Let’s talk social media.
This week Frankie Tortora and Steve Folland have a chat in response to a question from copywriter Catherine Jones. She says:
“Let’s talk social media.
Do you use every platform or focus on one? Do you schedule? How do you allocate time for answering comments and interacting with other people? How do you ensure you don’t get sucked down the rabbit hole and lose hours to it? Is it worth outsourcing? If so, how do you know you’re ready / can afford to?
Sorry, I know it’s only supposed to be one question!”
• • • • •
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Take note dear listener! We might swear a bit. This one’s for the parents. To be enjoyed at your desk or once the kiddos are in bed.
Here’s what was said in this episode:
Comments on the previous episode:
[00:01:20] – Frankie
Hello. You’re listening to the Doing It For The Kids podcast, where we swear a bit too much and talk a bit too fast about freelance life with kids in the mix. I’m Frankie and this is Steve.
[00:01:30] – Steve
Hello! Yes. Each week we take a question from the Doing It For The Kids community. Do our best to answer it, but of course we also like to hear your comments, your opinions, and we start each episode by looking back at last week’s episode, reading those comments out.
Last week’s episode was…?
[00:01:44] – Frankie
We talked about… is now the time to go back into an employed, proper job — in Inverted commas — given the flexibility that they’re now offering and all that kind of stuff?
[00:01:51] – Steve
Penny Smyth said,
“I fall into the category of people who were squeezed out of their in-house job for banging too hard on the flexible working drum. Another inconvenient mother asking to work from home (hollow laugh). I was scared about going freelance, to be perfectly honest, because I’d done it before, hated it, earned bugger all and jumped at the first in-house copywriting job I could find. But hey, what do you know?
A few years older and wiser, I’d got a load more experience. I was less eager to please, less giving of sh*ts. And now, with two little humans to feed, it has been a completely different experience. I feel loads more in control and I’ve realised that running a business is just as creative as doing the work. It has clicked.
Just goes to show there are so many shifting life factors that make a work setup work — pandemics included. Sometimes you don’t know until you try.”
[00:02:48] – Frankie
Cracking comments this week, just saying.
Jules Gilbert says,
“After ten years of being self-employed, I made the leap into being a full-time employee. There were various reasons behind it, but it got to the point where being an employee outweighed the benefits of being self-employed.
What got me the job was my unique set of skills, extensive knowledge and the experience I’d gained in my decade being self-employed. The current situation has been beneficial for me, as, unlike many of my colleagues, I’m already accustomed to working from home and I’m pleased to be back in my home office and to see my daughter more. I’m fortunate to have the best of both worlds at the moment. For me, it’s been a career sidestep and well worth it.”
[00:03:22] – Steve
And Meg Bell said,
“I took the leap earlier this year and after three years of self-employment, went back to an employed role. It’s a home based, pretty flexible role and offered me the security of a regular wage holiday and sick pay. When lockdown happened, I managed to reduce my hours so I can still look after the kids and get some money coming in — the dream!
I know if I was still self-employed, I wouldn’t be earning anything right now, but I also know I wouldn’t have the constant juggle of working kids at home. So not sure which is better. Still don’t know if it was the right thing to do, but if it doesn’t work out, my own business is still there, ready to be restarted.”
[00:04:07] – Frankie
There you go. Keeping that fire stoked.
[00:04:10.490] – Steve
Yeah. Interesting. Thank you so much for all of your comments.
Our answer to this week's question:
[00:08:17] – Steve
This week’s question comes from Catherine Jones. Catherine is a copywriter at cleanslatecopywriting.co.uk, and she also runs a parenting lifestyle blog, lazymum.co.uk.
“Let’s talk social media!
Do you use every platform or focus on one? Do you schedule? How do you allocate time for answering comments and interacting with other people? How do you ensure you don’t get sucked down the rabbit hole and lose hours to it? Is it worth outsourcing? If so, how do you know you already can afford to?”
Sorry, it’s probably only meant to be one question… I’ve paraphrased the end there.
That’s Catherine’s question.
[00:09:01] – Frankie
In current times, now more than ever, it’s about slim lining your time and energy, right? All social channels suck your time ultimately, so you need to work out which ones are showing a ‘return’, whether that’s building your profile or actually making sales or getting more clients or whatever.
So, yeah, I feel like — at the moment — now is a really good time to hone in on what is working and what isn’t. Because, more than likely, you’re working around your kids and you’ve got ten minutes here and ten minutes there and you can’t do all the channels. I mean, that’s hard anyway. I wouldn’t recommend doing that in normal times, let alone now.
[00:09:42] – Steve
Yeah, it’s always said, isn’t it — but if you pick one and do it really well, that you’ll have a much better effect than if you try and do them all.
He says while on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn…
But I totally get the fact that when I spend time mainly focused on one, I see much more of a return.
[00:10:04] – Frankie
Yes, definitely. Maybe, I don’t know… I mean, MASSIVE CAVEAT (we should say this as standard for this podcast!) I’m not a social media person, I do not run workshops on this, but yeah — maybe now is a good time to do a bit of an audit, look at what is and isn’t working for you. And I mean in a practical returns kind of way, but also in a gut feeling kind of way.
Like, which of the platforms do you naturally want to feed and suit the way you interact with people? If it comes easier to you, then, yeah, you’re more likely to update it. And as you say, the more you put into one of them, the more likely you are to get more out.
But having said all of that, you also want to combine that with, like… as with last week… why are you using social? Like, what are the aims of that as a means of marketing? Is it about getting more clients? Is it about establishing yourself as an expert? Is it about creating shareable content?
Start with your ‘why’, what’s it all about, what are the aims for your business? And then working out who uses which of those channels that fit with what your aims are.
[00:11:15] – Steve
But then there’s the other use of social media, which might be your use of community, right? That’s the thing, isn’t it, that is equally important.
So it might be that your clients are on LinkedIn, but you hate it. Your community are on Instagram.
So that answers the first question. Right? Do you use every platform or focus on one?
[00:11:32] – Frankie
Yeah. Essentially don’t spread yourself too thinly. Don’t do all the things and do them rubbish.
That’s not great English!
[00:11:40] – Steve
I know if I only did Instagram, I would do so much better on Instagram. Yeah, it makes sense that if you want to be an Olympic sprinter, that you just concentrate on sprinting and don’t do swimming.
If we put our efforts into one thing, we’re going to see much more of a return out of it. You’ve just got to make sure that the one you pick is where your audience is.
[00:12:02] – Frankie
Right? You don’t want to put your energy into something that then doesn’t actually help you in the long run. And as you’ve touched on — and like we’ve talked about before (because I still am guilty of this!) — having platforms that just look so neglected is not a good look. There is something deeply, deeply sad — particularly about a Facebook page — that just isn’t loved. Hasn’t been posted on since 2016.
This is me, by the way. This is what I have!
[00:12:29] – Steve
When I’m researching guests for Being Freelance, I have said this before, I’ve been on freelancers’ pages and clicked through to their Twitter and then seen that they haven’t tweeted for two years. And then I start to question it — are they still freelancing? Are they in business? And you don’t want that to be the end result for people looking at you online.
So if you’ve decided not to tweet, just delete your Twitter account or just take it off of your website.
[00:12:54] – Frankie
That’s what I did. So I’ve still got a Twitter for me as, like, a person, as a designer, but I use it to basically, like, complain to brands that I’ve bought things from. “Where’s my order?” It’s not great.
Anyway, what I did do is take it off my website, so it no longer links from my graphic design website, whereas all my other socials are there, but that one isn’t.
[00:13:17] – Steve
So Catherine also said — do you schedule?
Do you schedule?
[00:13:21] – Frankie
Again, like, I don’t know what you think about this, but in current times, it’s a hell no for me. In normal times, yes, that can be a really useful tool. But right now, I don’t know. There’s too much going on.
[00:13:33] – Steve
Okay, let’s look at the benefits of scheduling. The benefits of scheduling could be… I have created some content that I want to promote. I’ve already created it. I know I want to promote it four times this week. I can put up my little image, put my little bit of copy and let it post itself because the rest of the time I’m just here trying to keep my family afloat during a pandemic!!
Therefore, in the current time, scheduling can make sense, right?
[00:13:57] – Frankie
Oh, from making life easier perspective — absolutely!
[00:14:01] – Steve
So long as you remember to go back in and check that scheduler when the world goes even more to shit than it already is.
[00:14:09] – Frankie
But also the counter argument — whether we’re talking about 2020 or not — is that social is about being social, right? It’s about having a conversation. And if you’re just posting stuff out and it’s all one-sided and there’s no conversation around that and you’re not available at that time to interact with that piece of content you put out, then you’re kind of missing the point, I think.
Like, when I post on Instagram, I always make sure that I’m available for the next hour and a half to be there to talk to people about it, basically.
[00:14:38] – Steve
Which actually then leads into that whole thing, doesn’t it? About how do you not get sucked in? Because it can become that, “oh, I posted this morning, I’m going to keep checking all day long to see the comments and the buzz of the likes or to genuinely respond to comments” and things like that. So that’s the thing. If you don’t post, you can’t get sucked in like that!
[00:15:01] – Frankie
Just do nothing.
[00:15:03] – Steve
Maybe the answer to that, though, is just to be more disciplined about it. So don’t put the social media apps on the front page of your phone so that when you pick it up to do something else, you end up accidentally jumping into Instagram or Twitter or whatever. Make yourself have to flick through the screens in order to find them.
[00:15:22] – Frankie
Make it harder. Yeah.
[00:15:23] – Steve
Set some time aside and maybe even set a timer? “I’m going to spend five minutes on here for now”. And be disciplined on it. Move on to whatever else it is, even if that other thing is just staring out the window of a cup of tea and a biscuit.
[00:15:36] – Frankie
We’ve talked about this before, but like, turning notifications off makes such a difference.
Although it doesn’t…! It doesn’t because I often find that I check more when my notifications are off because I’m like, “oh, have I got your notifications?” But I reckon for some personalities, just turning it off would definitely work. And similarly, like, putting your phone away at night, that’s just a rule for life, really.
But also, I appreciate that if your job is, I mean… copywriting, maybe not so much. Maybe to a certain extent. But if you’re literally a social media manager, it must just be exhausting. Where are the boundaries? Like, where do you stop?
[00:16:12] – Steve
Well, maybe they’ll have good comments for us.
[00:16:15] – Frankie
Good point. Yeah.
[00:16:18] – Steve
How do you allocate time for answering comments and interacting with other people? Well, I guess that’s kind of what we’re saying, isn’t it? Maybe being disciplined like you would be with your email or whatever so that you set it to certain times of the day.
So it might be when you sit down with your coffee that it’s the first thing that you do. Then you leave it, you park it and you come back.
One way to make sure that you stick to this in a way that I quite like is… add some kind of social media to do list and then tick off what you have done. Have I posted? Tick. Have I come back for my afternoon session of checking comments or whatever? Tick.
Or, and we’ve said this before, the importance of social media — even if you’re not posting — just to go in and see what other people are doing and definitely being part of that conversation is even more important than posting yourself.
[00:17:16] – Frankie
What was the next one?
[00:17:18] – Steve
Is it worth outsourcing?
[00:17:20] – Frankie
Surely it depends on what you do, right? Maybe it doesn’t. Maybe you could outsource it, whatever you do…
[00:17:26] – Steve
Well, I think either way, there are bits of it that you can outsource. So, I create a podcast. I want to promote that podcast. I could hire someone to lift quotes out of the podcast, create nice little images, schedule those to go out, but then it’s me that goes back in and takes part in the conversation.
[00:17:45] – Frankie
Sounds like a good idea, Steve. You should do that!
[00:17:48] – Steve
I have thought about this so many times over the years, I really have, because that is the thing which either ‘wastes’ my time because I know I could be doing something else, or I simply don’t get round to doing it because of everything else.
[00:18:04] – Frankie
And then that episode suffers as a result.
[00:18:07] – Steve
Right, I’ve gone to all the effort to create that piece of content. Why am I not promoting it more?
How do you know you are ready and can afford to? That’s totally up to you, isn’t it? I think you know you’re ready if you can see, like I’ve just said, that you could be doing something, but you’re not doing it. If you can see the process in your mind, then you probably know it’s a task that you could give to somebody else. Whether you can afford to, that’s up to you.
[00:18:33] – Frankie
But that might link back to the whole audit thing at the beginning. Which platforms are getting you clients or making you sales? If you were to invest in those platforms, it should pay off. See what I mean? Yeah. If you can work out where it’s worth investing that’s a strong start.
[00:18:46] – Steve
What about bringing someone on board to research hashtags and really audit your social media to begin with?
[00:18:56] – Frankie
Yeah, that’s a good idea.
[00:18:57] – Steve
It would pay huge dividends. To come up with some sort of plan and strategy for you. Could be amazing.
[00:19:02] – Frankie
Yeah, I should do that.
Yeah. Having somebody doing a content plan or a strategy, and then you deliver it. You could also pay them to deliver it. I imagine as a copywriter though, because, you know… a lot of the debate about outsourcing is like, “am I ready to give up control?” essentially. And I imagine that’s even more tricky when you’re a copywriter and like, words is your thing!
[00:19:24] – Steve
Yeah, that’s true.
[00:19:25] – Frankie
Getting somebody else to write your social content is quite a big leap of faith, isn’t it?
[00:19:31] – Steve
Worth a go, though.
[00:19:32] – Frankie
True. You don’t have to commit on an ongoing basis. Yeah.
[00:19:34] – Steve
Some people will say, “well, your time is worth something and if you’re getting somebody else to do that, how much money are you earning by doing the thing that you’re really good at?” But it’s not quite as simple as that because there is, frankly, the question of — have you got the money to do it?
[00:19:47] – Frankie
Right. I think a classic outsourcing moment (not that I’ve done it, but when I’ve thought about it the most!) is when I’m so busy on client work — the paid stuff — that I have no energy or time to do any social media whatsoever.
And then when all the client work stops, it’s like, “oh, I’ve got to ramp up my marketing again”. Whereas if I’d had somebody keeping the social going while I was doing that client work, by the time the project I’m working on comes to an end, I might have more people interested in working with me.
[00:20:17] – Steve
[00:20:18] – Frankie
Because the other thing I was going to say was, like… don’t feel the pressure of having to ‘feed the beast’ all the time. Like, you can take breaks from social and it won’t kill your business.
[00:20:30] – Steve
Okay. I feel like there should be a lot of comments because you and I are not social media experts.
[00:20:39] – Frankie
There’ll be some good comments!