Just a few years ago, a lot of business owners discovered something great about basic social media marketing: Once you have your profiles set up, it's largely a matter of investing time, rather than money. For those used to burning through cash on pay-per-click or other forms of advertising, it was music to their years.
The only problem? These days, working with Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and others sometimes doesn't just take time… it can take a lot of time. In fact, it's easy for social media to turn you into a minimum-wage employee, if you are spending lots of time without getting the right results.
Besides, with more and more businesses looking to increase their efficiency and work with smaller teams, time isn’t something most of us have a lot of to throw around. But, there is still big potential in social networking, so the challenge is to remain effective without burning up too many available hours.
In some organizations, that means dropping social networking altogether, or just posting the bare minimum in terms of new content and requests for connections. We want you to do better than that, though.
In fact, here are some easy-to-use tips for keeping up with social media on a tight time schedule:
Use the OHIO method.
This tip, which stands for "Only Handle It Once," comes to me from time management expert Karen Turner. Most of us spend unnecessary hours re-reading messages, deciding what to do with pieces of information, putting off filing, and so on. It's much better to decide whether we need them, or can act on them, in the present moment than to let them clutter our inbox (or our thinking). By keeping OHIO in mind, you can make smart decisions now, especially with regard to your social media profiles.
Put the right tools to work.
Some social media applications like HootSuite can be real timesavers because they allow you to schedule posts ahead of time. That means you can time your social media content for release when it’s most effective, without letting it take up the busiest part of your day. Just make sure you don't authorize apps that do strange things on your behalf, and that you ensure that you aren't scheduling things so far in the future that you lose track of what you're posting day to day.
Follow an editorial calendar.
Think of your social media profiles as an ongoing conversation and source of ideas, rather than one-off thoughts and random postings. The key to making that work is thinking ahead. Just as magazines and major websites use an editorial calendar to plan future content, you should have some key themes and ideas sketched out ahead of time, as well. That will help you stay on track, and also prevent writer’s block when it's time to come up with something new to say.
Get creative help.
Of course, one of the easiest ways to decrease the time burden of social media is simply to share the load with someone else – usually a creative team or online marketing partner. Your social content should never be completely outsourced, since you still want to be in charge of setting the tone and direction, but working with another agency can help you express your ideas clearly without taking a lot of time.
Focus on results, not entertainment.
One of the biggest obstacles to using social media productively is simply keeping your productivity in mind. In other words, it's easy to get distracted by playing games, looking at other people's profiles, reading jokes, or watching viral videos. There's a time and place for all of this, but it's not when you have more important things to get done.
Social media sites can be a great tool for business. But, they can also be an enormous drain on your time if you aren't careful about the way you work and intentional about the kinds of results you want to create. Keep your goals and available calendar space in mind, though, and you should be able to get the most from sites like Facebook and Twitter without neglecting the rest of your work in the process.
Questions about social media? Consider enroling in Kayak's Online Marketing and Social Networking class.