7 techniques to saving hours each week on social media updates
So, what you're saying is you just don't have time for social media, right? You've been on all the courses, you've read the 'How to' books, attended all those breakfast seminars - you know you should be using LinkedIn and Twitter, perhaps even Facebook and you've created your profiles/pages but now you've forgotten about them, save for the occasional tweet, post or comment you leave in a group discussion thread. Why is this happening?
It could be simple, you're probably not devoting the right amount of time to doing the right things to make social media work for you effectively.
What's the solution? Well you could outsource some of your social media activities but then there's a cost involved in doing so with no guarantee that it will deliver a return and besides no one can get across your message or identify your ideal LinkedIn prospect better than you, right?
Your ideal solution is to engage with social media yourself. "But Steve, I already told you, I don't have the time!"
Ok, let's first examine, why should you even consider being on LinkedIn and other social media at all by taking a look at how many other medium sized companies have been approaching social media during 2014:
- 57% pay a dedicated social media team to manage their marketing
- 86% believe social media delivers a measurable return on investment
- 98% plan to increase their investment in social media in 2015
If your business is going to be truly successful then you ideally need to devote at least as much time to marketing and selling your services as you do tackling the actual doing part of your job role - the delivery of your product or service. However, if you run a small or medium-sized businesses, spending 50% of your time on marketing and selling is unrealistic, unless you're going to put in a 20 hour day every day.
What it boils down to, is being more efficient with the time you do have available and I'm going to share with you 7 tips that will enable you to become more effective by spending fewer hours on social media each week.
7 social media time-saving techniques that will save you time
1. Become laser focused - be absolutely clear who it is you need to engage with. What do they look like, what industry sector are they from, what position do they hold and where are they located geographically? Once you've identified your target audience, with laser precision, then you must ensure that you avoid spending time engaging with, reading articles from or associating in any activity on social media that does not relate to your business objectives. It's too easy to find you've spent half an hour on LinkedIn, doing nothing else but being curious. If you have time to spend being curious fine, if not, remain focused.
2. Prepare your response in advance - Time yourself next time you send a personalised invitation to connect or a courteous response to someone who accepts your connection request on LinkedIn. How long does it take you to think about and form the message in your mind, type the content into the message dialogue window and then send it? - 60 seconds, 2 minutes, 5 minutes, whilst you re- read it, edit that sentence that doesn't quite scan correctly or correct that typo? My advice is to create a message content strategy. Simply create a template of common messages, save them in a document on your PC and then all you have to do is copy and paste your message, adding the recipient's name of course. I use a great piece of software called Breevy, a text expander programme that enables me to create messages and then simply type an abbreviation into any online message window, including email. For example, my LinkedIn Invitation to join our Group uses the abbreviation LIG. For most message responses it takes me less than 20 seconds to send something of value to a potential prospect on LinkedIn.
3. Manage your connections and followers better - Most of the participants who attend my training workshops have no idea that LinkedIn Tags or Twitter Lists exist. LinkedIn tags are folders, accessed from your 'Connections' > 'Keep in touch' > 'Filter by - All contacts' menu. Not only can you create Tags to save and manage any of your 1st, 2nd or 3rd degree connections's profiles, you are also able to group message a tag (to your 1st degree only) as long as the number of contacts in an individual tag does not exceed 50. Twitter lists are similar to tags in so far as you can create your own list to save anyone in who you are following or who is following you. A subtle difference here however, is that Twitter lists are only for reference and keeping a close eye on important people or topics - you cannot message a Twitter list. Having easy and quick access to those social contacts or topics that are important to you will save you a lot of time.
4. Be there when your audience is - Just because it fits with your schedule to message or post content at a particular time of day or on certain days of the week, doesn't mean to say that your audience is going to be around to see it then. Research by social media experts, including ourselves has found that the following times of day are when social media sites are most actively accessed:
- LinkedIn Week days 7-8.30am / lunchtimes / 4-6pm. Weekends 7.30-9am
- Twitter - Week days 1-6pm weekdays.Weekends 1-3pm
- Facebook Week days 6-8am / 2-5pm. Weekends are not good
Of course there is no exact science to this and not everyone one of your target audience will conform to these trends. The above timings however, are fairly typical of our own research. So, if you don't have much time, consider increasing the chances of your audience reading your messages or posts by sharing content when they're on social media.
5. Set up alerts to keep informed - Joining relevant LinkedIn groups or following an important LinkedIn connection is useful, particularly if you want to engage with certain activity posted by the group or connection. Go to the 'Privacy & Settings' menu by hovering over the small photo icon, located top right of your LinkedIn page. Select the 'Groups, Companies & Applications' link then 'Set the frequency of group digest emails' Select only the groups that you want to receive news and updates from. Within the groups themselves, if you find a discussion that is useful for you to be engaged with, leave a comment and then check the box 'Send me an email for each new comment'. Similarly, if you follow an individual LinkedIn connection and they publish content via LinkedIn Publisher then you will be alerted via the red flag notification at the top of your profile page whenever they post fresh content. Setting up alerts and notifications can be extremely useful in helping you to keep in touch with content and people who matter.
6. Schedule your social media posts - I had some extremely confused participants attending one of my LinkedIn workshops recently week. When I demonstrated how I posted content, such as blogs, videos etc via my Newsfeed status updates, they noticed that one post had been shared just minutes earlier - how was this possible?! I use Hootsuite! The reason I am able to remain top of mind with my networks, even when I'm on the road delivering training or at meetings, is because I use Hootsuite to share my content at the key times of the day and week, outlined in Point 4 above. This planning and forethought enables me to get on with my day in the knowledge that my marketing machine is working in the background without me being there. Yes, it requires time at the beginning of the day or week to plan and schedule my social content but it saves me immeasurable time in the long run.
7. Delegate your social marketing - Recently I took the decision to delegate the daily sharing of social media content from my personal LinkedIn and Twitter accounts to Heather, one of the Linked2Success team. Don't get me wrong, I still engage personally with messages and discussions, it's just that the time it takes me to curate content and then schedule it on Hootsuite to maintain my brand profile could be better spent on other aspects of my business. I would not advocate delegating totally responsibility for your social media to anyone internally or externally, although if you are in a position to delegate certain aspects of you social media, it could be worth considering.
Marketing who you are and what you do is vital to the success of any business or individual. In recent years social media has emerged as one of the most influential business development channels - we can't ignore it but we mustn't let it consume our time or our thoughts. Plan and execute your social media strategy in a SMART manner.