11 ways to save time on your social media marketing

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multi taskerNo matter what size your business is, finding time for social media is hard.

If you run a small business single-handedly or with a limited team, there are many other priorities pressing on your time. If you are the head of comms or sales at a multinational – well, guess what, there are many other priorities pressing on your time, too, and you do not necessarily have the manpower either.

So how do you find those elusive hours? The first thing to realise is that not finding time is not an option. Social media is crucial to business development nowadays, and if it constantly gets pushed to the bottom of your priorities, your business is going to suffer.

Nothing brings that home more than this slightly scary – but also very funny — video by Marcus Sheridan , an American social media consultant, who gets a little antsy (but again, quite funny) when a businessman asks him how to find the time to blog:

Now, I’ll cut to the chase here – because I know your time is precious! Given that you have to do social media, how can you do it in the most efficient way possible?

Here are 11 tips and tricks that will save you a considerable amount of time:

1. Make sure your goals are realistic. If you have limited manpower, do not try to establish a presence on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest and Instagram. Pick your priorities carefully. Make sure that the workload is manageable. Then stick to it at all costs.

2. Plan ahead. Scrambling for material is an enormous time-waster. It can take ages each day just to decide what to write, do a little research, change your mind, and start thinking again. A content schedule which sets out general themes for each month, blog titles, and specific tweets and Facebook posts will take away much of the stress, and allow you to focus, focus, focus.

3. Stockpile. Don’t blog every day. Spend several hours writing a series of blogs, then post them at your leisure. By writing them in one fell swoop, your writing will flow better and ideas will continually suggest themselves. You can similarly write dozens of Twitter tips or gather quotes for Facebook in one marathon session, to be used over a period of days, weeks or months.

4. Automate. Once you’ve created that batch of blogs, Tweets or Facebook updates? Upload them immediately, and schedule them to appear at a later date. WordPress and most bespoke blogs can be programmed in this way, as can Hootsuite and Facebook.

Two notes of caution: Having months of material pre-programmed to appear does not absolve you of the responsibility of actually interacting with your fans and followers. Posting these links is only half the job!

In addition, check over your pre-scheduled material once in a while to make sure that it’s all still relevant.

5. Delegate. Who else can be responsible for some aspects of your social media programme? Help can be found in unlikely places. We know several companies where the majority of the blog writing is done by capable PAs; they have incredible knowledge to draw on.

Rather than penalising staff members who do not blog, try offering them a reward for contributing regularly!

6. Recruit collaborators. Is there anyone outside your company who can contribute to your blog – an expert who is not a competitor, for example, or an up-and-coming blogger who has valuable material to offer your clients, and who would be happy for the exposure?

7. Outsource. Genuinely can’t handle it yourself? Pay someone else.

8. Re-purpose. Instead of inventing the wheel again and again, look at old marketing materials and even old social media content. Is there anything you can update? Use again in a different format, for example turning a set of statistics into a graphic? Do the same thing with new reports and consider how one set of information can be presented in different ways, to form multiple posts.

9. Re-use. Not all content has to be original or new. It’s fine, for example, to tweet blogs that you wrote a while ago (as long as they’re still relevant). In fact, we recommend that you tweet every piece five times in the week it’s produced, and then continue tweeting it once in a while afterwards. You went to all that work to create amazing content, make sure people see it!

Note of caution: This is not permission to never write anything original again. The majority of your social media activity still has to be fresh.

10. Stop expecting perfection. Don’t rework and rework your writing until it is perfect. Nothing’s perfect. Once it’s good enough – post!

11. Concentrate. Do not do your social media in dribs and drabs throughout the day. Set aside a ‘power-hour’ or a quiet time to get your social media activity done without distractions.

And, while this may be rather ironic, in our experience one of the biggest obstacles to running a social media campaign efficiently is… social media. When you’re writing your blog, for goodness sakes don’t check Facebook!

What are your time-saving tips for social media? Let us know in the comments!

Miriam Shaviv is director of content at Brainstorm Digital.

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