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May 01 2012

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Overcoming the Social Media Marketing Time Suck

social media marketingMy 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.

 

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38 comments

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  1. Martha Giffen

    You know what I say to people who raise the objection of “it takes too much time?” I say to them, “You don’t have time to pick up another customer?” That usually gets their attention. Social media can be compared to prospecting. You have to get out there and do it every day to increase your prospect and customer base. The end! LOL
    Martha Giffen recently posted..Easy Online Marketing Strategies You Can Use Right NOW!My Profile

    1. SusanCritelli

      Exactly, Martha! And that applies to ANY business.

      But for a social media professional not to be active on social media is even more ridiculous. Without the judicious use of automation and a couple of assistants working with me, there is no way I could maintain my own social media presence AND manage client accounts also.

      Thanks for weighing in!

  2. Genevieve Lachance

    I agree, a lot of people’s first objection when it comes to social media marketing is time, especially small businesses with restricted budgets. I would add to your list to have a plan before getting into it so that you know where you’re going and what you’re trying to achieve. That will prevent some mistakes and waste of time. Thanks for sharing!

    1. SusanCritelli

      Genevieve, the number of people who don’t have a plan is staggering. Social media is not an “if you build it, they will come” proposition. It is better not to be on social media at all than to shoot in all directions, leaving abandoned profiles in your wake.

      It is possible to have too many profiles, IMHO. For those who feel the need to be part of every platform, there are tools like Xeeme.com that enable you to manage all your profiles in one place. But I still think it is better to limit your activity to those platforms that work best to achieve whatever your goal is.

      Thanks for visiting!
      SusanCritelli recently posted..A Lesson in ForgivenessMy Profile

  3. Sally K Witt, Social Media and Ministry

    Of course I love your post and agree with all of your suggestions! Social Media can be so powerful, but if you need to be careful of your time, and keep your message strong, it would be a smart idea to get a manager to do it for your business.
    Sally K Witt, Social Media and Ministry recently posted..Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site – PennsylvaniaMy Profile

    1. SusanCritelli

      Sally, I think part of the problem is that budding entrepreneurs undervalue their own time. When I first got involved in network marketing, I didn’t really factor in how much time I was spending on “free” advertising, endless traffic exchanges, link farms, pay-to-read, downline builders, and other blah-blah-blah. Someone who has never worked outside the home, or perhaps worked part time for an hourly wage that was not at all commensurate with their ability, has no frame of reference for what their time could be worth. I was so excited when I made my first $500! But based upon my wages at the last job I had before I got married, I discovered that I was pretty much LOSING $10 an hour for the privilege of “working from home.”

      Having said that, I do want to note that network marketing is not always a losing proposition. It CAN work, and I have been in successful in several companies. But you do have to have an idea of what your time is worth up front, so you can figure out what to delegate to others.
      SusanCritelli recently posted..What College Graduates Don’t Know About AmericaMy Profile

  4. Helena Ritchie

    Time has always been my biggest problem with social media too. You offer some really helpful tips, especially pre-scheduling and unfollowing. Thanks!
    Helena Ritchie recently posted..How Your Diet and Exercise Habits Help Build Self-ConfidenceMy Profile

  5. Marie Leslie

    Great tips. It really is a matter of priority management. Keeping track of your time and careful planning are the keys to success here.
    Marie Leslie recently posted..How to Organize Important Documents, Part 2My Profile

  6. SusanCritelli

    Glad to be of help, Helena. I think that unfollowing is hard for some people because of the people who will unfollow you back, and they don’t want to lose that big follower base. But engagement is so much more important that numbers. I would rather have 100 followers with 50 people “talking about this” than 5000 with only 10 who bother to visit and engage.
    SusanCritelli recently posted..Do You Have What it Takes to be a Mommy Blogger?My Profile

  7. Erica

    Great tips here, Susan! So many small businesses understand the power of social media, but don’t know how to justify getting started. I’ve noticed a LOT of people dive into social without a plan… this is a huge mistake, and will only end up hurting them.
    Erica recently posted..Career Lessons Learned From “The Hunger Games”My Profile

  8. Lisa Birnesser

    I love that you said work smarter, not harder. I love tools like Hootsuite that can be used to help engage in social media. It allows me to then engage in person as well and increase the quality of my connections. Thanks so much !

  9. David

    You bring up some interesting points. And even though this isn’t in the post I like quote “I would rather have 100 followers with 50 people “talking about this” than 5000 with only 10 who bother to visit and engage.” Very true!

  10. Maria Stefanopolous

    I certainly have seen results since I started concentrating more effort on my Blog, Twitter and Facebook pages. I’m getting specific requests for travel arrangements regularly and that wasn’t happening before.

  11. Greta Boris

    Great Information! Thanks
    Greta Boris recently posted..To Botox or not to BotoxMy Profile

  12. Rick Clark

    The objection I run into most is, “I don’t really know where to begin.” to which I respond, “That’s my job.” I’m careful not to “oversell” social media, a mistake too many practitioners are making today. Their failure to deliver ends up making us all guilty by association.

    I strive to create a strategy with achievable, quantifiable goals. We take it step at a time and, as the impact on the bottom line becomes apparent, the objections all seem to disappear.
    Rick Clark recently posted..The jury is still out – Part ThreeMy Profile

  13. Denise Sonnenberg

    If people don’t “get it”, you can spend as much time educating them as you can doing the work for them. If they don’t trust you in the beginning, it’s better to move on.
    Denise Sonnenberg recently posted..Why an Email List is Paramount to Your BusinessMy Profile

    1. SusanCritelli

      Usually, it is people who DO get it who decide to hire a social media manager. If they don’t get it, then I think it is probably better to educate them than do the work for them.

  14. Solvita

    Well people don’t have time, and automate sounds good, however is should be treated with caution, as social media is all about building relationships… You are giving a great advice here on how to save that precious time. I also think social media manager is a great solution. Thank you! :)
    Solvita recently posted..Transform Insecurity into Self-Confidence with 2 STEPSMy Profile

    1. SusanCritelli

      Agreed, Solvita, that you have to be careful with automation…and outside management, for that matter! I have mixed feelings about both of these, because as you say, social media is about relationships, and it feels counter to relationship building to hire out your social media. But I think the key is knowing what to hire out and what needs to be your own voice.

  15. Tereza

    Great information, thanks!
    Tereza recently posted..Where should I post my status?My Profile

  16. Lisa Singelyn

    This is a fantastic post. You know my personal thoughts on automation, but for those who have little time and cannot hire a Social Media Specialist, it’s perfect. And, yes, I do admit to using it on nights and weekends. Companies who are NOT on social media are not only behind the times, they are missing an entire segment of lead generation that is growing exponentially. What is your experience with training companies to do it themselves? I find that many are gung-ho out of the gate, then let it drop off after a month or two, no matter how much I tell them that this will affect their online reputation and even their SEO. I’m getting to the point that training companies without a dedicated SMM is not attractive, because it doesn’t help either of us in the long run. Thoughts?
    Lisa Singelyn recently posted..HomeMy Profile

  17. Steve Hughes

    I agree totally with this post. If you want any level of efficiency you need to incorporate some automation and scheduling. Many I’ve come across are manual or bust. There are plenty of tools out there (and free) that really assist in making our SoMe lives a little easier.
    Steve Hughes recently posted..Twitter 101 – How do I use Twitter?My Profile

  18. Vincent Palmer

    Extremely comprehensive post Susan! I love your site too!
    I think you covered every topic that I can think of…
    Prescheduling is a very useful tactic that I will try…

    Thanks a lot!
    Vincent Palmer recently posted..The Horrible Effects of Driving While TextingMy Profile

  19. Mandy Edwards

    Love this! Time is the biggest struggle that businesses have.
    Mandy Edwards recently posted..New Facebook Group!My Profile

  20. Andrew Riggio

    I am so bad about automatic social media work. I get pulled into it like it’s a black hole.
    Andrew Riggio recently posted..Texas lawmakers: liable for harm to women?My Profile

  21. Greg Harvey

    Great article. Yes, anyway you slice it social media is going to be time consuming even when working smart, but in today’s business it is a very inexpensive way of acquiring new business. It’s the easiest time in history to market a business.

    http://www.harveywildlifephotography.ca

  22. MrBill

    Be careful with the auto-responders, especially the direct messages on twitter, most people ignore them and some consider them spam.

    1. SusanCritelli

      Absolutely, that is why I mentioned it. Especially if they are a “Thanks for the follow – buy my product” kind of DM. Still, you may want to acknowledge your new followers and this is a way to do it easily. Otherwise you have to do it manually. Maybe if you get one or two new followers a day you could do it, but I don’t have time for that.

  23. D Paul Walters

    Excellent post Susan! Just not enough hours in a day to get everything done on the social level while running a business. Agree with every point made – one of the tools I will be investing in soon is a social media manager. I would also recommend adding social sharing to the RSS feed..
    D Paul Walters recently posted..Social Media Tools – What, When, and Where..My Profile

  24. Elaine

    hi, good post. thank you for sharing.

  25. Sean Supplee

    Social media can take up your entire day if your not careful! lol its a very addicting thing and its great fun connecting with your customers and getting live feedback along with helping them. You have many great tips here on how to better manage your time and get social media done right.
    Sean Supplee recently posted..Are You Over-Optimizing Your Websites?My Profile

  26. fatfriaruk

    Time is one thing we all have, it’s how we spend it that makes the difference :)

  27. Catherine White

    I think one of the biggest pitfalls when embarking on a social media journey, is not having a plan, and believing the hype associated with social media.

    Having realistic expectations will help stay the course, and a plan will keep you on track.

    Social media is a lot of work, but well worth the effort for anyone wanting an audience for their product or service.

  28. Alicia

    Thank you for the great social media tips. I really need to go clean out some of my old contacts and get ride of stale “relationships” on Twitter. Thanks for the motivation
    Alicia recently posted..Win a 32 piece set of Lock & Lock Storage ContainersMy Profile

  29. chiako

    This is a great article, it truly addresses one of my biggest online concerns and that is time. Or the lack of enough of it as you stated. Thanks for sharing great content.

  30. Jenny

    These tips are very helpful for me and for all the people too.. I just hope you can post more of this too.. Thanks for the help!
    Jenny recently posted..Allergy Season Information AvailableMy Profile

  31. mobile marketing

    I agree, a lot of people’s first objection when it comes to social media marketing is time, especially small businesses with restricted budgets. I would add to your list to have a plan before getting into it so that you know where you’re going and what you’re trying to achieve.

  32. Cleópatra

    wanted to thank you for this great read!! i have you bookmarked to check out new stuff you post.

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