The world is on social media, so we have to have a presence – but we can’t let it consume us. Social media is just a piece of the strategy.
Ruthie Sterrett is a brand and marketing strategist and founder of The Consistency Corner, a content management agency that helps small business owners create content that drives revenue through quarterly planning, simple marketing best practices, positive reinforcement, and accountability. As you know, I’m not a social media lover. I use it. I’m a business owner, of course, we need a presence, but I don’t love the time that it takes from entrepreneurs. I think there’s so much we could be doing towards revenue producing tasks outside of social media, and Ruthie hit that dead-on.
If you are finding yourself sucked into social media rabbit holes, Ruthie is going to give you tips, tactics, and ideas you can start using today to get yourself out of that and create a strategy around your content.
From retail to social media marketing
Ruthie spent years working in retail management and merchandising before taking on a corporate retail role overseeing merchandising strategy. She had the opportunity to work closely with the marketing team.
“I knew retail and I knew people. The marketing manager at the time had a marketing degree but didn’t know retail and didn’t know people,” says Ruthie. The two worked very closely, and as a side hustle she dug into blogging and personal brands and network marketing. When the manager eventually left, she was offered the chance to step into the marketing department and she leaned in.
She was able to pivot her experience in retail to support the brand in shifting its messaging away from the product, which had been their strategy, to be more about the customer. Over the course of several years, Ruthie helped that company scale its e-commerce division by over 900%.
Ruthie started working with a coach and invested in a mastermind group, thinking she was going to pursue health and fitness coaching. It was in the group that she was reminded she taught herself successful marketing strategies and she could teach others to do the same. Just 18 months later, she resigned from her corporate job and started her business.
She started the business to help working moms, and as it evolved, that continues to be her personal “why?” Her mission is to hire other working moms, women who want to use their zone of genius and their skills and their gifts, but also be there for their family and have that supportive environment and flexible schedule.
“I’m very early in my entrepreneur journey. I still have to remind myself that you don’t always have to know all the steps, but you got to take the next right one,” says Ruthie.
Social media is not a strategy
Ruthie’s marketing journey began pre-pandemic in 2018. She remembers signing up for a free training webinar and thinking the person was making it look easy – that a strategy for posts and just posting them would equal business just coming in.
She turned the webinar off.
At the time, she was managing 16 different social media profiles, creating content, being in charge of email marketing, managing relationships with brands, plus merchandising. She was spending hours and hours and hours on social media for work.
“But then I would come home and I would scroll for my side hustle and for personal reasons and I would let half an hour or 45 minutes to an hour go by. And then I put my phone down and realize I don't feel any better. That hour didn't add anything to my life,” says Ruthie.
But she couldn’t just throw her phone away. She had to figure out a way to manage social media without sacrificing her marketing strategy.
Social media is a container
Ruthie likes to compare social media to a coffee cup. A coffee cup isn’t coffee, it’s a container for your coffee. Social media is a container for your marketing strategy. Other containers are email, your website, networking, podcast, and blogs to name some.
She says what people find themselves doing is comparing themselves to their competition. When we talk about seeing people on the beach saying they work two and half hours with 500 million followers – ask where were they five years ago. What are all the steps that they took between now and then to get where they are today? Somebody who just started their business can’t compare, and they aren’t seeing that entire history on the timeline.
“Sometimes those steps that those experts are teaching don’t work because you don’t have the same equity that their brand has. You’ve got to figure out a strategy that works for you, which is different than the strategy that works for them,” says Ruthie.
That’s right everyone. Even big brands and corporations are looking at each other freaking out over what each other is doing. How are we ever going to break an industry or actually put out something original if we’re just watching everybody else who’s watching us?
Ruthie adds that AI is adding to this aspect as well. She says AI can save you time, but it’s scraping content from others and so it’s just recycling and rehashing what’s already out there. And the consumer is going to get bored with that.
Get a handle on your social media consumption
The first step is to take your phone and look at your screen time. Be aware of the number. No judgment. Ask yourself if your phone is telling you that you’re averaging three hours on Instagram. How does that make you feel?
Full transparency, Ruthie says last week her phone told her she spent an average of six hours and 18 minutes a day. It is her job, but it doesn’t include the time she spends on her computer either.
She says every business owner can ask themselves: Is that serving me? How is my energy? And if it’s not serving you, then lower the number.
And a lot of business owners will say their number is high, but they are using that time to post the reel or do the thing. The question becomes how we can plan our content so that we’re faster at creating it.
Ruthie advocates for quarterly planning. That doesn’t mean you have to create it all at once, but you create a recipe and a framework to follow so that when you sit down to batch create, the process is faster.
For a quarter, Ruthie says she might map out what her podcast topics are going to be every week, then the same for email marketing. When is she going to send emails? What's the intent of all of those emails right now? For social media, how many times can she post consistently without burning out? And depending on the season, it might be different.
If you’re in a launch season, you might post seven days a week. If not, it might be four days a week. Picking the cadence and then building a framework where every Tuesday, you post a quote. Every Thursday, you post a reel. Every Friday, you post a photo with a story. And when you sit down to batch, you can do it in a platform like Meta Suite or Google Docs instead of your phone.
Create a launch calendar
Ruthie also advocates for creating launch calendars. She says even if you’re a service-based business that is always taking on clients, creating campaigns around themes and patterns help your brain make decisions.
Campaigns in your calendar can also help you think about the funnel: attract, nurture, and convert and make sure the content serves those purposes. The next step is to match the containers and platforms you’re using to those purposes.
Other social media tips:
- When picking how often to post, consider dialing it back so that if you want to jump on a trend, you have the space to.
- Ensure you have a container for long-form content (podcast, blog, video). Long-form content can be broken up and repurposed.
- To reduce your screen time, consider using an app limiting program, or drop all your social apps into a folder called ‘time sucks.’
Sometimes we just need to break those habits, to reset our intention and reset our thoughts, and then we can come back with that content planning mindset with that awareness around how frequently we're scrolling and use our time more effectively.