Social media can be both a blessing and a curse. From a personal standpoint, it can be very engrossing and entertaining. In fact, the average American user spends 3.2 hours per day on social media with young people and women spending even more time. That means that average American is on social media one quarter of the time she is awake. That’s a lot of time! And if the average American utilizes social media that much, imagine how much time social media managers must spend.
People who work with social media on behalf of themselves or their companies know what a potential time drain the internet is and how, taking just a casual approach to finding and sharing things with followers or friends, entire days can be lost to this void. Fortunately, there are better strategies not only to find interesting content to share, but to schedule and post it as well.
Managing social media professionally involves three steps: finding good content and posting it, engaging with followers or fans online in constructive ways, and examining which strategies work and tweaking them to work even better. Clearly, to be effective, all of this takes time. Fortunately, there are ways to make each step simpler and less time consuming.
- Identify your audience – If you can’t say with certainty who your audience is, your social media voice will be far less effective. Figure out who you are addressing, and commit to having that conversation with them.
- Determine your topics – What things is your targeted audience interested in? Will they be more engaged by informal content, pictures, or funny videos? Do they need timely information? Will bringing up certain topics, like your politics, offend them or fire them up? When you know this, make a list of things to discuss. Set Google alerts to keep up on recent news or innovations in your company’s field. You can change or alter the list at any time, but make sure you update it keeping your audience foremost in your mind.
- Use the right online tools – Finding and posting content if you use sites like Feedly, Digg Deeper, or Hootsuite. If you plug into the right sources, content will come to you instead of you have to excavate it from obscure sources. Definitely use a tool like Hootsuite or Buffer to schedule your posts ahead of time. It will save you time and make forgetting to update your social media less likely.
- Respond to your audience – Take the time to tweet back to people who mention you or your products, and take any mention on social media seriously. Any customer service issues should be taken offline and quickly, however, and don’t just sit on social media chatting. The return on investment on that is low.
- Figure out what is and is not working – Use social media input, analytics, and any other data to determine whether a particular strategy works for you. Most social media sites offer users quite a bit of data for free. Don’t let this go to waste, and don’t be afraid to tweak or refine your behavior to make your online presence more effective.
Social media is an important part of any company’s SEO strategy for business success, but, like anything else, it’s basically worthless if done wrong. Even done semi-effectively it can be an expensive proposition. So approach it like a battle, with a plan of action and the right weapons at hand to deploy when necessary. Keep in mind that, as in any battle, the offensive and defensive maneuvers and tools at hand are subject to change (as technology does). Good strategy is always good strategy, though, and the rules for good social media use are very similar to the ones for good customer service, so don’t be intimidated because it changes and it’s online.