I know most people are using social marketing in one form or another, and I do too. It’s big, it’s growing, it belongs in every marketing plan.
But I have to tell you, it’s been a bit of a struggle for me – the time it takes can be crippling! fatburner-test A real Time Vampire, especially if you lean toward the social side and really enjoy the personal interaction.
If you’ve got a business to run, like I do, and most of you do too, time is a precious resource. Entrepreneurs simply don’t have the luxury of spending 4, 5, 6 (or more) hours on social marketing, or any other single activity for that matter.
Is Social Marketing a Time Vampire… or is it Real Work?
Ask yourself that question, and then come up with an answer – even if it’s tough for you – it’s important to make an assessment. The reality for a lot of people is that it’s both.
I know it’s true for me. I’ve got to watch myself, and watch the clock.
Here’s an example of some non-productive self-talk that I’m guilty of – “I’m going to just check Facebook, real quick, then I’ll get to that blog post I’ve been meaning to write”
C’mon now, when has that ever really played out that way? For me, it’s safe to say – Never!
I check some Facebook messages, make a few replies, approve some friend requests, and pretty soon I’m off to the races. I’ve gotten myself absorbed in a friend of a friend’s new blog post about a new marketing technique!
And it’s NOON, and I’m hungry, and half the day is gone!
That approach makes social marketing a time vampire. It sucked half a day out of me and left me feeling confused and tired. That doesn’t happen often, luckily, but enough that it’s caught my attention.
Social Marketing is GOOD and powerful and growing, and it belongs in every marketing plan. It’s definitely in my marketing plan.
So, what’s the answer? How can you effectively utilize social media sites for your business without spending all your waking hours checking a whole basketful of websites and keeping up with every single conversation?
I’m no guru of social media, but I have a couple of tips to share that you’ll find helpful. First, a couple of key focus areas that keep Social Marketing in the proper results-oriented business perspective:
Message to Media to Market to Me Match
You’ve heard of ‘message to market’ match? Same thing here, but with twist.
Matching simply means use the right tool for the job, and make sure you like it. If Facebook is where your prospective customers hang out, and it works for your message, AND you like it, then it’s a good match. Think about it, and don’t leave out the “Me” part. Be realistic. If you really don’t like Twitter, don’t use it – it’s not a good match for you.
Focus. We’ve been communicating long enough – you knew “focus” was going to show up. I really struggled with focus when it comes to social sites – more must be better, right? In reality, it is far more effective to be ‘good enough to get noticed’ in a few areas than be invisible everywhere. Pick a few and concentrate on those.
Automate. I really mean semi-automate, or at least use tools to increase efficiency. Lots of options out there… and I’ve tried too many. More $ doesn’t necessarily mean better. Here are two I like.
Hootsuite: Single tool for managing The Big Three – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn – and more (but, remember what I said about focus?). The top benefits are a single place to manage everything and ability to schedule updates in batches which means fewer times logging in.
Ping: Single point distribution to many, many sites; no cost.
I use the paid version of Hootsuite (cheap), but they have a free version too. I connect Hootsuite to Ping for maximum reach. So one update from Hootsuite reaches all the sites in Hootsuite and all the sites in Ping.
No, I didn’t forget about focus. I spend my social marketing time on just a couple of sites – Facebook and LinkedIn and Twitter.
But I went to all the trouble of creating a profile at a bunch of social marketing sites and even tried to stay active at quite a few. After all that time investment, I really hated to just walk away. The compromise was to drop some entirely, and keep others in kind of maintenance mode, using Ping to keep my status updates going without spending a lot of personal time on each site.
Leverage means outsourcing, paying someone else to help with the tasks. Outsourcing social marketing is a little sensitive for some people because it is social, it’s you interacting, or acting like you are interacting, online. But don’t rule it out just because it might seem a little personal and close to home. The key to outsourcing social marketing tasks is creating proper training and systems.
Is Social Marketing a Time Vampire?
It certainly doesn’t have to be!
Choose your tools carefully – a comfortable match for you and your customers.
Add some discipline and focus (and a dash of moderation).
Shift gears by adding automation and efficiency software, and if you really want to accelerate results, boost your efforts by outsourcing some of the tasks.
Put those four components into your social marketing plan – it’s a winning combination. You will be more likely to get real business results from social marketing without letting it become a time vampire that sucks you dry.
Michael Wilson is an online marketing strategist and outsourcing expert, helping people build their business using highly effective online marketing techniques. Learn to implement an effective social marketing plan for your home based business by visiting his site and taking advantage of his smart marketing resources today.