The question on how to deal with social media overload is probably the most asked question in my consulting practice. How do I execute on all the things I could do with social media, while having a limited amount of resources (especially a lack of time and people)?
This post strives to provide a few answers to make your (social media) life more pleasant. Part 1 of a series.
1. Prioritize Ruthlessly Nobody can do it all. When I worked at Documentum, the then CEO, Jeff Miller, once told us in a company meeting: "If I can prioritize, so can you. If I have a list of 10 things I need to get done, I focus on the top three. It's the only way to be successful".
2. Be Clear About Your Objectives Being clear on objectives goes hand in hand with prioritization. To prioritize, you have to be crystal clear on what you are trying to achieve and define it in a way that allows you to measure success. I love this example from Southwest Airlines:
- In 1971, Rollin King and Herb Kelleher started an airline service with one simple notion:
"If you get your passengers to their destinations when they want to get there, on time, at the lowest possible fares, and make darn sure they have a good time doing it, people will fly your airline."
- During an interview on NPR, with an executive at Southwest, they talked about this focus, and the executive added that all strategic decisions are based on the above notion. For example, once, Southwest considered introducing free meals (good time goal) but this would not have met the goal of providing the lowest fares. It was scrapped. Simple!
Make sure to include personal goals as well as business goals in your planning, like spending time with your family and exercising; activities that contribute to your overall happiness, effectiveness and, hence, success.
3. Work SMART
While I am not a proponent of automating all your social media marketing activities, you need the support of tools to make social media manageable.
There is a fine line between keeping a personal interaction with your audience and automating to a degree that makes your brand seem impersonal. Only you can decide where to draw that line.
Here a list of free and paid tools that help automate a range of social media activities:
- Bitly, the link shortener - but more importantly - link tracker; provides tons of statistics on click-throughs on your URLs used in tweets, blogs etc.
- Bitly integrates with many tools, including Crowdbooster ($8/month). A tool that gives you stats including, Twitter impressions, RTs, and mentions. (Unlike Hootsuite, you don't have to tweet through the tool to get the stats on RTs).
- Bufferapp.com. Schedule 10 tweets, Facebook or LinkedIn updates for free or pay to get more bandwidth.
- For a larger scale operation, there are tools like Hootsuite, Sprinklr, Spredfast and more that allow multiple users and, most importantly, scheduling and tracking for more platforms, including LinkedIn, Facebooks and even blogs. They are often called "campaign management tools".
- If you have a big budget, you can either outsource to an agency or bring tools like Radian6 or Alterian(now SDL) in-house to help you monitor your social media activity. Listening will help you be more effective in your overall efforts, show trends, sentiment and more.
- Again, if you have budget, tools like Hubspot can help automate marketing interaction and closed-loop tracking, as can Adobe Marketing Cloud (includes the formerly called tool Omniture).
- To give you an example: With just Bit.ly, you know when somebody clicked on your URL but you don't know what they did once they got to your landing page. The more sophisticated automation tools can tell you if a person came from Twitter or your blog, and if they, indeed, decided to register for your offer.
- But this is just the tip of the iceberg of what you could automate and track. Time and effort invested have to equal approximation to your goals.
The Bottom Line
In general, I reject the statements by social media professionals who tell you that to be successful, you have to be on 24/7. It's the sure way to burn yourself out. While it is easy to get sucked into the always on culture, from my own experience, I recommend you set clear boundaries and go offline regularly for extended periods of time.
"A 2009 study shows that optimal performance is when effort is balanced. that is, in the middle between little or no effort and tremendous strain. Making just the right amount of effort leads to the best results."
Please share your own tips below, on how you prevent social media overload!