Monday, 30 January 2017

How to Reduce the Time it Takes to Properly Manage Social Media


Written by Robyn T. Braley

You know you should do it. But, you've been putting it off for all of these years. You have a personal Facebook page and know social media can be addictive. Yes Virginia, if not done properly, it can be a complete time waster. 


As you think about the time required to launch and manage a social media program for your business, chills may run down your spine! I'm here to tell you, it doesn’t have to be like that.

Relax. There's hope. I'm here to tell you, it doesn’t have to be like that.


Before going further, let's ask this question, "Why does my business need social media as part of it's brand program?" 


The answer is simple. Social media has become part of the fabric of doing business. 
According to one source, 60% of the buying decision process is completed before a sales rep is ever contacted or you go into a place of business. The potential customer, employee, supplier or other person of interest has checked out the product or company online.


My kids never buy anything before thoroughly checking it out online. I’ve been with them in a retail store when they’ve used their phone to compare a competitor’s product. My son-in-law is a master at comparative shopping.

"What you say and how you say it – with messaging, photos, videos, podcasts, design - matters. First impressions are everything." 

In my previous post, I asked the question, “Is Your Company Ready for Social Media?”  If you haven’t read it, check out the 10 Ps I have identified that will lead to social media success. 

Automation is a major help. A few days after you start using one of the systems you will notice an immediate increase in the frequency and quality of your messaging. 

If you are a Bootstrapper who has started your company with few resources, using social media to build your brand only makes sense. After all, it’s free, isn’t it? 

Not so fast! The engine that drives social media is content. 

Creating quality content that is relevant and adds value to relationships with existing or potential customers takes careful thought, planning and discipline.

That takes time. Your time. And your time is not cheap. If you want to do it right, it takes time. But, there is hope!

This post is also for people who have already launched a social media channel for their business and struggle to maintain consistency. Or, if you find performing repetitive tasks over, and over, and over and over again, this post is also for you.


Content Creation


Automation cuts your management time by more than half. At the same time, the process forces you to think through how you engage and build your community.

But first, a word from our sponsor. Content. In later posts, I will provide tips for developing content that is relevant for your audience. If you are new to social media, let me provide some simple content strategies. 

For example, posting content about your industry is an excellent way to keep your social media accounts active. It also helps position your business as an excellent source for useful information.


Social Media Marketing Model 

  • Know
  • Like
  • Trust
  • Engage 
When implemented correctly, you nurture visitors to become part of your audience. The begin by getting to know you through your site branding and what they read as your content.

As they begin to like what they see, they will choose to friend, follow or connect with you. When they receive relevant content into their feeds they begin to you as a dependable source for value based content. Some form of engagement will follow.

"The goal is to convert them into lifetime members of your community." 


All of this takes time to make meaningful contacts and then build relationships that translate into consistent business growth through an ever expanding customer base.

Evergreen Content


One of the secrets to editorial planning is to create content that never goes out of date. Evergreen content can be promoted well after you first publish it. I often promote posts I wrote in 2013 when Brandit was launched.

Why is this important? As you establish your voice and solidify your social media presence, your audience will begin to grow. Your archival content will be as fresh to new followers as it was to your early readers when first published.

Through years of creating new content, you will develop a wealth of material to promote and add value for your community.

Social Media Automation


Automation enables you to strategically broadcast your content without hand-on management. For example, I wrote this blog several days before publishing it. 

We use MailChimp to manage our enews and schedule the circulation at optimal times. I must confess, on more than one occasion, I have finished writing and publishing a post at 1:00 am and slept in the next morning while our enews was being released at 8:30 am. 

Analytics


Many automation systems also provide analytic features that allow you to track engagement and measure the impact of your efforts.

On days when our enews are circulated, we try to be disciplined and not check the data until later in the day. We can see which of our clients opened it, who clicked through to what pages, and where they were geographically located when they opened it. 

We also auto-schedule a number of Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn messages that promote each post to different audiences. 

Organizing Engagement

By organizing your content distribution and workflow, you will attract more customers in a faster time which brings a higher return on the investment of time and/or money.


Hootsuite

Hootsuite is my favorite management system because it can operate multiple channels. You can schedule releases for a specific day, time and frequency. Messages can be scheduled for next week or a few months down the line.

You can also target audiences in different time zones. For example, I live in Calgary, Alberta which is Mountain Standard Time. 

If I want to engage people in Toronto or New York, I schedule my content for a 7:00 am MST release which catches easterners in their offices at 9:00 am EST, which is a prime time for people to check their feeds.

To target Europeans, I schedule releases at 1:00 am MST. The beauty of Social media is that someone is always awake somewhere in the world ready to engage with your content.

My audience includes followers from all over the USA, Australia, South Africa, the U.K. and Canada.

Hootsuite analytics allow you to measure the effectiveness of your social media activity and easily share the results. It provides new insights, identifies social influencers, and allows you to determine what content resonates with your audience.

If you only operate three social media channels, Hootsuite is free. However, the Pro version is low-cost and provides many additional features and benefits. It provides a great way to simplify the sometimes complex task of releasing great content to different audiences.

In researching information for this post, I found a great article written by Katie Wilson of Aspire Internet Design. These are four benefits taken from her post, 7 Benefits of Using Hootsuite to Manage Your Company’s Social Media. Check out the entire post.
  1. Monitor Multiple Social Media Streams in One Place
  2. Schedule Posts in Advance
  3. Easily View Analytics Data
  4. Social Media Listening

Buffer

Users have called Buffer their Social media assistant. Some call it the Siri of social media. I have used it to automate social media accounts that are not part of our Unimark brand family.

Buffer differs from Hootsuite in how posts are scheduled. When updates are added to your Buffer queue they are released automatically. Releases are spaced out and broadcast at optimal times.
Rather than having to pick the date and time for each post, they are pre-set. You can also adjust scheduling or add new content to your queue at any time.
Fans say Buffer is like a magic box that you can use at anytime to fill with great Tweets, Facebook stories or LinkedIn updates. Drop them in and you don’t have to worry about when they will be posted.
Like Hootsuite, Buffer has a free service along with a low-cost professional version if you need more tools.

What do you think? Have you used one of these platforms? Do you use another system? I want to hear from you. Please comment below.  


Robyn T. Braley is a writer, speaker and media commentator. He is the President of UniMark Creative which does website design, video production, media services (editorial and advertising), and graphic design. He speaks at business conferences and also blogs about branding. 

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Related Articles in the Bootstrapper Series


What You Need to Know Before Launching Your Business Social Media Program

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