You know how it is.
One minute you’re on your well-deserved lunch break, your finger poised to point your mouse into the internet abyss.
The next minute, it’s an hour later, and you’re happily on your third cat-in-a-costume-riding-a-roomba video.
Where on earth did the afternoon go?!
Welcome to the world of social media — a vast and seemingly endless space into which your free time can merrily get sucked, while you wave goodbye to your productivity.
Whether you love it (gleefully snapping every tasty morsel that passes your lips) or loathe it (and are sick of the sight of selfies), one thing’s for sure: You can’t ignore it.
And that’s why social media is so fantastic for your business, product, service or idea — there’s an eager audience of millions just waiting to meet your virtual acquaintance.
But it’s far too easy to find your valuable time slipping away in endless memes, blogs and videos. Maximize your time and efforts with some time-saving tips for your social media marketing.
1. Plan and Organize
Your strategy should identify what it is you’re hoping to achieve from your social media marketing. Do you want new customers? Do you want to build awareness of your brand and products? Do you want to demonstrate your expertise in your particular industry?
Once you’ve got these answers nailed down, you’ll be able to focus your efforts on achieving these aims. No more wasting time for you.
2. Focus on a Few
There are so many social media channels out there competing for your attention, from the big players like Facebook, Twitter and Google+ to the new ones on the block, like Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr, Vine and more.
Rather than spreading your efforts thinly and running the risk of doing too much not very well, choose to do a few channels really well. Base your decision on which platforms are most suited to your needs.
Facebook still has more users worldwide than any other social media network. But Google+ is gaining popularity fast. It’s also a smart choice for businesses, because gaining traction on Google’s social network impacts Google search results.
Twitter’s the perfect platform for short and snappy text-based posts, but if you’ve got more visual content to share, Pinterest and Instagram are perfect.
Once you’ve figured out which platforms suit your needs and desired outcomes best, you can concentrate your efforts there.
3. Bring in the Experts
Even if you’ve got the best social media intentions in the world, you might not be able to commit to it. Resources may be an issue or a fear of accidentally achieving infamy from a particularly poor choice of social media post like Epicurious did in the wake of the Boston bombings.
Whatever your reasons, if you want to free up your time but still get great results with your social media marketing, consider outsourcing it. There’s a good range of social media management specialists out there.
4. Prioritize a Process
You’ve got your strategy — check — now it’s time to develop your process. Nothing fancy, just the set time of each day that you’ll schedule your posts, respond to queries and search out your share-worthy content.
Carving out a little time each day to work on social media means you’ll get a smooth routine flowing pronto without it encroaching on other tasks.
5. Know Your Tools
To save you trawling cyberspace for your social media content, let it come to you. Try Google Alerts, a free tool that’s your digital bloodhound, sniffing out the topics and keywords you ask it to. It’ll send you relevant information direct to your inbox.
For media-based content, try Creative Commons Search (also free) for images, music, videos and more.
For the ultimate in time saving, say hello to social media management tools. The beauty in tools like Hootsuite (which offers a free version, even better) or Buffer is that they’ll streamline your processes.
You don’t have to hop into lots of different social networks to schedule your posts or answer multiple questions — you can access all of your channels from one handy dashboard.
What do you do for your business’ social media plan that saves your time? Share with us in the comments.