There are two common complaints I hear from business owners about social media:
- It’s confusing
- It takes too much time
I couldn’t agree more. As a business owner (and solopreneur), I’m responsible for marketing my company including participating in social media. With Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, blogs, video and social bookmarking sites, it’s enough to make your head spin. And then comes Pinterest. Oh dear.
So how do you keep up with social media and still run your business?
The 2011 Social Media Marketing Industry Report (from Social Media Examiner) released last April sought to address that and other questions. The study was conducted among 3,300 marketers across industry sectors and included people from the self-employed crowd through to people in major corporations. The study looked at a variety of issues facing social media users today, many of which have been tracked since 2009.
According to the study…
- 90 percent of marketers see social media as very important for their business.
- 88 percent believe the number one benefit of social media marketing is business exposure
- Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and blogging were the top four social media tools
- 58 percent of marketers spend 6 or more hours on social media tasks per week and 34 percent invest 11 or more hours per week (That’s a lot of time!)
While this information is helpful and interesting, it still doesn’t answer the question as to how you can manage to communicate through social media, run a business and have a life. Here are some suggestions:
Know Where your Clients are Hanging Out
You wouldn’t go to a business party if you knew your current or prospective clients weren’t going to be there – it would be a waste of time. So why utilize social media sites if you know your clients aren’t there? The first step is understanding what they use and are interested in regarding social media. If you run a business that caters to other businesses, you might think twice about using Facebook (which is trying to be more business focused but isn’t there yet) as much as LinkedIn, which has a purely business objective. There is no point in wasting time in one part of the social media universe if no one will see what you’re doing.
Utilize Tools that make your Job Easier
If you still go to each site individually, you are taking more time than you need to update your social media sites. That being said, you don’t want to automate everything you do on these different sites. Twitter has different needs than Facebook or LinkedIn – and that doesn’t just mean the character count. Twitter users know they must be quick, punchy and almost headline-like in their delivery. Facebook and LinkedIn allow for much longer-form writing that can express an idea more fully. Another reason to not automate everything is the loss of social interaction. After all, social media is about being social.
Tools to investigate include: Hootsuite, Tweetdeck, Seismic and Ping. These aren’t the only ones, just the ones that have gotten more press and been used frequently by social media marketers.
Make Time for Social Media
Easier said than done, right? If you look at social media as a big, hairy monster, it will seem overwhelming. But you can do a lot in 10-15 minutes each day, if you have a plan. How do you get a plan? Well, truthfully, it means carving out specific time to consider topics to write about whether that’s for a blog or social media. Consider making a list of different topics that cover the gamut of your expertise. For example, look through old blog posts (if you have them) for ideas or lines you can use in posts. Create a Google reader to compile blogs you read regularly in one place. This saves you time and gives you one area in which to gather new ideas.
Enlist the Help of Someone Else
If you can afford to hire someone to run your social media, then this might be the best option if you just can’t seem to get to it. You don’t want to ignore social media or do it in a haphazard way – your potential and current clients may see that. Plus, it’s highly likely that your competition is on social media. Nothing could be worse than being left in their Twitter dust.
© 2012 Sarah Wood
About the Author:
Sarah Jo Wood is founder of Evolving Advisors Inc. and author of ‘How to turn a No or a Maybe into a Yes!” And producer of “Magnetic Phrases.” Her forte is in copy enhancment, a gift allowing her to enhance already written copy thereby keeping the owner’s original voice, while magnetizing and making the copy sizzle with persuasion at a fraction of the cost of a copywriter. She can be found at www.evolvingadvisors.com