Social media is an effective marketing channel, without question, BUT social media can turn into an enormous time suck that keeps busy business people away from other tasks that require time and attention. This post will help you manage your social media marketing efficiently, so your success in social media doesn’t cause other parts of your business to falter.
1. Set specific social media goals
A term we hear a lot at Straight North (and at most agencies, I’d imagine) is scope creep. Scope creep comes about when clients enter into an agreement to build a website or conduct a marketing campaign, and then keep adding more and more tasks. The result of scope creep is added cost, added time, and almost always, poor results because the original purpose of the project got lost in the shuffle.
Scope creep happens to entrepreneurs who jump into social media marketing without having a specific purpose and sticking to it. Scope creep comes about easily on social media because there is so much conversation, so many ways to interact and so many things to achieve. So, narrow it down. Three excellent goals for small business social marketing include:
- Building brand awareness
- Building credibility
- Generating sales leads
Once you settle on your goals (three are plenty), you are in a position to figure out what type of content you want to share, how often, and how to build your community. Curtail sidetrack conversations and community-building activities that don’t serve your purpose.
2. Limit the number of platforms you use
It’s very important to understand which social platforms your target audience uses. Clearly, if your customers and peers don’t use a particular platform for business, that platform is a great candidate to ignore. If you feel as though you’re beating your head against the wall trying to get people to engage with you on a particular platform, drop it. Either use that precious time on other social platforms where you’re doing better, or work on another business task.
At the other end of the spectrum, even if your target audience is active on all of the major platforms, you still can scale back. Repeating the same conversations and sharing the same content to the same people across multiple platforms becomes tiresome to your community — they may tune out. If you have time to develop separate messaging strategies and/or separate audience focus for the various platforms, that can work, but be prepared to significantly ramp up your time commitment. Can you afford it?
3. Don’t make social media your happy place
People get addicted to social media because it’s such a friendly place to banter with peers, spout off about this or that business issue, and even engage in political or cultural conversations. For many people, this is a lot more fun than making cold calls or reviewing balance sheets. Don’t let social media turn into your happy place. It keeps you from putting in time on the things that make or break your business.
The key here is not only to set firm time limits on your social media activity, but also to schedule adequate time for the tasks you need to do but don’t like to do. For many, sales or number crunching is quite unpleasant, but whatever it is that you dread, that’s probably the thing you need to do.
4. Schedule shares, engage when you can
Sharing content — yours and others — can be automated by using platforms such as Sprout Social or Hootsuite. For your content, it’s easy to set up a schedule months in advance so it is shared on the day and time of your choosing, and with the right frequency. Newly published third-party content can be set up as a daily task, if you use a feed reader such as Feedly, and check it routinely. This simple bit of automation saves a tremendous amount of time.
Engagement is a different story. It’s OK to take breaks during the day to check your feeds for mentions and messages. Responding quickly boosts your credibility and earns sales leads. To tell if engagement activity is becoming a time suck, measure it. Keep a log for a week, and review. Then ask yourself two questions: How many hours did I spend on social media engagement? What do I have to show for it? With this simple analysis, repeated as needed, your social media time management will improve dramatically.
Brad Shorr is Director of Content Strategy at Straight North, a professional SEO company in Chicago. With more than 25 years of sales and marketing experience, Brad has been featured in leading online publications including American Marketing Association, Forbes and Moz.