Save Time! 6 Ways to Spend Less of It on Social Media

Using social media is a chore! Let’s face it. What business owner wants to spend hours in front of a computer screen replying to tweets and Facebook posts? You’d rather be spending that time working on your next product, right? Well, that may be the case, but the fact of the matter is that social media is just as important and requires just as much attention.

Everyone knows how great social is–personal branding, global reach, instant customer engagement, high return for low investment and all the rest of it. We’ve heard these terms thrown around for years now, and they’re true. Social is fantastic. So why are so many small businesses still not on the social bandwagon?

Time!

I hear it time and time again, no pun intended, but social media can be a huge time-suck. Social is, quite literally, a full-time job and for small businesses, hiring a social media manager is often unfeasible. And social is a long-term strategy. It can often feel like social takes up huge time-investment without giving significant tangible results, and in the mile-a-minute world of business, that just isn’t practical.  Hence, social often finds itself relegated to the bottom of the pile.

No more, small business owners. No. More.

Here are 6 practical ways to spend less time on social media, and get better results.

Don’t Try and Be All Things to All People

LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, SnapChat, Foursquare, Google+, Instagram, Whatsapp, Vine … the list goes on.

Choose one or two platforms that will deliver the most ROI. The best way to make that decision quickly? “Cheat!” Look at what’s working for your main competitors and then copy it. It’s not the most finely honed strategy in the world, but it is the quickest way to get going with social.

Listen

When it comes to spending less time on social media, doing anything other than posting or engaging with people might seem counterintuitive. Listening is a critical part of social media time-management, as it allows you to quickly hone your approach in line with what’s working for other people, driving increased engagement in a shorter period of time.

If you have resources, paid social media listening tools like Radian6 are very effective but there are some brilliant free tools you can use to quickly find out what people are saying.

Set up ‘Google alerts’ for your name, your company name, competitors’ names, key industry terms, and so on–and use the ‘How Often’ tab to select frequency. Instant alerts can be a productivity killer–setting daily breakdowns means you can spend 5 minutes scanning the alerts each morning.

Schedule

Each social media platform has posting times that drive higher engagement. Post at the right times and you’ll get more engagement, more quickly, increasing your social ROI with no extra effort.

There’s plenty of advice out there and you’ll start to notice your own trends over time, but to start with, again, learn from what’s working for other people.

Curate

In an ideal world, we’d all write highly original, unique, engaging content, right? Except, I know very few small business owners who have the time to do that. Plus, good content isn’t even a guaranteed way to build social success–plenty of professionals know their stuff inside out but can’t put pen to paper, and even more could write content but wouldn’t know how to start marketing it to ensure it got read.

Instead, share relevant and useful content that other people have written. Build your reputation, gain exposure and build credibility; all for ten minutes effort a day.

Tip: Use Scoop.it to find relevant content easily, add your own unique mark to it and then share it across your social networks.

Automate

Social media automation lets you be flexible, save time and still get the benefit of posting to social media regularly. Without actually having to, you know … post to social media regularly.

Social automation tools schedule posts for you in the future, so you can invest a chunk of time at the start of your week, for example, and set posts to update every day without you needing to do it manually.

My personal favorite–and the most popular free tool out there at the moment–is Hootsuite. Hootsuite allows you to post across multiple social networks from one dashboard, track conversations and schedule posts, as well as easily measuring your results.

Little and Often

Social needs a little and often approach–consistency is key to seeing ROI quickly. You could invest, say, a full day every Friday into social and not see anywhere near the same results as spending half an hour every morning on it.

If you’re anything like me, ‘little and often’ doesn’t come easily, but make it into a habit and it’ll get easier. You should be able to cover social media in no more than half an hour a day if you’re focused about how you’re spending your time.

Everyone will find a routine that works best for them, but here’s an example one of my clients has successfully adopted across Facebook and Twitter.

Morning
3 minutes: Scan email alerts and Social Mention
5 minutes: Respond to any direct messages, tweets, etc
7 minutes: Go to Scoop.it and find 3 or more articles to share; queue them in Hootsuite

Midday
2 minutes: Respond to any direct messages, tweets, etc
5 minutes: Share, comment or retweet 1-2 posts

Evening
2 minutes: Respond to any direct messages, tweets, etc
5 minutes : Share, comment or retweet 1-2 posts
1 minute: Follow or connect to 1-2 new people

There you have it: the key to social media success, especially for time-strapped small business owners, is to invest time in the right places, at the right times, using the right tools to make it easy for yourself. And remember, when you have limited time to invest in social media, you can do much worse than copying the people who spend all day, every day doing it.

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