Social media is critical for your business. You can’t do without it. If you do choose to go with it, you’d ideally be spending all your productive time on conversations, responses, comments, sharing, and small talk — not exactly a great way to spend your day.
Social does have plenty of opportunities across the board for small businesses and marketers but doing a lot of it is a huge opportunity cost for your business.
Random dabbling with social media content won’t get you anything. You’d, at best, need a performance-based approach to social media marketing, as Jon Wade at Clickz.com points out.
How do you get the best of social media without spending too much time, an arm, and a leg? What rules should you set-aside for yourself before venturing out with your social media accounts?
Here are a few tips for you:
1. Figure out what you need from social media
Social media isn’t like your local market – you don’t go out to sell. In fact, you’d think twice even before you promote anything. If you can’t sell directly and if you can’t promote blatantly, what would you do on social media? It’s for you to set goals and work towards them.
Social media is best for spreading the word about your business (and not just promoting your products). Social media is a platform for establishing credibility. It’s the best way to contribute and share. It’s your springboard to help others with their problems (for free) because you are an expert. Perhaps you’d like to use social media for recruiting, as Jorgen Sundberg at Business2community.com explains.
If all that you give comes back to you, benefit from the immense brand recognition, viral spread, and plain love that’ll come back to you. If a few of these companies or individuals you are helping – with no strings attached –do come back to learn more, spend outright, and purchase your products and services, that’s when you’ll close your sale.
It’s slow. It takes time. It still works.
2. Go slow at it
David Schwartz recently wrote how social brands just don’t sprout overnight, and he has a good reason to come to that conclusion. In real life, it takes ages to build a reputation and that applies to social media as well.
In fact, David’s inputs on building and growing your network, creating a strategy and plan, creating unique and specific content, sharing and staying active on social media, and being prepared to respond pro-actively will all take time.
That’s why, earmark social media success for long-term benefits and take it slow. Build your network one fan or follower at a time. Create and publish content for thought leadership, one update at a time.
3. Salvaging Non-productive time for Social Media
Since social media does suck out all the available time for business, you’ll need to be efficient, ruthless, calculating, and shrewd when it comes to allocating time for your social media efforts. Whether you are working all by yourself or have a full-fledged team to help you manage your social media efforts, you’ll need to ration time.
Allocate fixed, non-productive blocks of time during the day for all things to do with social media. Most people find mornings extremely productive for actual business-related work. Some night owls would like the peace and quiet grabbed post-midnight. More often than not, afternoons are usually anyone’s playfield. Drake Baer at FastCompany.com actually specifies 2.55 PM as the least productive time of the day. Allocate work such as social media efforts that’ll take you a while to benefit from to times such as those.
Afternoons don’t have to be unproductive after all.
4. X Time Spent; Y Output Aimed for
While it’s entirely up to you as to how you’ll allocate time for social media, you’ll need systems and mechanics in place to ensure that you’d get a fixed output for every hour spent on social media. While you don’t have to think about “ROI” for every hour spent, you’ll still need self-directed objectives and results. For yourself or for your team, specify these objectives for every hour spent:
What can you do in one hour on social media?
- 2-3 customized updates on each social network, count to 4-5 networks.
- 5 small conversations with 5 new fans or followers.
- 15 Retweets (each with added custom content) on Twitter, 5 shares on Facebook, 5 Re-pins on Pinterest, and another 5 shares on LinkedIn.
- 10 brand new shares on your most popular networks such as Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn.
That’s one person’s average possible output in an hour. Hire a team and this activity scales up. Of course, you’ll do well to spread out your content distribution and activity on social media networks.
5. Use tools. Period
Consider this: if you had to work across multiple social media networks (each network demanding slightly varying content formatting), logging into and out of networks takes away more time than you can imagine. That’s why it makes sense to work with some popular tools such as HootSuite for social media management.
You’d need to open HootSuite’s central dashboard and work on your social media updates, content, sharing, publishing, comments, and responses. You’d also be able to update content in bulk if you can pre-plan and produce before planning your content distribution.
Other tools exist for other purposes:
- Bottlenose - For getting a feel for brand conversations, influence, and trending topics
- Conversocial.com - To connect with customers
- ViralHeat - To measure sentiment and meet other influencers
- Tagboard - To keep track of trending hash tags
- Ubervu.com - Social analytics and insights
- WooBox - Loads of different handy Facebook apps
- LiveTweetApp - A tool to facilitate live tweeting (eg, from conferences)
- Tweriod – Insight to help you work out the best time for tweeting
Pick your tools depending on what you need for your business and work with knowledge. That’s another way you can keep track of conversations that mean to you, trends that you’ll benefit from, and stay in touch with followers or fans that’ll be your customers one day.
6. Social and the ripple effect: Tag it and bag it
Social is social, at the outset. Underneath the overwhelming sprawl of social lies a hundred other things that’ll accrue to your business. Let’s call it the “ripple effect” (we didn’t invent the term and we don’t know who did).
Long-term and effective use of Google+ – along with other social networks – has social benefits, as Pam Dyer at Social Media Today enunciates. Social presence leads to trust among others while it helps you build a brand through the community route.
Social media is the only way you can interact and engage with your customers (both present and potential) without slapping the pressure on them to make a purchase. It’s an effective way to nurture leads and to stay in touch with your customers until they make a decision to buy.
Social media allows you the leverage of viral. It helps others share your content and spread the word. It’s the ultimate brand builder and also helps you to serve customers directly.
What kind of rules do you set for yourself for effective social media work? Share your ideas with us.