Ok, we all know that social media marketing is, like, totally awesome. It can boost your business' exposure, traffic, yada, yada, yada. Some even say web marketing can't survive without it.
But in all of its awesomeness, there is one caveat about social media marketing: It takes time. A lot of it. Especially if you're doing it right (i.e. actually engaging with your audience and not just posting links to your site). In fact, 63% of marketers spend 6 or more hours a week on social media marketing activities, and nearly 19% spend more than 20 hours a week.
Sorry, I can't magically take away all of your social media marketing duties. But I do have some tips to speed the process along.
1. Limit It
We all know not to jump off a bridge just because everyone else does. So why do so many businesses basically do exactly that when it comes to social media?
Nobody has time to engage on all of the networks they "should" be on. The only real reason to be on a social network is because your audience is there, and you believe you can engage with them there.
The first step, then, is to figure out where they are. This takes a little detective work, but it will save you time by narrowing down the networks you need to engage on.
Start slow, building a presence on the network that is most popular with your audience first. Once you've established your presence, and have streamlined your participation there, then you can move on to the next most popular network for your audience.
If your audience isn't there, don't waste resources on it, no matter how popular it may be in general.
2. Automate It
This is a bit of a touchy subject, but the bottom line is you have to automate some of your social media participation - unless social media is your only job.
But just like any technology, social media automation can be abused. You should never, for example, automate responses. Case in point - no one wants an automated tweet that says "Thanks for sharing" every time someone shares one of your tweets.
You should always seek to engage in real-time. This is also another reason why you should take it one social network at a time, so that you can ensure you have the resources to respond in a timely manner when someone engages with your company on social media.
There are typically three types of social media tools you need to improve your efficiency:
- Scheduling: Scheduling tools enable you to plan your posts in advance so you don't have to be on social media every time you want a post to go out. I mostly use Buffer to schedule posts from our blog and curated content. I've also put a number of evergreen posts into Social Jukebox because, unlike Buffer, it will put the posts back into a queue to be continually re-published.
- Curation: You need easy ways to find valuable information from other experts that you can share. I like using Tweetdeck to monitor the streams of industry influencers. I also use the RSS reader Feedly to keep up with the best digital marketing blogs, and I subscribe to some forum digests and industry newsletters that also provide great articles to share. I recently discovered another tool called Nuzzel which creates a newsletter based on what your friends are engaging with on social media.
- Monitoring: You also need to know if someone mentions your business or industry on social media, so that you can engage in those conversations and address any issues. Tweetdeck is good for monitoring Twitter streams, while Mention and SEMRush can help you keep tabs on your mentions across the internet.
3. Analyze It
Again, you're not doing social media just to do it - you're doing it to achieve certain goals for business.
You need to decide what those goals are (brand awareness, traffic, sales), then you need to track your social media metrics to see if your efforts are working toward those goals.
A good place to start is Google Analytics. Traffic isn't the be-all end-all of metrics, but you do want to ensure that your social media efforts are bringing in traffic, and which platforms are doing that the best.
If a network isn't bringing in much traffic, you may want to reconsider what you're posting there, or question if the network is worth your time at all. But keep in mind, traffic is only part of the story. If you're seeing a lot of engagement (shares, likes, comments, etc.), you're raising brand awareness, and you may want to keep on keepin' on.
We like True Social Metrics to track engagement and to see which posts performed the best. Each social network offers its own analytics as well, which can give you some of this information. Additionally. I often use Buffer's analytics to determine which posts resonated with our audience, and then reschedule them so that they can be discovered by people who may not have seen them the first time around.
The point is, you want to figure out which social media efforts are helping you meet your goals and which aren't, so you can focus your time on those that bring you ROI.
4. Time It
Social media has a well-earned reputation of being a time suck, so you should also decide, ahead of time, how long you're going to allocate to it - even set a timer if you're prone to zoning out. Just make sure that you're setting aside a sufficient amount of time to get the job done right.
There's no doubt about it, social media requires a time investment, but when done right, it's one that can reap big rewards for your company. Using these tips, you'll be able to better fit social media marketing into your busy schedule - without losing your mind.