulling in data from your project management software. 

Accounting: Use software that automatically sends out invoices at the end of each month and follows up on unpaid ones. 

IT and Engineering: Have a system where project milestones automatically update clients on progress. 

Customer Service: Use chatbots on your website to answer common questions instantly, 24/7, improving client satisfaction. 

Lead Nurturing: Set up emails that automatically go out to potential clients who've shown interest, keeping them engaged with your studio's work. 

Sales and E-commerce: Use software that reminds clients when they've left an item in their cart in your online store, increasing chances of completing the sale. 

Event Registration and Promotion: For a workshop you're hosting, use a tool that handles sign-ups, sends out confirmation emails, and reminds registrants as the date approaches. 

Office Management: Automate routine office tasks like scheduling meetings, managing document approvals, and even collecting job applications

Financial Activities: Use software to track your expenses and income automatically, making tax time less of a headache. 

Hiring: Have a system where potential hires can submit their applications online, which are then automatically organized and flagged for your review. 

Social Media Management: Schedule your social media posts in advance using a tool that posts them for you. 

It Should Be Easy But It Isn’t: Automation (Part 1) 

The very concept of ‘automation’ evokes thoughts of simplicity, being easy and straightforward, and efficiency, right? 

Then you immediately figure out how you could be using automation to make your life as a small business owner easier, and suddenly the world all falls into place, and you sail off into the sunset on your piles of cash. Right? Right?! 

The reality is that the process of automation, or even knowing what you should be automating, sounds like It Should Be Easy…. But It Isn’t. 

It’s pretty likely that you’ve considered the idea of automation but haven’t ended up doing much more than just that after having skimmed a couple of articles and decided you don’t have the energy to figure all of that out right now. You might have thought that you don’t even know where to begin. Meanwhile, you keep hearing it crop up in conversations, so it’s probably important to figure out what it means for you eventually. 

We Don’t Know What We Don’t Know 

Many small business owners feel that automation is just for big corporations, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Research from McKinsey showed that while small businesses are less likely to invest in automation than large ones, they have more success when they do. 

There is certainly no cookie cutter approach to business success. Every startup is unique with different sets of conditions, markets, and talents. However, there are core principles that are essential for success, such as tenacity, knowing your market, focusing on the customer and firefighting skills. None of which can happen effectively if you are busy wading through a lot of manual handling. 

Information Overload 

Among other challenges, launching a startup has been described as drinking from a firehose. Everyone today is inundated with more information they know what to do with. There are more tools, technologies, and social media platforms on the market than ever before. The head-spinning experience can leave one in a daze. 

Well, you’re here now. So let’s talk about it. 

 
Imagine you're running a small gardening service, where you and your team visit homes to take care of gardens. Between scheduling appointments, invoicing clients, and following up for feedback, you find yourself buried in paperwork instead of doing what you love—gardening. Automation is like having a digital helper that manages the background tasks so you can focus more on your clients' gardens. 

Competitive Edge - With automation, your small gardening service can compete with the big landscape companies. About 88% of small businesses found that automation lets them stand shoulder to shoulder with the giants in the industry. It's like having a secret formula that helps your business punch above its weight, allowing you to offer the personal touch of a small business with the efficiency of a large one. 

Efficiency and Scale - Automation helps your business run more smoothly. For example, instead of manually scheduling each client visit, an automated system can handle bookings online, send reminders to clients, and adjust the schedule based on weather delays. This efficiency means you can serve more clients or expand your services without getting bogged down by admin work. 

Simplification of Tasks - Consider the daily tasks that eat up your time, like sending out invoices, creating work schedules, or emailing clients about upcoming service dates. Automation acts like a diligent office manager, taking care of these tasks for you according to rules you've set. It's as if you've trained a robot to handle the admin side of your business, freeing you up to focus on the gardening itself. 

Data Analysis and Decision Making - Finally, automation tools can analyse the data from all aspects of your business. This could include which services are most in demand during different seasons, client feedback on specific services, or how effective your marketing efforts are. Instead of making decisions based on gut feelings, you have access to insights based on real data. This helps you adapt your services to meet market demands, identify opportunities for expanding your business, and enhance your profitability. 

In essence, automation in a service-based small business like gardening means less time spent on routine tasks and more time available for nurturing gardens and relationships with clients. It equips you with the tools to grow your business efficiently, make informed decisions based on data, and maintain that personal touch that sets your service apart. 

Stay tuned for Part 2...

It Should Be Easy… But It Isn’t: Prioritising

Is there a worse word in life? Prioritise.

If it doesn’t come naturally to you, the need to prioritise (and even the mere thought of it) is the stuff of nightmares. So much so, that many of us just add it to that list of things we were going to prioritise in the first place and leave it there to haunt us.

Meanwhile, we carry on not fully realising just how much of our day we lose to indecision or inefficiency from hopping back and forth between tasks. Parkinson’s law says “work expands to fill the time allocated to it’. If it there are key tasks that are truly important for you to get done, then you have to prioritise them – that will also mean giving yourself a timeframe to have it done by as well.

Trust us, we get it! Even the most organised people can find their ‘To Do’ list getting the better of them sometimes. And once it starts getting away from you, it can be a challenge to get things back on track. In fact, some days are just a write off. That is okay. No one can be on top of everything all the time, despite our loved ones perhaps occasionally suggesting that we have inhuman superpowers for ‘getting sh*t done’.

In all seriousness though, there is a reason there are prioritising tactics out there such as Eating The Frog (which encourages tackling the most challenging or important task first thing) and The 2-Minute Rule (which suggests that if a task takes less than two minutes to complete, it should be done immediately)and The ABCDE Method (assign a letter grade (A to E) to tasks based on their significance, with A being the highest priority).

Diving into these strategies really puts a spotlight on the whole circus of figuring out what's desperately screaming for your attention versus what genuinely deserves your time and energy. And let's be real, sorting that mess is crucial.

But here's the kicker: all the prep work in the world isn't the end game. Sure, plotting, planning, jotting down to-dos, and pumping yourself up with all those "go get 'em" talks feels like you're getting somewhere. But let's not kid ourselves, that's just the warm-up act. The real magic happens when you roll up your sleeves and move from the drawing board to getting your hands dirty, especially when you run a small business and every decision and action can significantly impact your success. Grasping this difference is key.

It takes some practice to get good at sorting those honest to goodness priorities from the tasks merely masquerading as priorities. As Stephen Covey put it, “ The key is not to prioritise what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” And if you go to list those To Do's out, and find yourself genuinely needing to write A, A, A, A, A next to each one - get yourself some help doing them – sometimes you just cannot do it all yourself!”

We will leave you with a piece of writing that really hits home. (Not because we think you’re avoiding doing the thing, just because sometimes we need that little reminder too.)

“Preparing to do the thing isn't doing the thing.

Scheduling time to do the thing isn't doing the thing.

Making a to-do list for the thing isn't doing the thing.

Telling people you're going to do the thing isn't doing the thing.

Writing a banger tweet about how you're going to do the thing isn't doing the thing.

Hating on yourself for not doing the thing isn't doing the thing. Hating on other people who have done the thing isn't doing the thing. Hating on the obstacles in the way of doing the thing isn't doing the thing.

Reading about how to do the thing isn't doing the thing. Reading about how other people did the thing isn't doing the thing. Reading this essay isn't doing the thing.

The only thing that is doing the thing is doing the thing.”

Credit: The Strangest Loop, Strangest Loop