PGAs of Europe

Saving Time and Money: How Social Media Works For an Early-Stage Startup

There’s often a critical time (or two) in a business’s journey when it’s make or break and time is at a premium.

There’re often times beyond this, once a brand is established, where time is still scarce and efficiency is the name of the game.

The team at Smart Pension has felt both sides of this in the past couple years and has experienced the time crunch particularly on the social media side (sound familiar at all with your experience?). One of the UK’s leading pension companies, the Smart Pension team pulled through in an incredibly inspiring way.

Here’s their story of how they’ve come up with their social media strategy, saved time, and found the best tools to use.

Social media and an early-stage startup

Jack Saville, a marketing executive at Smart Pension, built his startup to be the go-to source for UK pension and auto enrolment. And one of the key marketing strategies he chose for traction was content.

One of the first jobs was to put as much great information and helpful content on the website as possible. However when we finished creating content, we also wanted to shout about it on social media.

We were churning out so much content in the beginning that logging and posting each article on each social media channel was becoming a real time consuming exercise. If we had had Buffer in the beginning we would have saved a great deal of time (and money) in the crucial start-up, make-or-break phase of our business.

Smart Pension made it through this early critical stage and is grateful to now be a more established entity. They’ve kept right on working.

The content team crushed it early on and put together the majority of the foundational, main topics needed to be a thought leader on pensions and enrolment. The next phase was tackling current news and changes, being more of a real-time resource for Smart Pension’s growing audience.

This shift to timely content also needed timely distribution, which is where social media marketing has really paid dividends for the team.

The news section is where we direct most of our efforts now. This is important, as investing a lot of time in your news section shows your customers that you are well aware of the changes in the industry, and that we know that the services we provide need to be altered and suited to the current market and the current pension laws. Social media is the channel in which we communicate our knowledge of industry changes to our customers.

Not a content creation problem … a content distribution one

In building out this news hub, Smart Pension ran into a slight problem:

We work so hard on making sure our news section addresses the current topics in the pension industry, that sometimes we finish a number of articles at the same time.

It’s a similar problem that might crop up for publishers, news organizations, online magazines, and others. It’s not that there’s any trouble coming up with content to share, it’s more a matter of knowing what to share and when to share it.

Jack and his team found the solution here with social media scheduling from Buffer.

Smart Pension spaces out new posts every few hours so that there’s room between each update.

The articles don’t all go up as a wall of similar-looking tweets and posts.

The buffered schedule makes it so that content hits the timeline at all times, helping to reach people who may be online at different times throughout the day.

And the beauty of it all: All this scheduling can be automated.

The scheduling function is also helpful to the work flow of the team. The team member who wrote the article can schedule the post for times of the day that we are posting less and then proceed to the next task. The team members do not have to try and remind themselves of when to post their articles.

Additionally, with the scheduling function we can then post articles at night and at weekends when team members would not necessarily be working. This means that we can have a round the clock presence on social media, without having one of our team members staying up all night!

Scheduling + Analytics

Lots of content to share and a set number of times to share it all: When do you get the most bang for your buck with social media sharing?

The Smart Pension team came up with a few experiments to test the best time to post for engagement.

Here’s an example:

To find out if it’s better to post extra content at night or over the weekends, set up a schedule for both and check the results.

After a few days, log into the Analytics section of Buffer and check to see which time slots have tended to perform the best. You can see this from the Analytics view with a quick glance and intuition…

… or you can export data from your past period of experiments, and filter the results for each different time.

Here’s a sample spreadsheet using data from my own sharing:

(Couple this with the takeaways from Buffer’s optimal timing tool to get even more confirmation for which way you’re leaning.)

Great content goes great with images

As we are a start-up, we cannot afford to have a graphic designer to create the imagery for our social media posts every time we need to post something. Pablo give us the ability to make our social media posts look interesting and exciting, whilst not having to pay for a graphic designer to design them and create them.

According to our most recent data here at Buffer, we’ve found that tweets with images get 150% more engagement than tweets without.

The takeaway: Test content with images!

We believe in this so strongly that we built our own tool for making this as easy as can be. The free image creator at Pablo makes it simple to create images for Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and more, all at the ideal image size, all looking beautiful—no matter your design skills.

Here are some that the Smart Pension team has used on their latest social media updates:

Working with a team on a social media calendar

And another key piece to the team’s workflow and system is keeping all this distribution organized. One of Buffer’s newest features works great in this case: the social media calendar.

 

Our content calendar is designed to make sure that we are regularly completing and posting content through buffer. We can all log into buffer and see what other people are planning, and then we can plan our content around the existing scheduled posts.

Image sources: Iconfinder, Pablo