As a small business owner, we know the perils of working for ourselves. There is no punching the clock at 5’o clock sharp. There is no true “time off.”
So much of what we do to build our business needs to be done consistently, repetitively, and reliably.
But at least with phone calls and in-person appointments, there is a realistic expectation of some downtime.
No one’s going to call you at 2 a.m. and expect you to pick up. When the sun sets, so do most of our customer-facing business activities.
Not so with social media. Social media never sleeps. It’s endless, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. If we’re not too careful, it can be voracious.
Everywhere you turn you will hear that in order to succeed online, you must be on social media.
You need to be everywhere! All the time! Figure out how to Facebook in your sleep because that’s when your key target market is awake and online!!
It’s enough to overwhelm even the most energetic person. Yes, social media is a hungry beast that needs to be fed constantly.
But if you’re not careful you will be feeding it with your workday, your precious productive time.
Here’s a list of 5 ways you can prevent your social media efforts from chomping up all your work hours like a big, fat, insatiable Pac-Man:
1. Pick Your Poison
Trying to be everywhere, all the time isn’t just unrealistic. It’s unnecessary. Better to really focus on one platform or two and get a regular rhythm down.
Spraying all the platforms buckshot-style with incessant posts will dilute your efforts. As always, I recommend testing out different social strategies and platforms and then sit back and watch for a bit.
Where are you getting the most engagement? The least? Are there any platforms where you don’t get a lot of likes or other quick nods of approval, but you do get a lot of valuable comments and shares?
Figure out where best to spend your time. Start with just two platforms.
2. Use The Tools
If you are manually updating all of your accounts, you are living in 2007. Because since 2008, a wonderful little tool was invented, called Hootsuite.
According to Wikipedia, this super-easy-to-use dashboard
“…supports social network integrations or Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Foursquare, MySpace, WordPress, TrendSpottr, and Mixi. Additional integrations are available via HootSuite’s App Directory, including Instagram, MailChimp, Reddit, Storify, Tumblr, Vimeo and YouTube.”
Talk about one stop shopping!
There’s a reason almost 10 million people use this free product. It saves you loads of hassle and a metric ton of time. Other great tools exist as well, including TweetDeck, Seesmic, Mention, and Outpost.
There’s no reason you should be hopping from site to site, logging in and out 18 million different times. Figure out which tool works best for you, link all your accounts once and then you’re done. Automation = major time savings.
Take that, Pac-Man!
3. Spend It Wisely
Your time, that is. All too often, entrepreneurs think that ‘working on their social media’ means rabidly posting to Facebook, tweeting every hour and thinking of ways to create the Next Big Viral Video on YouTube.
— !! Loud Buzzer Noise !! —
Wrong! The most important thing you can do on social media is not to produce and publish. The most important thing you can do is to listen and respond.
A very interesting report by Sprout Social found that, on average, out of every six messages that customers post to a company’s social media…five of them go completely unanswered!
That’s like letting your customer service phone ring and ring and ring all day and only picking it up once every six times!
Don’t let that happen to you. Before you even start to think of ways to create some random infographic, comb through any @mentions or Facebook wall posts and make sure you are replying to them in a timely fashion.
4. Think ROI
While it’s true that most businesses these days should have some kind of social media presence, how much you should have is up to you. As with most business advice, a lot depends on what kind of company you are running.
If you have a product that is very photogenic (say, a fashion line) than having a strong Pinterest campaign could turn into some real dollars and cents.
But if you are a marketing consultant, maybe try to post less often but with more meat to places like LinkedIn Pulse or Google Plus.
Blindly chasing unprofitable traffic is a quick way to spend your days spinning your wheels with nothing to show for it.
5. Set Boundaries
The very nature of social media marketing makes it more likely that you will spend far too much time on it. Think about it – it’s got the word ‘social’ right in there!
As a small business owner, there are going to be days you’re going to feel a bit isolated. So you hop online and read some related blogs and comment on them, in an effort to get your name out there.
You follow a link from that blog to their Facebook page and find an interesting discussion about an industry trend. You comment, someone else replies and recommends that you watch this fascinating YouTube video on the topic.
The next thing you know 2 hours have gone by!
It’s perfectly natural. And perfectly dangerous. I mean, who wouldn’t rather chit chat on Facebook or make new Twitter connections than, say, analyze pricing spreadsheets?
Everyone would! But that doesn’t mean it’s the best use of your time.
Pick a day (or days) you are going to work on your social media. Set a time for 2-3 hours for you to set up and schedule your posts for the week.
Then once a day, maybe at the end of the day, check on all your social media presences to make sure you haven’t missed a customer comment or complaint.
Other than that, resist the temptation to ‘work’ on social media whenever you feel like it. Keep it to those pre-set times and your days will never feel “eaten up” again!
Where do you focus your social media efforts? What’s the biggest time suck? Any tips or tricks you can share? Tell us in the comments below.
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