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You know what takes a lot of time? Social media! If you’re a consumer of social media, you might spend as much as 2 hours per day catching up on the latest…memes. If you’re a business owner trying to make your mark on the fabric of the social media landscape, you’re probably spending 5 or more hours each week posting, commenting, and building ads. That doesn’t even take into account the amount of time you spend trying to figure out what to post! Some business owners report 20 or more hours per week.
What could you do with 5 hours? Unless you run a social media management business, you’re spending that 5 hours doing something that doesn’t directly produce sales. It’s not that it’s a waste of your time—hopefully—but it’s probably not making you as much money as you make when you’re directly working in your business.
There has to be a better way than spending 5 hours or more each week tweeting, Instagraming and Facebooking. (Note the made-up social media verbs.)
In fact, there is. The old saying "work smart not hard" certainly applies to social media. You can’t remove the “hard work” from anything in business but you can definitely get smarter and more efficient with how you do it.
Pick One (or Two)
Much of the conventional wisdom says that you have to make your mark on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest. Maybe also Reddit, LinkedIn, and now Periscope. Let’s be clear: You don’t have time for all of that. Pick one or two platforms and put your effort there.
How do you know which one? Twitter is for influencers. If you and your clientele are leaders in your field, or otherwise influential people, Twitter is a good one. Facebook is the common-person’s platform—not geared to any one type of person. When their parents got a Facebook account, young people left en masse. If your average customer is a late 30-something and older, go there. Facebook still remains the melting pot social media platform and the most popular by far. Pinterest is for women, Instagram is for youthful, kind of cool people, and LinkedIn is for professionals.
In other words, go where your people are. Of course, there is some bleed-over so the labels above aren’t meant to be hard-and-fast but the stats show them to be true.
Pick one network and max it out. If you have help or you love social media, maybe pick two.
There’s no need to do things in real time. You have a business to run. Facebook allows you to schedule posts within its platform but Hootsuite allows you to schedule for multiple platforms from within its dashboard—if you’re working in more than one. It even allows Instagram now. Other awesome features include an option to allow it to post at the optimum time based on its data analysis. It’s far from an exact science but worth a try. Best of all, it’s free!
If you want something a little more substantial that analyzes your engagement, try Sprout Social. There are numerous platforms on the market to help you post and track your effectiveness. You’ll probably have to pay a membership fee for the more advanced options but if you’re serious about getting an ROI, you need a means to measure it.
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Get Your Employees to Help
The millennial generation was basically born into social media. They know how to use it instinctively. You probably have somebody on your staff that has a substantial following because they’re witty and entertaining. That’s your person!
Equip that person to take on your social media as part of their duties. They will probably hug you for allowing them to do what they love to do while getting paid for it. If you’re a one-person business, ask a family member or pay a young person some miniscule amount to do it.
Ask Your Customers for Help
Statistics show that user generated images receive far higher engagement than professional-looking images. Instead of you trying to take pictures for your social media efforts, ask your customers to do it. Run a contest. Tell them to send you a picture with your sign in it for a chance to win something. If you have events, set up a hashtag and run the same contest. Get creative. If your business directly serves the public, they’re probably taking pictures anyway.
Partner with Others
Do you work with non-competing businesses? Maybe you have local vendors that you use for product to serve your customers. Team up. Together, you can hire somebody to work both of your social media channels. Some businesses also team up and create a single page—maybe a community business Facebook page. Your business only has the ability to reach so many people but if you team up, the potential audience is much larger.
Know when NOT to Use Social
Not every business needs a social media presence. If you don’t like or understand social media, you don’t want to hire anybody, or you’re a manufacturing firm or other type of business that doesn’t serve the public, you shouldn’t feel bad about not using social media. Some will argue that you’re leaving customers behind but there are plenty of businesses that do just fine without a social media presence.
Go check out Apple’s Facebook page and Twitter presence for proof. You won’t find them. They have an app store presence and some of the company’s public figures have one but Apple the company doesn’t see a need. Either do a significant number of small business owners.
Concentrate on what makes money. If social media doesn’t, don’t feel obligated.
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