photo of books with mobile phone and hands

Putting a social media dashboard to work.

When I taught social media classes for small business I usually had the crowd until about the third session. We covered the big three social networks (Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram) and touched on the myriad of other platforms that might be relevant for their particular business. The eye-glazing came at the moment the small business owner realized that yes, she or he was going to have to manage to create content, produce compelling images, and yes, post regularly to each of the chosen networks. On top of running a business.

Sadly, there’s no way around that moment but happily, there are ways to lighten the load. The answer to the black hole of social media is called a dashboard, or scheduler.  And the secret to effectively using a dashboard is to use another tool for planning – the social media content calendar.  Fancy names, but really the concept is simple. Create a spreadsheet, plan your content and times in advance, then log into your dashboard and start scheduling.

In the past I’ve used Hootsuite and Buffer, and I continue to use TweetDeck because I just love it. Every dashboard has it’s pros and cons, and I’ll leave it to another time to discuss them individually. My current tool, and it isn’t cheap, is Edgar. Edgar is awesome and even though I cry a little each time I’m billed, it really is turning out to be an incredible tool.

Edgar allows me to create libraries of evergreen content for almost all the social media platforms (except Instagram… Instagram is still strictly designed to be used with mobile) and schedule regular, consistent posts. Evergreen content is content that is timeless for your brand – your blog posts, your products, your team, your videos. Evergreen content is the backbone of your social media content – it rolls out reliably even as you create new material.

As a small business owner, your task will be to learn to use a dashboard and then to schedule time to populate that dashboard with content. You’ll use blocks of time for this, just like you schedule time to work on your books, or update your website. You’ll use your social media blocks to check for interaction and to respond, to create new posts and images and videos to share. You’ll set aside time and you’ll try to limit your social media time to those blocks…. in order not to disappear down the rabbit hole of social media.

It isn’t an impossible task – but sometimes you need someone to sit down with you and take you through it. And you have to give yourself time to develop the habit. You can’t be in a hurry to build your social media networks – good networks take time and they are only created by consistently churning out great content. It’s a job. If you can’t find the time, hire someone. Social media is a skill that some pick up easily and others struggle with, just like any other specialized skill. Not everyone is handy with a wrench, either.

To sum it up…. don’t throw the bedcovers over your head when it comes time to get serious about your social media campaign. Find a dashboard, start a spreadsheet, and, if you just can’t face it, call a pro.