In this post, I want to share four ideas from the book—these ideas are about using the Carousel feature creatively.
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Today's tip is called "batching" (as in, the verb "to batch").
Identify repeating content types
In order to "batch" content, you will first need to identify buckets, or types, of content that you might repeat (or have repeated in the past). For example, you often share recipes that involve new kitchen products you're selling. Or you have identified that to get people to your website, you want to share links to your blog posts. Yes, you have content that breaks the mold as well and gives surprises here and there, but today, we're focused on the "buckets" or types of content that recur to help you meet specific goals.
What is batching?
"Batching" is the act of creating one "batch" of content at a time, meaning one group of content that is of the same type. In manufacturing, batch production allows a company to make many products on one machine, rather than buying several machines that run continuously. With cookies, for example, you can make all your chocolate chip cookies first, then move on to macadamia cookies, then oatmeal. The idea is to do a whole set at once.
How to batch effectively
In your social media content marketing efforts, consider your "buckets". Perhaps you've identified recipes, tips for kitchen tool maintenance, and spotlights of new products. Instead of creating Monday's recipe post, then the next day's product spotlight, then Wednesday's maintenance tip, then starting over with a recipe again, try batching. This means creating all of your recipe posts at once ahead of time as a batch so that then you have a few months of your Monday posts already done. Then move on to the next type of post and create multiple of that type of post in one sitting.
Batching is a more efficient use of time because it creates less of a cognitive load. When you switch from one task to another, your mind has to acclimate to the new task, or "get in the groove." You will likely be slower the first time you do a task than the fifth time you do it in one sitting, even if it's a task you perform often. Once you "get in the groove," you are more efficient at the later iterations of the task. So it is with content creation. Reduce the number of times you have to switch from one task to another by doing many of one type of content in a series.
You can't do this with in-the-moment, live, or other unique posts, but at least with your repeating content you will become more efficient. For example, with an Instagram series, I created all of my "universe" images in one day (the stars and galaxies you've seen throughout the series). For me, this reduced the cognitive time and energy it would have otherwise taken to switch from one task to another. I became more efficient and reserved more time to spend on the serendipitous engagement with my community.
You've been seeing too much of the usual: stock images, the typical photo perspective that makes it to the postcard, a company's product gracefully posed on a table, and so on. It's time to take a different perspective.
It's time for our Content Calendar exercise. You're going to need an actual calendar (physical or digital) or a 7x4 grid on a blank piece of paper. 🗓🗝
Alright. Lots of "social media gurus" talk about content calendaring and yes it is critical that you do this. Critical to your success, but also to your peace of mind.
Remember that list of types of content you made yesterday? Today, we're going to use that list. 📋
Consistency is something that brings calm to your community. You can build in some consistency. So, take one content type that's going to help you reach your monthly goal (sales goal, signups goal, whatever your goal is—remember, it should be quantifiable). Now assign it to a day or multiple days on your calendar. For example, you decide every Tuesday and Thursday you'll publish posts about new inventory. 📅
Go through this process again with another content type. Perhaps every other Monday you'll link to a blog post that will be published on your website. ⏰
3. Is it realistic?
Ask yourself if your calendar is realistic. Can you publish a social media post on each of those days? If you decided you want to publish a live video every Monday, do you have the time to do live video every Monday? If you have images you want to publish every day, but don't have the time every day to do so, consider using third-party software that will let you schedule ahead. 💻
It feels so good to plan ahead. For example, I planned a month-long marketing strategy series for Instagram ahead of time, so publishing each post is a dream. I already know what is being published each day. It's great! I also did this with a friend last week who knows what content she needs each day, lessening the stress in her life.
I shared two simple steps on Instagram for how to plan ahead.
1. What will you create?
Take your list of content and think of what you need to do to create that content.
Do you need images? Are you going to create those images or find stock images? (Please do not just take images off the Internet—that is usually a really bad idea unless they are public domain, licensed for your use, you paid for them, or you got permission.)
Also, do you need to write captions, and how detailed do those captions need to be?
2. When will you create?
Plan on your calendar when you are going to have the time to create this content. It's that simple. If you don't figure out when you physically can make this happen, then you need to pay someone to make it happen.
Planning ahead in simple ways like this takes a lot of the stress out of your work. Imagine if you are starting each day thinking about what to do, then writing and creating it, then getting it out there.
In your business, do you start each day trying to decide what to sell, then go out and buy it, then get back in time to put it on the shelves, price it, and sell it? Uh, no. That is ridiculous. You start the month, or the week (depending on the business) with a plan for what you want to sell, what has been selling well, how much to buy, when to put it on the shelves, etc. Why would you do any differently with social media content? Yes, there are times when something surprising comes up and you want to post about it, like an award or a trend, but living day to day not knowing what's going on with your social media... that's a lot of stress.
What methods do you use for planning ahead and reducing the stress in your life related to marketing activities?
In this exercise, we'll take a business goal and translate it into a consumer action.
One of you, my dear readers, just emailed me asking if the initial setup of your blog was looking good. I sent you a reply via email, and I thought that reply could be useful to others, so I've included the information here in a post as well.
Choosing a blog URL: Subdomain vs. subfolder
When setting up a blog, some businesses find it easier to set up a subdomain, meaning their blog will live at a location that looks like this: blog.example.com. There are some benefits to doing this, but it is more beneficial to set up a subfolder (or subdirectory), which looks something like this: example.com/blog. The benefits of using a subfolder are usually an advantage for your SEO.
Subfolders have more SEO value
Although there is some debate on this issue, many experts have built consensus around the idea that subfolders are more beneficial. This means that your blog URL should live in a folder on your site, e.g., example.com/blog.
According to Dave Chaffey, "Google will crawl new blog posts typically within days of launch" and "Backlinks and social mentions generated by the content on the blog can help other [content] on the domain i.e. product pages rank more highly."
Moz is one of the best sources for learning about SEO. Its SEO Learning Center states, "Search engines keep different metrics for domains than they do for subdomains, so even though Google itself has stated that — from a ranking perspective — content in subdomains and subdirectories is treated roughly equally, it's still recommended that webmasters place link-worthy content like blogs in subfolders rather than subdomains (i.e. www.example.com/blog/ rather than blog.example.com)."
Another great source for information related to SEO is SEO.com, where Andy Eliason writes, "While blogs on subdomains provide very little SEO value, some companies still choose to divide up their website this way." He says, "Blog integration is an important part of content marketing, and more and more of your SEO is going to rely on that high-quality, regularly produced content. You don’t want to separate all that good stuff from your main domain."
Dharmesh Shah, the founder of Hubspot, shared the advice he got from his friend Rand Fishkin: "More recently, my friend (and co-creator of inbound.org) Rand Fishkin dug back into this topic ... I'll summarize his position: Use sub-directories if you can. They're better for SEO. Even though Google has stated it doesn't matter -- for now, it does seem to."
During my MBA program, we had some long classes that were split into two halves by a 15-minute break. During many of those breaks, two classmates and I discussed all sorts of topics, from blockchain to time travel. Others would gather in the hallway to listen to our conversations, made more entertaining by the fact that we have totally different perspectives on most topics. So, over a year ago, we started Positive Feedback Loop.
Why listen to a podcast?
I spend so much time at the computer managing social media for my clients that reading more on the computer screen gets tiring. Podcasts are a great way to learn while resting my eyes. I can do relaxing tasks like washing the dishes or doing stretches while listening to a podcast that keeps me up to speed on the changing world of social media.
Let me tell you about some fun and educational podcasts about social media marketing.
- Social Media Lab is a new podcast by Agorapulse. The Agorapulse team does cool social media experiments and tells you the results. For example, "Is Twitter penalizing 3rd party apps?"
- Social Media Marketing Podcast by Social Media Examiner is a podcast that is more generally devoted to sharing knowledge about using social media marketing for business success.
- The Science of Social Media is a podcast by Buffer. They interview people from different industries about their social media marketing.
Add these three to your playlist and let me know how it goes. Tweet me @hatchsteph to share what you're learning! Also, if you're interested in listening to Positive Feedback Loop (PFL), try one of my favorite recent episodes: Internet Exaggeration.
There may be many attributes of your brand, but you can’t be everything to everyone or you will lose focus and the consumer will lose focus too. Having a clear identity results in a strong position.
Let's do Exercise 1 of my book "Brand Positioning" right now. Get out your notebook (analog or digital) to jot down your ideas.
Think of all the pain points your consumer has for which your product is a solution. You might be able to think of one right away, but take the time to consider additional pain points. Once you've written down those pain points, add more detail.
For example, if you sell hair brushes, the consumer pain point may be volumizing their hair. What if we add more detail to this pain point. Some consumers need to volumize their hair, but a subset of those consumers also struggle with the typical round brush being way too big for travel--a big brush makes it hard to get everything into a carry-on. This may be a specific pain point that your brush solves. What else do your customers struggle with?
In the example, if you were to stop your brainstorm at "people need to brush their hair" or "need to volumize hair," you'd have broad pain points that aren't specific enough to result in a strong brand position. Your answers to this exercise determine your success for the next steps in identifying brand positioning that leads to business success.
Having trouble? Try listening
If you find that you're not very aware of consumers' pain points as they relate to your products, there are some ways to optimize your efforts with this exercise. One of the best ways to identify your consumers' pain points is to use social media listening. Don't just listen to your customers, who are already buying your product; listen to consumers outside of your circle who are talking about what they struggle with. These may be consumers who don't even know there is a solution out there.