Reduce Your Stress By Planning Ahead

 Apiarity - Plan

By Stephanie Leishman

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? 

What Should Be the URL of My Blog?

 Computer screen open, ready to set up your blog

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."

Learn about social media marketing from these podcasts

 Listen to these podcasts

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. 

  1. 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?" 
  2. 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. 
  3. 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

Have You Identified Consumer Pain Points?

 Brand Positioning, Exercise 1

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.

First, brainstorm

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?

Be specific

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.

5 Photographers in Dahlonega, Georgia to Follow on Instagram

 #dahlonega (Instagram hashtag for Dahlonega, Georgia)

There are so many interesting small towns in the world and they happen to be full of talented people who are winning on social media. Therefore, let’s focus on one small town and see who’s producing amazing content. In this post, we’re focusing on photographers in Dahlonega, Georgia who you might want to follow on Instagram. #dahlonega

Phil Procida

A photographer with a consistent aesthetic is Phil Procida, whose photos seem to have a dark sheen to them. I am mesmerized by his “glass ball” photo. Phil often features nature when the light is low, from dusk to even as late as 3am, so that he can play with an element of light in the composition. Some of his images will blow your lid off

Cari Pilgrim

Cari Pilgrim calls herself a Dahlonega-based “elopement, wedding + portrait photographer.” Her Instagram account is full of awesome wedding shots as well as details between shots, like photos of the landscape around her. You might also want to visit her website, where she does a bit of storytelling to provide context to the photos. One of my favorite photos by this skilled wedding photographer is what I call “the leaning tree.”

Michelle + Brandon Horn

Meet the dynamic duo Michelle and Brandon Horn, who are husband and wife photographers in Dahlonega who describe themselves in three words: adventure, love, and life. They are great at creating not only a consistent visual aesthetic, but also a consistent value-based focus to their posts. For example, they include faithful messages in their Instagram feed, like their post about why they love to honor the Sabbath Day. Their photos capture the remarkable, intimate moments of weddings, such as their shot of a bride dabbing a tear from her eye.

Wisdom&Stature

Wisdom&Stature Photography is owned by Rachel, a “traveling wedding + portrait photographer” in Dahlonega who is “dedicated to capturing the beauty of every single moment.” Her Instagram feed has a professional feel, with each photo capturing that perfect moment. She’ll even make your shoes look good.

Brittany Peters

On the other end of the spectrum is Brittany Peters of Nine Sixteen Photography, whose Instagram feed makes you feel like you’re family. She shares the personal moments of her daily experience that help a prospective client understand the type of person he or she will be working with, because we know it’s not just about talent—it’s about personality too! She specializes in adorable Anne Geddes-style baby photos, and true to her personality, she throws in a few not-so-baby baby pics

Who is your favorite Dahlonega-based photographer? 

If you know of other talented photographers in Dahlonega and have a favorite Instagram account to share, please comment on this post! Let's help give some visibility to those skilled with the camera in Northern Georgia. 

See Results with Apiarity Social Media Management

One of the services we offer is social media management. This is a critical service for many customers, especially those who do not want to hire a full-time, in-house social media manager, but want the expertise of a digital marketing agency. The difference between using our social media management services and doing it yourself can be huge. Here is an example. 

The charts below represent data for a past client who contracted our services for a finite period of three months before the product launch. No matter what the social media would look like after those three months, the client company had solidified plans to have its interns to manage the social media marketing from that point forward. This presented a great opportunity for us to watch the data and see the difference in impact for a "before and after" case study. When the three-month engagement ended, the company's management handed social media management over to their interns and we tracked analytics for the next several months.

 Twitter growth data, January–October 2017. The green line represents follower growth. 

Twitter growth data, January–October 2017. The green line represents follower growth. 

In this image above, the data show the steep growth curve during the three months we managed this company's accounts. The same goes for the Instagram data, which looks very similar (see below). 

 Instagram growth data, January-October 2017. The green line represents follower growth.

Instagram growth data, January-October 2017. The green line represents follower growth.

Again, during the months that we actively managed accounts, the company's Instagram account experienced a high growth rate. Also, the followers we gained for the client were high-quality in terms of loyalty; there is very little drop-off. 

The honest truth is that it is hard to do what you do best—run your day-to-day business—while managing social media strategy. Getting expert help can make or break your marketing.