Remember that social media (if you're using it for business) is part of your overall Marketing Strategy. How does it fit, why are you using it and find time for it in your business.
Decide what you're going to do and how much time you have available. Which are the primary social media sites you're going to use? Find the ones that are likely to work best for you and commit to spending time on those.
Mine are primarily Twitter and Linked In - some Facebook and occasionally a few other sites.
Use social media platforms like Hootsuite or Tweetdeck to manage multiple social media accounts in one place. This makes it much easier and quicker to read and respond.
Plan your time. When are you going to do it - once or twice a day, a few times a week? Morning, afternoon or evening? Plan in the time and ...
... set time limits. It can be done in 10-15 minutes a day or 3 x 10 minute slots throughout the day or even a couple of 30 minute sessions once a week. Stick to the time limit so you stay focused and don't get distracted.
Create a checklist to keep you focused and on track. I have a simple spreadsheet on which I list all my social media activity, the different platforms I use and timings. For instance:
- Respond to mentions and RTs (re-tweets)
- Find new followers/connections
- Connect with new and existing contacts
- Share information - RT, links etc.
- Join in discussions
- Respond to questions
Use automation. Platforms like Hootsuite enable you to schedule tweets in advance (useful for marketing campaigns). Automate postings from your blog or newsletter, so you don't have to manually post to each platform.
Be consistent. Remember that everything you say reflects you and your brand. Twitter is more instant, Linked In more business oriented and Facebook more social or consumer based. If you can't commit to every day, less frequently is fine but stick to a plan.
Measure your results. While social media is about connecting, building relationships and conversations it can have long-term results which aren't always easy to measure but you can monitor things like click-thrus on links, sign-ups, new connections, views etc.
Part of social media is the conversation and connection, so make sure it's two-way and not just a constant sales pitch.
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(Photo credit: Wikipedia)