Social-media marketing can be overwhelming for anyone, especially small-business owners and solo entrepreneurs. There’s a lot of pressure to be everywhere at once — to be fully active on every social-media site out there.
Of course, this isn’t realistic. Social-media marketing takes time. Fortunately, there are several ways you can save significant amounts of time as you work to spread the word about your business. Here’s how to save at least two hours per week on your social-media-marketing efforts:
Consistency is absolutely key on social media. A company with a spotty presence on a social-media site sends a message of unprofessionalism and sloppiness. If you want to build trust and relationships with your prospects on social media, you need to have a consistent, professional image.
It gets worse if your brand message is inconsistent on social media compared to your website and other outlets. Do you use the same images, taglines and colors on all of your profiles? Is your tone and timing consistent? Do you respond, or not respond, the same way all of the time? If not, you’re damaging your brand’s image. You need your presence to be familiar to prospects if you want to turn them into customers.
The way to make sure your presence, content quality and brand message are consistently excellent, without losing your mind, is to be choosy when it comes to your social-media platforms. Focus on no more than one to three platforms where you know your most profitable prospects are active (and don’t forget to include specialized forums in addition to sites such as Facebook and Twitter).
Be relentlessly exceptional on those platforms. Ignore the rest. You’ll improve your results and save tons of time.
Time saved: 30 minutes per week
Know the best times for each platform.
If you’re going to optimize your social-media-marketing campaigns, you have to be sure that everything you share packs a punch. One of the best ways to do this is to know the most impactful times to share. Here are some quick takeaways to help you:
- Pinterest has a different trending topic each day of the week. Research shows that Mondays are great for fitness shares and Tuesday is best for technology, for instance. Schedule Pinterest shares for the day that most closely matches your industry.
- The right times to post on Twitter will depend on what times most of your followers are online. Use Followerwonk to analyze your followers for free so you can set schedules that make the most sense for your brand.
- Optimal days to post to Facebook are Thursday and Friday, specifically between 1 and 3 p.m.
- Instagram, although it has a smaller audience, has a very high level of engagement, making it a great place for motivated brands. Only 23 percent of all Internet users are on Instagram, but the site has more than six times the interaction rate of Facebook. The best days to post to Instagram are Monday and Wednesday, although all weekdays are typically good.
As a caveat, though, remember that general guidelines such as these don’t apply universally. Use them as starting points, but carefully monitor your analytics to be sure that the times and days you’ve chosen really are best. Optimize your posting schedule around these opportunities, and you’ll easily save time by not posting when you aren’t likely to see high engagement.
Time saved: 10 minutes per week
Use the right tools.
Having the right tools can make all the difference between spending hours on social media and spending minutes on it. Some companies feel that using automation tools lessens their authenticity and personalization, but it doesn’t have to. By combining the right tools with a real-time presence, you can save time and money on your social-media marketing.
Interestingly, Sprout Social found that businesses need to respond quickly on social media — within 60 minutes — to keep customers happy, even though many brands aren’t replying at all. A whopping five in six messages that need responses aren’t answered. The right monitoring tools can help build your reputation as a brand that’s quick to answer, without having to camp out on social media all day. There are a variety of great options available.
Automating your social-media posts can also make a big difference in how much time it takes to manage your social-media-marketing campaign every day. Buffer, in particular, is a great choice for this.
Once set up, Buffer allows for automated posting for a large variety of platforms, and will even integrate your ideal posting schedule from Followerwonk to create your Twitter queue. The platform also provides content suggestions, helping you to post regularly to each of your profiles. Finally, Buffer includes some basic analytics that’ll help you determine which posts performed the best. By using a single option for all of these needs, you’ll save time and avoid headaches.
Finally, you need the right tools to help you build your following. No, I’m most definitely not talking about those spammy “buy a million followers” sites. I’m talking about targeted followers who really care about what you have to say. I love using Narrow for this purpose on Twitter. The software makes it effortless to interact with users who are likely to enjoy my products and services, which saves me a massive amount of time when it comes to building an engaged follower base.
Time saved: 20 minutes per week
Analyze your results.
Too many companies have too little direction on their social-media marketing — that is, other than “build engagement” and hope for the best. In reality, you’re wasting countless hours if you’re not focusing your efforts on your most effective types of posts.
The only way to know what kind of content is most effective for your brand is to test, test and test some more. I’m a huge advocate of A/B testing in all areas of life, and especially in my businesses. By using A/B testing, you can find out what marketing messages resonate best with your audience, where your biggest conversions come from and what times are best for you to share. It’s all about trying it out and recording the results.
Besides Buffer, there are other tools that allow you to view metrics for your social-media shares. Social Bakers and Simply Measured are both good choices, because they give you detailed results over several platforms. They also allow you to keep an eye on what your competitors are doing, another important way of staying on top of your social media marketing results.
Time saved: 10 minutes per week
Use data to create viral content.
There’s nothing that delights a marketer’s heart like seeing a piece of social-media content go viral. Unfortunately, it feels a bit like winning the lottery: we don’t know why it happens, it just seems to fall out of the sky. But that’s an illusion. In reality, you can use data to help you create viral content.
Remember that “viral” doesn’t have to mean “broke the Internet.” A widely-spread piece of content can make a big difference for your company, even if it never reaches the height of #GangnamStyle or “the dress.” By paying attention to the reasons people share content, you can create content pieces that are more likely to go viral than others.
Here are a few examples:
- Scientific American found that content that aroused positive emotions was more shared than pieces that gave rise to negative emotions. Of the negative emotions, anger-arousing content was shared more than sad content. Though, overall, the stronger the emotional response, the more likely it was to get shared.
- BuzzSumo found that readers of news publications such as The Guardian were more likely to share “why”-based content, which was almost last in shares for social site BuzzFeed’s audience. The readers of BuzzFeed preferred to share list posts, which was second to last for Guardian readers. The lesson here is that you need to learn what type of audience you have before you know what type of content will work best for them.
- Don’t forget that the more social-media followers you have, and the more engaged they are, the more likely you are to be able to achieve viral content. YG Entertainment, which released the famous “Gangnam Style” video, already had a following of 2.5 million on YouTube before the video went live. The video launch was preceded by a series of tweets from a huge celebrity and gossip site. “Gangnam Style” wasn’t an accident — it was well-orchestrated.
- Learn from Buzzfeed’s “The Dress”: controversy and strong opinions never fail to get people talking.
When you use data to create content that’s more likely to go viral, you save yourself all the time and energy you’d otherwise spend creating duds that never get shared at all.
Time saved: 40 minutes per week
Mobilize brand advocates to save time.
There’s nothing like having your advertising done for you to save you time. Fortunately, it’s easy to save hours each week by having someone else do your social-media marketing — for free. How? By mobilizing brand advocates.
Brand advocates are delighted customers and enthusiastic employees who take the initiative to share information about your brand with their own networks. By encouraging this kind of activity, you can save a tremendous amount of time and reach people that your brand might never have otherwise engaged.
Start building your brand advocacy with passionate employees. Studies at Dell and Cisco showed that there was only a 2 to 8 percent overlap between employee and company social networks. When employees share your brand message, they’re dramatically expanding your reach.
The next step is to encourage your delighted customers to talk about their experiences with your company on their profiles. Give them access to review sites, and make it easy for them to share key information. Research shows that brand advocates are 83 percent more likely to share information than the average Internet user, so you likely won’t have to push much. You’ll save a lot of time, while boosting your brand image significantly.
Time saved: 10 minutes per week
Saving hours every week on social-media marketing isn’t as hard as it sounds. By being choosy, knowing the best times to post, using great tools and analyzing your results, you’ll get the most out of social media. Using data to create viral content and mobilizing brand advocates will help you extend the reach of your social-media campaigns without increasing the time you spend.
Altogether? That could add up to far more than two hours a week of time saved.