These days, social media is one of the best ways to market your company and its products. It’s also one of the best ways to interact with your customers. You can compose a Facebook post, send a tweet, share content from your company’s blog, and get comments and opinions in real time.
So where do you start? There are so many social media platforms it can be overwhelming! And time-consuming if you don’t know what you’re doing. In an informative online article, social media guru Kevan Lee cites an Ipsos study that says the average networker spends an average of 3.6 hours daily—a significant 25% of their sixteen waking hours—on sites like Facebook, Twitter, etc. You could literally spend all day trying to post engaging content and reply to all of your followers and not get anything else done. There’s also the danger of getting (pleasantly and entertainingly) distracted by reading the posts of those you follow. But there is hope! If it all seems like too much of a hassle either because of time or personnel constraints, there are a few things you can do to manage your social media so it doesn’t manage you.
The first step is to determine which social media platforms are the right fit for your company. Marketing specialists recommend that you be on “the big four”: Facebook, because with 1.3 billion users someone is sure to be interested in your company; Twitter, because loyal customers are most likely to follow brands they trust (like yours!); LinkedIn, because their platform connects professionals; and Google+, because it’s part of Google, the web’s largest search engine, and because it’s quickly becoming one of the most impactful social media networks.
Additionally, the social media platforms that are growing at the fastest rate are Pinterest (because more people now share content using Pinterest than they do via email), Instagram, and YouTube. Instagram is a visual platform, and it’s been firmly established that good visuals lead to more clicks. YouTube is the place for videos (it’s the second largest search engine on the web), and having a few videos of your own is a smart way to advertise your company and its brand. Additionally, you should find one niche platform. A niche platform brings people who have similar interests together. For example, Goodreads is a social media platform that encourages readers and writers alike to engage in sharing books and in writing.
So, once you’ve decided which platforms you’re going to use, how do you make sure you’re engaging customers on every one of them? Yes, every single one of them! Social media is, well, social. You must engage with your followers in order to make an impact. Engaging, for the newest of social media users, is not only, for example, replying to comments on your Facebook posts, but liking and commenting on others' posts. On Twitter, it's favoriting and retweeting others' tweets, as well as replying to your mentions.
Again, who has the time for engaging every single follower? You do now! The idea is not to spend more time but to get more out of the time you spend. One of the tricks in paring down those hours on social media is creating a social media management list. It’s an effective way to help you organize your time and tasks. Kevan Lee provides a fantastic list that shows you how to condense the enormity of it all into thirty(!) well-spent minutes, from creating and sharing content to engaging with your followers and with those you follow.
That thirty-minute miracle will not happen, however, unless you take advantage of the management tools available to you. Lee mentions several of these tools, which offer various services to help you streamline your social media marketing. Some of them include a free basic service, but you can upgrade to packages with enhanced capabilities for a cost. The first tool you’ll want to capitalize on is the social media relationship platform, a management system that takes the form of a dashboard and enables you to connect each of your social media accounts so that you can schedule and share multiple posts simultaneously across your social-platform spectrum. These systems also offer various reports and analytics for monitoring your social media efforts.
And one of the best ways to ensure that your efforts are impacting and engaging your followers is to share good content. Even if you use the best tools and create killer management lists, when you don’t post good content, no one’s going to take the time to look at your posts. Sharing quality content is a must. Unfortunately, seeking out good and shareable content can be extremely time-consuming as well. There’s an app for that too! Apps like Feedly and Content Gems gather all of your favorite reading material from different blogs and online magazines into one spot so you can organize them and then schedule them to share on all your platforms using your Buffer or Hootsuite apps.
Social media’s impact on how companies—and even individuals—market their business is huge and takes some effort, but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Get familiar with and take advantage of the tools we’ve talked about and you’ll be able to solidify your online presence, build relationships with your customers, and grow your business.
What are some of your favorite social media tools? Share in the comments below!