My biggest challenge as a social media professional isn’t trying to convince small business owners of the value of social media marketing.
It’s not even trying to educate them about the competitive advantage they can gain by using social media marketing in their marketing arsenal, since they can plainly see their competitors using it successfully. My biggest challenge is to overcome their biggest objection to social media marketing: TIME.
While it is absolutely true that social media marketing can be a giant time suck, there are many ways to work smarter and not harder.
Social media marketing does not have to take over your life in order for your campaigns to be effective. I know that it sounds like the antithesis of “social”, but the tsunami of information available daily means you need to make sure you are maximizing the impact of your message by using some automation.
- Preschedule posts You must use one of the automation tools available to be able to schedule posts, whether they be on your blog, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or the new Social Site Du Jour. Some do this because their analytics show that they have more engagement during strategic time periods – others merely want to reach clients on a different time zone. Whatever your reasons, automating your social media marketing with a scheduling application just makes sense. If your business has application, or you have influence worldwide, you will want to be able to establish a social media presence 24/7, optimize message delivery for maximum impact and eliminate the need for toothpicks to prop up your eyelids while logging midnight marathons in front of the computer. Don’t forget, in addition to daily or weekly posting schedules, it’s also possible to reach into the future using an automated schedule. For example, on this very blog, you may have recently read a post remembering Martin Luther King that I wrote quite a while ago, and scheduled to post on the 44th anniversary of his death. I was thinking about it just after his birthday holiday in January, but rather than wait until April and possibly forget about doing it at all, I went ahead while I was still inspired and scheduled it to run on April 4.
- RSS feeds. By connecting your blog or RSS feed to your social media account, it is possible to kill two or three birds with one stone. Your blog post can automatically feed to Networked Blogs, for example, which feeds to Facebook. From there, you can feed directly to Twitter. However, you will want to keep in mind that there could be search engine penalties for duplicate content before deciding upon this option. If you have a social media marketing team, you should coordinate with them to be sure that they are not using this kind of option in a way that limits fresh content. You need to find the right balance between convenience and effectiveness. You also need to be absolutely sure that the source of your feed is trustworthy, and will not post or tweet items that you would never want to be associated with, or that would insult or embarrass your audience.
- Automate Messages. Or not. Remember those auto responder email messages? Today’s social media marketing version includes Direct Message features but the idea is still the same; an instant or timed response. Used with care and caution, automated messages are still a viable way to thank people for following you, acknowledge new connections or otherwise automate routine communications. But the operative word is “caution.” There are people who view any kind of response to joining as something spammy, and it is hard to know who that might be if you arrange to send an automated message before you have had a chance to check them out.
- Unfollowing. Know when it is time to end a relationship that isn’t working or it’s merely time to clean up old contacts. So many of them are not “relationships” anway, and chances are they will not even know unless you were one of their most ardent admirers. Rather than trying to sort each and every contact manually, use software to help gain the upper hand and unfollow, or whitelist others. Winnow out those who do not contribute to your primary objective of social media marketing.
- Think globally and act locally…when it comes to keywords. Geo-targeting is a great tool but can be time consuming when not properly set up. But even that time consumed may be worth it – research conducted with this approach has reached a staggering 85% response rate…without any additional work on behalf of the business or social media marketing firm. Many times keywords that are exhausted at the worldwide, or even national level are not even touched at the local level.
- Word Monitoring While we are on the topic, there is a distinct but highly interesting area to consider adding to your social media marketing automation inventory; word monitoring. Although most media attention into this strategy has focused upon the federal government’s use of “official crisis words” that will trigger a prospective official review, business owners should also learn to harness the power of critical words in their own efforts. The “crisis words” list is a terrific example; for instance, the use of the word “assassination” or “attack” might elicit official investigation for obvious reasons. Business owners might also benefit from defining a list of targeted words associated with specific situations or circumstances in their business; for example, perhaps the use of the words “customer service” might warrant investigation to determine customer satisfaction scores whereas another business owner may simply want to follow-up with purely positive testimonials. The key is to create a list of significant words then set up appropriate alerts. This can be a powerful addition to your social media marketing efforts.
- Hire a social media manager Even if you implement all these social media marketing strategies, you may find that you are still spending way too much time on the computer or phone instead of running your business. Many times business owners are reluctant to spend money to hire someone to handle their social media marketing, but do not think through how much it is really costing them in lost revenue. So, do what you do best, and hire out the rest! You can either add someone to your staff, or hire a company or independent contractor to monitor your online reputation and become the voice of your brand, always working under your careful supervision.
I would be delighted to talk to you about how I can help you work smarter and not harder with one of my social media management packages. You can contact me on Facebook, or by using one of the other methods listed here.